Stung at home

After last week’s win narrowly slipped through their hands, the Portland State Vikings needed a win to avoid putting themselves into an early season hole.

After last week’s win narrowly slipped through their hands, the Portland State Vikings needed a win to avoid putting themselves into an early season hole.

Unfortunately, it was a storyline that applied to Sacramento State as well. And it was the Hornets who came out of the gate early and cruised to a 31-14 victory on Saturday, dropping Portland State to 1-4 overall and 0-3 against the Big Sky.

The Hornets faced a historic disadvantage going into the game. They had not won at PGE Park since 1985, and entered play with a record of 2-12 in Portland. In addition, Sacramento came into the game off a four-game losing streak that extended into last season.

Sacramento State looked like easy pickings for Portland State.

But the Hornets were quick to get the Portland monkey off their back as they scored early. A 15-yard pass from quarterback Jason Smith to receiver Brett Willis resulted in a 7-0 advantage with 8:57 left in the first quarter.

The early Sacramento touchdown on third down would highlight a problem that plagued the Vikings all game—Portland State could not stop the Hornets from converting in pressure situations.

“We didn’t look like us. We couldn’t make the play,” Portland State’s head coach Jerry Glanville said. “We couldn’t make the play on defense. We couldn’t stop the third-down play.”

With Sacramento State making the early statement, it was clear after the game that the Hornets had come into town more prepared and ready to play.

“We underestimated this team,” senior defensive tackle Jermaine Jacobs said. “They didn’t play like a 0-3 team. I just think we should’ve taken them more seriously from the get-go.”

Despite the early hole, the Vikings were able to bring the game to within one point, to 7-6, early in the second quarter. But Zach Brown’s field goals for 36 and 38 yards would be the only points Portland State put on the board until the fourth quarter.

The game began to slip away from the Vikings late in the second quarter, when Sacramento State safety Zach Schrader intercepted a deep pass by junior quarterback Drew Hubel.

The turnover proved costly as the Hornets capitalized on the chance to drive downfield for a touchdown. At halftime, they took both the momentum and a 14-6 lead into the locker room with them.

It’s a moment that Glanville wishes he and his team hadn’t let slip away.

“Even though we’re not playing good, we’ve still got the game right there for us. The game has not gotten away from us at that point,” he said. “Although we’re not happy with how we’re playing the game, when something bad happens, you have to respond.”

The Vikings were unable to respond, as Sacramento would reel off 14 unanswered points in the third quarter, starting with a five-yard pass Smith connected with receiver Dylan Lane to end an eight-play, 80-yard drive.

From there, the Hornet steamroller continued to pick up speed. Running back Terrance Dailey rushed for a 2-yard touchdown and it would not be the only time that Dailey burned the Viking defense. The sophomore running back carried the ball 34 times for 111 yards and one touchdown.

By the time the Vikings were in position to score, the game was far from reach. It wasn’t until the Hornets lead 31-6 with 5:44 remaining in the game that the Portland State offense would finally awaken from its slumber.

An eight-play, 73-yard drive by Portland State ended with Hubel connecting to a diving Nevin Lewis in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown reception with 3:00 remaining in the game.

Hubel followed the touchdown with a pass to receiver Aaron Woods on the conversion to bring the score to 31-14, where it would remain.

The lopsided loss overshadowed several individual Viking performances. Hubel connected on 31 of 50 passes for 370 yards, despite throwing two interception passes. Receiver Lavonte Kervin set career highs in both receptions and yards, with 13 and 188 respectively.

“I know we had people playing real good, but the team didn’t play real good,” Glanville said.
He emphasized that the losing effort lacked both passion and emotion.

“It just looked like an empty tank. The spirit makes the master,” he said. “If you don’t have the spirit, you can’t play this game. And that’s my fault.”

The Vikings look to right the ship on Saturday at Northern Colorado. Both teams enter with identical records, and both are winless within the Big Sky. The game begins at 12:35 p.m. and will be available to watch at