Weber State

    Portland State defeated Weber State in Ogden, Utah 20-10 last Saturday to take command of the Big Sky Conference. After losing both the starting and back-up quarterbacks to injuries in the California game last week the Vikings leaned heavily on their defense to get the gritty road win.

    The 14th-ranked Vikings’ defense was led by cornerback Odell Jackson, who had two of the four Portland State interceptions and a pass break-up in the end zone. The Viking defense held the Wildcats to under 200 yards of total offense, with 77 of it coming late during garbage time. Other defensive stars were free safety Micheal Dorsey, who had a team-high eight tackles; corner Dominic Dixon, with a pick and four tackles (including one for a loss); and outside linebacker DJ Robinson, who finished with seven total tackles and one sack.

    The team’s third back-up Rob Freeman had a decent game, going 10-17 for 50 yards and one touchdown. He showed good poise, throwing a fourth-down completion that led to the first touchdown of the game by Kelena Ho’okano. Leading rusher fullback Bobby McClintock had 75 yards on 12 carries and one catch for 10 yards. Starting running back Ho’okano gained only 31 yards on 13 carries and one catch for eight yards.

    Wide receiver Kenneth Mackins made a huge splash on special teams, recovering a fumble on a kickoff return leading to PSU’s first touchdown, and returning a kickoff 68-yards in the third quarter.

    PSU is now holding sole possession of first place in the Big Sky with a record of 3-1 (2-0 Big Sky). The Viks hold a half-game lead on conference rivals fourth-ranked Montana 2-1 (1-0 Big Sky) when they come to PGE Park this Saturday at 6 pm.

    Sawyer Smith may miss his second straight week because of his injury, but we could see the return of tailback Mu’Ammar Ali for his first game in the Big Sky. Ali has missed the first four games with a broken scapula, but might be available for the Montana game. This could be huge as Montana is the favorite to win this year’s Big Sky Championship and if the Vikings run game can ride on the back of Ali, the road to the playoffs would be paved with roses.

    While the team waits for Smith to recover, Freeman will hold on to the starting quarterback duties. The team announced this week that Brian White would be added to the roster at the quarterback position. The 6 foot 5 inch, 225-pound junior left Colorado earlier this year. White has yet to even throw a pass this year, but played in the Champs Sports Bowl for Colorado. The Buffaloes lost, 19-10, but White completed seven of 12 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

    If the Vikings expect to beat the Grizzlies this week there are a few key players that will get it done. Middle linebacker Adam Hayward will be in charge of stopping the Montana rushing game that is averaging 133.3 yards per game. This bodes well for a defense that ranks number one in rushing defense allowing only 98.8 yards per game. Corners Dixon and Jackson will try and bottle up wide receiver Eric Allen, who has been the main target at Montana, catching 17 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns.

    On offense Freeman is going to need to throw more than 50 yards and create more big plays. Ali will be a great addition to the already strong combination of Ho’okano and McClintock in the running game. Finally, the Vikings best playmaker, senior wide receiver Brendan Ferrigno, needs to get more touches. After Ferrigno made an impressive splash in the first two weeks, he will especially need to step up if the Vikings expect to get this win.