By the time Montana State running back Justin Domineck scoredhis third touchdown of the day on the second play of overtime, thewriting was on the wall for the PSU Vikings. A dominant first-halfperformance seemed like ancient history and any thoughts of a runto the Division 1-AA playoffs had been drowned out by the cheers ofthe announced crowd of 12,047 at Bobcat Stadium who witnessed PSUlose 31-24.
Less than three hours earlier, Portland State had looked like acontender.
With a balanced offensive and defensive attack, PSU played oneof its best quarters of the year in jumping out to a 14-3 lead overthe second best defensive team in the Big Sky. A strong performancefrom the defensive line helped force the Bobcats go three-and-outon two of their first three drives. Meanwhile, an efficient JoeWiser took advantage of single coverage to hook up for two quicktouchdown passes to Adam Whitehead and Shaun Bodiford.
The Viking defense continued its domination throughout thesecond quarter, holding the Bobcats to 157 total yards for the halfand temporarily knocking out quarterback Travis Lulay. Wisercontinued his efficient passing but his receivers struggled to holdon to the ball, dropping an easy touchdown pass and allowing thestingy Bobcat defense to finally dig in.
After 30 minutes, the Vikings looked ready to unseat thetwo-time defending Big Sky champs and earn their second straightroad win after going a year without one. But as any follower of theVikings over the last two years can tell you, it takes more than 30minutes of solid football to win.
Lulay returned to the field to start the second half and slowlychipped away at the Vikings lead. The teams exchanged touchdowns inan otherwise uneventful third quarter that saw both teams miss afield goal attempt.
Lulay led the Bobcats on a quick, four-play touchdown drive tostart the fourth quarter and cut the Viking lead to four. PSUextended the lead back to seven on a 10 play, 54 yard drive aftergetting the ball back but the Bobcats refused to go away.
Despite a more conservative rushing-based attack, the Vikingswere unable to run out the clock and gave the Bobcats the ball backon their own 18 with 1:55 remaining. Eight Lulay completions and 81yards later, the Bobcats lined up on the Vikings 1-yard line withfour seconds left and one last chance to tie the game. Secondslater, after Domineck’s second TD and a made extra point, theVikings found themselves headed to overtime.
The Vikings won the coin toss and chose to send their defense,still stunned from the 82-yard drive it had just surrendered, backon the field. On the second play Domineck burst through the Vikingdefense for a 17-yard TD that gave the Bobcats their first lead ofthe day.
Wiser and the Viks were unable to match the score and wereforced to leave the field wondering whether the same inability tofinish games that plagued last year’s team may have infected thisyear’s squad.