Wave goodbye to Portland State’s five-game road losing streak.
Quarterback Kieran McDonagh threw touchdowns passes to Darnell Adams and Kasey Closs, ran eight yards for another and Jonathan Gonzales booted three field goals as the Vikings held off Weber State, 30-17, Saturday afternoon at Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah.
PSU improved to 3-5 overall, 2-2 in the Big Sky, while winless Weber State fell to 0-8 overall.
After struggling in back-to-back losses to North Dakota and Northern Arizona, McDonagh completed 14-of-23 passes for 172 yards, while Steve Long posted his second straight 100-yard game by carrying 21 times for 118 yards.
Long has amassed 371 rushing yards in the last two games. Portland State eclipsed the 300-yard rushing plateau for the second straight week, gaining 303 yards on the ground, just 33 less than the Vikings has last week in the loss to Northern Arizona.
PSU ran the ball a season high 62 times, an effective strategy against one of the worst run defenses in the Big Sky Conference, and dominated time of possession by controlling the ball for 40:18.
Hitting on all cylinders at times, Portland State’s offense was efficient throughout, totaling 475 yards compared to 388 yards for Weber and churning out 27 first downs.
The defense also forced three turnovers and made two fourth-down stops. PSU coach Nigel Burton said his team’s plus-three (0-3) turnover margin was the key difference in the game.
“Takeaways, strictly the takeaways,” Burton said. “We ended drives (by Weber State). Fourth-down stops count as takeaways as well. And we protected the football ourselves. We didn’t lay it down in crucial situations and that was a win.
“It was a solid win, a team win in the end.”
The Vikings host improving Idaho State, which halted a 48-game road losing streak today at Northern Colorado, next Saturday at Providence Park. Kickoff is set for 4:35 p.m.
When the Vikings forced an incomplete pass on fourth down at their 36 midway through the first quarter, they launched a 8-play, 64-yard drive culminating in a 24-yard touchdown pass from McDonagh to Adams with 4:40 left in the first.
Weber State, still looking for its first win under first-year head coach Jay Hill, responded with a 20-yard touchdown pass from surprise starting quarterback Jadrian Clark to Shaydon Kehano from 20 yards out with 2:00 left in the first.
The score remained tied at 7-7 until Gonzales booted a 41-yard field goal with 12:32 left in the second quarter, capping an 11-play, 51-yard drive featuring five different rushers.
Portland State came up with another key fourth down stop on Weber State’s next possession, stuffing Zach Smith for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the PSU 22, as the Wildcats wasted a 46-yard kickoff return.
Xavier Coleman’s interception of Clark’s pass at the PSU 38 thwarted Weber State again, and the Vikings drove 31 yards to the WSU 31 when Gonzales drilled a 48-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in the second quarter to give Portland State a 13-7 halftime advantage.
PSU took advantage of another big play by the Vikings defense early in the third quarter to build a 20-7 lead. Smith fumbled on the Wildcats’ second play of the second half and Darien Washington recovered at the WSU 47.
After four rushes – two by McDonagh and two by Long – gained 25 yards, McDonagh connected with Closs (3 receptions, 55 yards) on a 22-yard TD strike with 12:30 left in the third quarter.
A 34-yard pass completion positioned Weber State for a 38-yard field goal with 6:37 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 20-10.
Portland State drove as far as the WSU 35 on its ensuing possession, but McDonagh was stuffed on fourth-and-7 late in the third quarter.
However, the Vikings defense stopped Weber State at midfield and forced a punt.
PSU took over at its 30 following a 17-yard punt and drove 69 yards, the longest scoring drive of the game, towards a short 18-yard field goal by Gonzales. PSU had first-and-goal from the WSU 6, but three rushes gained just five yards and Nigel Burton elected to kick a short field goal for a 23-10 lead.
Weber State drove 75 yards in seven plays to trim the deficit to 23-17 on a 36-yard TD pass, making it a one-score game with 9:31 left.
After both teams punted, Portland State sealed the victory when McDonagh capped an 8-play, 66-yard drive with an 8-yard TD run. The Vikings ran the ball seven times on the drive with four different rushers contributing. Alex Toureen had two runs during the drive, while Long had a 17-yard run on second-and-8 to the WSU 23. Shaq Richard followed with an 11-yard run to the 12. The Vikings secured a key third down on the drive and went on to tally the TD.
Moments later, McDonagh secured the win with his score. But just to make sure, Chevy Walker intercepted a pass by Green with 2:03 left at the WSU 45.
“This was another difficult loss for us and we have to be a tougher and more demanding football team,” Hill said. “We are making too many mistakes and we have to get things fixed, and that starts with the coaches. We gave up way too many rushing yards, our offense was not consistent enough and turnovers continued to hurt us.”
BIG SKY RESULTS (Sat. Oct. 25)
Northern Arizona 28, Eastern Washington 27
Portland State 30, Weber State 17
Southern Utah 35, North Dakota 17
Idaho State 46, Northern Colorado 12
Cal Poly 41, Montana 21
Photos courtesy of Weber State Athletics.