San Jose, CA – The upset magic that Portland State produced in 2015 was missing as the Vikings moved up to play FBS-level San Jose State. The Spartans combined a dynamic offense while taking advantage of six Viking turnovers to come away with a resounding 66-35 win.
It was the most points Portland State has allowed in six seasons, and the most turnovers in recent memory. With the loss, PSU drops to 1-1 on the season and has a date with the eighth-ranked Washington Huskies on Sept. 17 in Seattle.
The Spartans totaled 642 yards of offense, including 409 on the ground. A pair of long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, totaling 161 yards boosted that number late.
Despite the six turnovers, the Vikings were able to still produce a decent offensive output with 458 yards and 35 points. But a three-and-a half minute stretch at the end of the first half turned a 14-14 game into a 28-14 halftime lead for the Spartans. The Vikings could never recover from there.
“The turnovers just crushed us. You are not going to win any games with six turnovers, especially against a team like San Jose State. They were faster than us up front and in specials teams,” said Viking Coach Bruce Barnum. “I will tell my team that this game does not define us. There are some silver linings here. The sky is not falling for us. San Jose State has a talented football team and they had a perfect day. Kudos to them.”
San Jose State took charge with a 75-yard scoring drive in their first possession of the game. Quarterback Kenny Potter hit tight end Billy Freeman on a 36-yard touchdown pass just three minutes into the game.
The Vikings responded with some trickery. Quarterback Alex Kuresa threw a lateral pass to wide receiver Josh Kraght who surprised the Spartans defense when he threw the ball back across the field to Kuresa. Led by a host of blockers and a confused defense, Kuresa rambled down the left sideline for a tying touchdown of 78 yards.
On the first play of the second quarter, Potter scrambled for an eight-yard touchdown and the Spartans had the lead back at 14-7.
Following another Viking trick play – a fake punt that resulted in a 43-yard pass play – PSU had a chance to tie it again. But Kuresa was picked off in the end zone on a third-and-goal play.
Later in the second quarter, Viking running back Paris Penn put his stamp on the football game. Penn had consecutive runs of 22 yards, six yards, then went 36 yards for a touchdown. That tied the game at 14-14 with 6:14 left in the first half.
Then, late in the half, the the Spartans took control of the game. A one-yard TD run by Potter got San Jose State a 21-14 lead with 3:27 remaining the second quarter. After getting the Vikings to go three-and-out on their next offensive series, the Spartans closed out the half with another quick scoring drive. SJSU ran six plays in 40 seconds with Potter throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to Tre Hartley with two seconds left in the half. San Jose State led 28-14 at halftime and never looked back.
The Spartans extended that lead to 42-14 with two quick touchdowns in the third quarter. At that point, the Vikings faced their largest deficit in two seasons and were unable to come back.
Penn caught a 22-yard touchdown pass mid-way through the period, but the Spartans tacked on 10 more to lead 52-21 going into the fourth.
Each team scored twice in the fourth as San Jose State cruised to the win.
Penn rushed 14 times for a career-high 137 yards and the one touchdown. He also caught three passes, including the 22-yarder for a TD. Kuresa was 10-22 for 135 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
For the second week in a row linebacker Anthony McNichols led the Vikings in tackles with eight. He also had a sack.
San Jose State is now 1-1 on the season. Kenny Potter completed 14-20 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for two scores. Deontae Cooper rushed 18 times for 126 yards and a TD.
GAME NOTES: The Spartans scored 17 points off the Vikings six turnovers… 0-1 on the road now, the Vikings were 5-1 on the road last season… PSU is 4-33 all-time against FBS programs… this was the first-ever meeting between Portland State and San Jose State… the Vikings travel to the University of Washington next week for a game Saturday at 5 p.m.