Vikings squeeze out win

The Portland State football team (2-1) fought until the final seconds winning on a 27-yard field goal by Mike Cajal-Willis in the conference opener Saturday night against Northern Arizona University. “It’s never over till the end in this league,” said Viking’s offensive coordinator Dave Telford. “Luckily we had the ball in the end.”

The outstanding play of quarterback Juston Wood and kicker Cajal-Willis earned Big Sky Players of the Week honors on offense and special teams, respectively. In addition, Wood was named The Sports Network National Player of the Week, sharing the offensive award with Chas Gessner of Brown University.

Wood passed for 486 yards and two touchdowns and led the Vikings on a scoring drive inside the final minute of play to produce the win. Cajal-Willis made both of his field goal attempts in the game, including the deciding 27-yarder as time ran out.

“Wood made plays and his receivers made plays for him,” said Telford.

The Viks were first to get on the board with a 24-yard field goal from Cajal-Willis. Northern Arizona responded with a drive that culminated in a 13-yard touchdown run. The Lumberjacks came at the Viks again with a four-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Jacks got three more points from kicker Ty Dondelinger, with a 49-yard field goal that went through off the left upright.

PSU found the end zone in the middle of the second quarter with a two-yard run by Amad Robinson. The TD came after a 41-yard reception by Antonio Jackson placed the Viks on NAU’s two-yard line.The Vikings were down by seven when the Jacks fumbled an option play and PSU recovered the ball on the Jacks’ 42-yard line with 40 seconds left in the half. Wood then connected to Terry Charles for a 31-yard touchdown, but the missed extra-point by Cajal-Willis’ sent PSU into halftime trailing 17-16.

Portland State came out firing at the start of the second half. The Viks put seven more points on the board with a 2-yard run by Hashim Hall, giving them their second lead of the game.

NAU answered with a touchdown run from the goal line on fourth down, recapturing the lead, 24-23.After a pair of third down conversions for PSU, Wood found Tim Hester for a 20-yard TD pass. The Viks retook the lead by six with 3:28 to play in the third.

Then, early in the fourth quarter, Northern Arizona responded again with a 10-yard touchdown pass, but missed their point after, tying the score at 30.

With 5:55 left in the game, the Lumberjacks drove the ball all the way to PSU’s 10-yard line, where the efforts of Viking Kevin Hastin and Tolo Tuitele led to a PSU fumble recovery on their own two-yard line.

The Viks took possession with 56 seconds left in the tied game. Wood led PSU down the field, working the sideline very effectively to manage the clock. With a couple of big plays from Robinson and Jackson, PSU marched 88 yards to set up a 27-yard field goal by Cajal-Willis to win 33-30.

The teams combined for six lead changes and six fumbles (only one of which was committed by PSU). Both team defenses would have liked to have played a little more solidly, but the Vikings showed progress in stepping things up when they needed to. The Jacks dominated the ground game, while PSU dominated the air. NAU rushed for 312 yards, 270 yards of which were covered by Marcus King.

Wood had a sensational game, completing 33 of 45 passes with no interceptions for 486 yards and two touchdowns. Wood spread the wealth around, connecting to Robinson, Charles and Jackson for 100 or more yards each.

PSU will hit the road this weekend, playing at SW Texas State. The non-conference game will take place on Saturday at noon Pacific Time and can be heard on KFXX 910 AM.