When you play an 0–6 team, it’s important to protect the ball, run the football and control the clock to leave with a win. That was exactly what the Vikings did this weekend against a stumbling Weber State Wildcats team. In a single game the Vikings were able to notch their first road victory, break a two-game losing streak, and get to .500 in conference play for the first time this season.
After trading possessions for the first half of the opening quarter, the Vikings scored on an eight-play, 64-yard drive when Kieran McDonagh hit Darnell Adams for the 24-yard TD pass.
The Wildcats quickly responded by driving down the field and evening the score on a trick play. Top Wildcats receiver Shaydon Kehano hit QB Jadrian Clark with a 20-yard pass. On their next drive, the Vikings drove into WSU territory and tacked on a field goal to regain the lead.
The Vikings defense proved to be huge in the second quarter when they shut down the Wildcats’ offense and put their own offense in position to extend its lead. On a fourth down-and-one situation, well within field goal range, the Wildcats head coach Jay Hill decided to go for it, but was shut down by a stifling Vikings’ defense and turned the ball over on downs.
Later in the quarter, Weber State had the ball back and was threatening entering Vikings territory. On a 20-yard pass, Clark was intercepted by Vik’s sophomore defensive back Xavier Coleman. The interception was the first turnover of the game and set up the Vikings for another field goal and allowed them to enter halftime with the 13–7 lead.
As Weber State received the second-half kickoff, the Vikings defense looked to maintain momentum and continue controlling the game, while the Wildcats made the switch at QB to BYU transfer Billy Green. Though the personnel switch fell flat as the Wildcats’ offense could only muster two plays before Portland State’s stout defense silenced a rejuvenated home crowd and forced a fumble that was recovered by CB Darien Washington. Already in enemy territory, the Vikings needed just five plays before McDonagh hit receiver Kasey Closs for a 22-yard touchdown that pushed the PSU lead to 13.
Both teams traded punts before the Wildcats got their second score of the day, a 38-yard field goal by Josh Kealamakia. In the fourth quarter, PSU answered back with a field goal of their own, and Jonathan Gonzales’ third of the day. Weber State had no choice but to throw the ball down two scores, and Billy Green was able to connect on a touchdown throw. The 36-yard pass tightened the game and sparked worry for PSU fans.
PSU was unable to answer back and pressure was put on the defense to protect the six-point lead midway through the fourth quarter—and protect they did. In a crushing display of power, the Vikings forced a three-and-out in just over one minute while pushing the Weber State offense backward.
With just over six minutes remaining, the Vikings offense milked the clock and regained their 13-point lead on an eight-yard scamper by Kieran McDonagh to top off his threescore day.
The little hope of a comeback by Wildcats fans was erased when replacement QB Billy Green was picked off by Chevy Walker while trying to push the ball downfield. PSU now had the ball with just over two minutes remaining and worked to burn as much clock as possible. Weber State had a final opportunity with one minute remaining, but with no timeouts and the length of the field to travel, fell by the final score of 30–17.
The true stories of this game were the efficient play of the Vikings with no turnovers, a dominant run game and a defense that would bend but not break. PSU’s defense was able to force three Wildcat turnovers while helping the offense double their rival’s time of possession. Coupled with a running game that put up over 300 yards, the Vikings dominated play early and often. Running back Steven Long followed up his performance last week against Northern Arizona, with another 100-yard day while averaging over five yards a carry.
The Vikings look to keep their rushing attack rolling as they face Idaho State at home next week. Their Big Sky rivals are currently on a three-game win streak and hold a strong conference record, but have faltered on the road this season and PSU looks to capitalize on a defense that gives up 484 yards per game.