Shaun Bodiford slowly walked out to the middle of the field, knelt down on one knee and bowed his head. All of his other teammates and coaches, reveling in PSU’s 39-14 season-ending victory over the Weber State Wildcats at PGE Park, had already made their way to the locker room. The rain had stopped for a moment and Bodiford just knelt there, alone at the 50-yard line, taking it all in.
“It’s emotional,” he said. “This is it for a lot of us. Me, Joe, A.K. We knew it before the game started and to come out here and get this win – it feels great. But it’s heavy too. This is the end of the road for some of us.”
The Vikings pulled out everything that they had against the Wildcats and everything was enough. On a cold, rain-filled afternoon, PSU put forth one of its best performances of the season. With 492 total offensive yards, the Viks outplayed Weber State in every way possible. They had 25 first downs to Weber State’s 13, 393 net rushing yards to Weber State’s 27. Throw in four defensive interceptions with no offensive turnovers, complete control of the game clock and an average of seven offensive yards per play and you have a game in which PSU came out gunning and never looked back.
PSU, as it has been all year, was led by Joe Rubin’s 223 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Rubin, who looked like he was in mid-season form, had a 55-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that effectively put the game away.
“We just wanted to come out and prove that we have the best running game in the country,” Rubin said bluntly. “No one can stop us and no one can touch us. My line came out hard and we just wanted to remind everyone of what we can do when we’re at full speed. We wanted this and we got it.”
Rubin can afford the big talk because he backed it up this year with his numbers: an astounding 1,702 yards with 17 touchdowns and a 154.7 yards per game average. Finishing the season with the second most yards ever for a PSU running back, Rubin is a serious candidate for the Walter Payton Award and currently leads all of college football in rushing.
What made the Vikings’ win against Weber State so impressive was that they did it without their starting quarterback. With Sawyer Smith out with an injury he suffered against Idaho State, senior wide receiver Nic Costa (who had been severely underused the entire season) stepped in and filled the role admirably.
Costa was 7-13 with 99 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 80 yards on seven carries, netting 10.4 yards per carry. Most importantly, Costa did not make mistakes. He looked confident and assured in the pocket and took command of the offense from the start. And Costa was able to keep the Wildcats’ defense off balance all night, combining quick, explosive runs with precise, bullet-like passes.
PSU received contributions across the board in their manhandling of Weber State.
Allen Kennett, also playing in his last game as a Viking, ran for 84 hard yards and a touchdown on just nine carries. Brendan Ferrigno had 62 yards, including a 47-yard reception and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior Joey King had nine tackles (two for a loss), an interception and a sack. Dominic Dixon, Jordan Senn and D.J. Robinson also had interceptions. And the Vikings limited the Wildcats to only 27 yards rushing and 269 yards total in the affair.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” said head coach Tim Walsh. “We could have come out here and just laid down. We didn’t. Everybody played hard. Costa came up big, Rubin came up big, the defense came up big. This is what we’ve been working towards all season. This is great.”
Just as he said it, Walsh was doused in Gatorade.
“See? This is great!” he said with a smile.
Finishing off at 6-5 (4-3 Big Sky) on the season, the Vikings have one loss too many to make it into the I-AA playoffs. But in a year that has seen its fair share of ups and downs, the Viks undoubtedly went out on a high note. Following the heartbreaking loss to Idaho State last week, PSU easily could have fallen apart and unraveled. They didn’t. With nothing left to play for but personal pride, the Vikings came out as hard as they have all season, methodically dismantling Weber State, while reclaiming their pride at the same time.
Bodiford had tears in his eyes as he walked away from the field. The rain had again begun to fall and the stadium lights turned everything into a shiny blur.
“It’s good to go out like this,” he said. “This is what we wanted it to be like.”