Montana State brought the Big Sky Conference’s most fearsome offense to Providence Park, but it was the Portland State Vikings who ultimately lit up the scoreboard and stat sheet in a 59-42 win over the Bobcats.
17th-ranked PSU dominated on offense in a battle of Top-20 programs, scoring touchdowns on its first eight possessions and rolled to the win.
After a three-TD effort last week at North Texas, senior running backDavid Jones had the game of his life against the 16th-ranked Bobcats. He led a record-rushing performance by the Vikings with 285 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. In all the Vikings rushed for 465 yards on 65 carries, breaking the previous mark of 437 against Idaho State in 2012.
“How about that,” said Viking Coach Bruce Barnum. “They played hard. They continued what we saw last week at North Texas. I can’t say enough about these kids.”
Barnum’s plan was to attack a Montana State run defense that was allowing well over 200 yards per game going into the contest. “(The Bobcats) are young (on defense) and they are getting better every week, but I have some guys that are hard to catch. We just tried to get the ball in their hands and they got the job done.”
Each team struck a resounding opening note. Quarterback Dakota Prukop ran for a 61-yard touchdown on the game’s third play for Montana State. Then Viking running back David Jones responded with a 79-yard touchdown burst on the Vikings first play on offense.
Prukop scored again on a nine-yard run on the Bobcats next series and to give MSU a 14-7 lead less than six minutes into the game. Again the Vikings answered with a scoring drive of 11 plays and 78 yards. The big play was a fourth-and-three run by Nate Tago for a first down inside the Bobcats’ five. Tago scored on the next play and the Vikings tied the game at 14-14.
By the end of the quarter the teams had combined for more than 400 yards of offense.
Utility quarterback Paris Penn rushed for a 10-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter and the Vikings took their first lead of the game. Consecutive defensive stops by the Vikings eventually allowed them to take a two-touchdown lead, both on 75-yard drives. The second drive concluded with a 24-yard TD pass from Alex Kuresa and Thomas Carter, giving PSU a 28-21 advantage.
PSU tacked on another 86-yard scoring drive in the closing moments of the first half for a 35-21 lead. PSU had 393 yards in the half on 40 plays, averaging 9.8 yards per play.
— Portland State FB (@viks_football) October 18, 2015
Portland State scored again to open the second half on a 26-yard run by Jones. He added a 56-yarder a few moments later. The Bobcats could only trade scores in the third and never caught up.
Montana State’s best chance to get back into the game came early in the fourth quarter. Kuresa fumbled at the Vikings’ 40-yard line and Mac Bignell of MSU recovered.
Down 56-42, the Bobcats drove down to the PSU 11. But the Vikings stopped Prukop on a third-and-eight run. Then under heavy pressure on fourth down, Prukop threw incomplete and the Vikings took over.
A 29-yard field goal by Jonathan Gonzales with 5:06 to play made it a three-score game and the Vikings were on their way to the win.
Portland State had 682 yards of total offense – a season-high – to go with the record rushing. Jones finished with 300 total yards as he also had a 15-yard reception.
Kuresa completed 10-14 passes for 217 yards and one score. He also rushed 13 times for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Montana State finished with 440 yards with Prukop passing for 211 yards and rushing for 102 yards and three TDs.
GAME NOTES: Portland State ended an eight-game losing streak to Montana State… PSU’s 5-1 record is the best since a 6-0 start in 2000… PSU has totaled 1,352 yards and 125 points in its last two football games… Gonzales is 7-7 on field goals this season… PSU has now beaten its last two nationally-ranked opponents… Portland State goes on the road to face Cal Poly next Saturday. Kickoff is 6:05 p.m. in SanLuis Obispo. The game is available on Rip City Radio 620 AM and www.ripcityradio.com.