Turnovers, big plays in fourth quarter harm Viks

By Scott Hood  Nov 22 2014, 11:04 am — Leave a comment
Portland State Football EWU Game Photo 1
Portland State was tried with Eastern Washington at halftime of Friday night's game at Providence Park, but the Vikings committed four turnovers and the Eagles scored 42 points in the second half as PSU lost, 56-34.

Watching Portland State this season was the football equivalent of staring at 12 episodes of Scooby Doo back-to-back.

Every game seemingly had the same plot and, painfully, the same outcome.

Too many turnovers and big plays surrendered proved impossible to overcome for the Vikings on Friday night in a 56-34 loss to Dam Cup rival Eastern Washington at Providence Park in the final regular season game for PSU.

The Vikings finished the season 3-9, with two wins coming at home (Western Oregon and UC Davis) along with multiple excruciating losses.

Friday night marked the latest in a series of “what might have beens’ for Portland State this season.

After rallying to tie the score at halftime (14-14) on a pair of touchdown in the final 1:40 of the second quarter, the Vikings gave up 42 points to EWU in the second half as the Eagles converted three of PSU’s five turnovers into 21 points.

Eastern Washington scored six touchdowns in the second half, three on a 40-yard pass, 90-yard kickoff return and 73-yard interception return as the Eagles twice turned away comeback bids by Portland State, which trailed by eight points (42-34) with less than seven minutes remaining before the Eagles pulled away late.

Portland State outgained EWU, 522-494, in total yardage, ran 12 more plays (84-72) than the Eagles, had three more first downs (25-22) and converted 50 percent of their third down opportunities (8-16). Yet again, it wasn’t enough as those five turnovers, poor special teams play (missed field goal, botched extra point, long kickoff return for TD) and missed opportunities doomed the Vikings in a virtual replay of the Idaho State game on Nov. 1.

Portland State finished the 2014 season with 26 giveaways (2.2 per game) and a minus-12 turnover margin

Quarterback Kieran McDonagh came off the bench in the first half and completed 21-of-39 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. Alex Toureen (8 for 96), Thomas Carter (8 for 91) and Stevie Coury (6 for 63) combined for 20 receptions for 250 yards and four touchdowns.

Portland State rushed for 212 yards with Shaq Richard (13 carries for 64 yards) and Steven Long (10 carries for 60 yards) leading the way.

EWU quarterback Vernon Adams was 21-of-33 passing for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Jabari Wilson, who came into the game with just 47 yards rushing on the season, amassed 132 yards on 24 carries. Eastern Washington clinched at least a tie for the Big Sky regular season title and secured the conference’s automatic berth into the 24-team FCS playoffs, which begin next weekend

EWU took the second half kickoff and wasted little time snapping the 14-14 halftime deadlock, driving 73 yards in six plays. The two biggest moments were a 31-yard scramble by Adams and a 34-yard pass to Zach Wimberly to the PSU 3.

Adams scored the TD on a QB keeper to give the Eagles a 21-14 lead with 12:17 left in the third quarter.

Fifty seconds later the score was tied again. Or should have been.

QB Kieran McDonagh replaced starter Josh Kraght and completed 21-of-39 passes for 274 yards, 4 TDs.

QB Kieran McDonagh replaced starter Josh Kraght and completed 21-of-39 passes for 274 yards, 4 TDs.

Long returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to the EWU 8. Two plays later, Richard ran up the middle from four yards out for the TD. However, the snap on the PAT was bobbled, so the Vikings trailed 21-20 with 11:27 left in the third quarter.

When the PSU defense forced a punt from midfield, the Vikings took over at the 20 as a result of a touchback. But Richards fumbled on the second play and EWU fell on the loose football at the PSU 25, putting the Eagles in excellent position to expand on its one-point lead.

Running back Jabari Wilson carried four straight times, capping the drive with a one-yard plunge on second down to give EWU a 28-20 lead with 7:18 remaining in the third quarter.

After forcing a punt on EWU’s next possession, the Vikings started the next drive on a promising note with a 12-yard completion to Alex Toureen. However, PSU committed its third turnover of the night moments later when receiver Roston Tatum caught a short pass and ran to the EWU 42 before the ball was jarred loose.

The Eagles fell on the loose football at their 37.

Vernon Adams’ 46-yard completion to Cooper Kupp (9 receptions for 147 yards) led to Wilson’s six-yard TD run to give EWU a 35-20 lead.

When Coury made a sensational one-handed catch in the end zone to cut EWU’s lead to 35-27 with 13:00 left in the fourth quarter, the Vikings needed a defensive stop to seize momentum back completely.

They didn’t get it.

Instead, Adams and the explosive EWU offense roared 74 yards in four plays, grabbing a 42-27 lead on a 40-yard TD pass to Kupp.

Refusing to surrender, the Vikings responded with an impressive touchdown drive of their own as they marched 78 yards in 11 plays to narrow the lead to 42-34 when Coury caught his second TD pass of the fourth quarter from McDonagh, a 15-yarder to the left sideline.

However, PSU’s hopes of rallying from the two-touchdown deficit were quashed when EWU’s Shaq Hill returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to restore the Eagles’ 15-point lead at 49-34 with 6:22 left.

About 4-1/2 minutes later, the Viking drove into EWU territory looking to trim the deficit to a single touchdown. But McDonagh’s first-down pass from the EWU 30 was intercepted by Eagles defensive back Tevin McDonald and returned 73 yards for a touchdown with 1:56 left.

PSU’s final series of the game resulted in another interception.

PSU’s first five possessions of the game produced three punts, a missed field goal from 32 yards and an interception in the end zone for a touchback. Eastern Washington converted the turnover – the Vikings’ first of the game – into a touchdown by driving 98 yards in 13 plays to take a 14-0 lead with 11:21 left in the second quarter.

Portland State took possession at its 20 with 4:56 left and drove 89 yards in nine plays, scoring its initial points of the game on McDonagh’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Toureen down the left sideline with 1:40 left.

When EWU returned the ensuing kickoff out to the 39, it looked like Eagles would simply run out the clock. However, Adams’ pass on the first play from scrimmage was intercepted by Aaron Sibley at the EWU 47.

One play later, the score was tied as McDonagh launched a 41-yard TD pass to Carter with 53 seconds left.

Scott Hood

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