Ogden, UT – For the second time in three weeks, Portland State was on the doorstep in the closing moments of the game. Once again, the Vikings were unable to get through the door. And so, PSU lost to Weber State, 14-10, in a rare defensive struggle in the Big Sky Conference.
The Vikings were driving for the winning score late in the fourth quarter, moving 61 yards down to the WSU 14-yard line. But they were stopped on a fourth-and-four play when an Alex Kuresa pass to Trent Riley fell incomplete after mix-up on the route.
“It was a mix-up of signal,” said Viking Coach Bruce Barnum. “There was a miscommunication on it (between players), so as coaches we need to work on it because it cost us on a crucial play.”
The Wildcats took over with 2:24 left in the game and were able to run out the clock.
It was costly loss for Portland State as the Vikings dropped to 2-4 on the season, 1-2 in the Big Sky Conference. Weber State improved to 3-2, 2-0.
The first quarter was fist fight as neither team could put together an extensive drive. The quarter ended scoreless as the Vikings netted 61 total yards and the Wildcats only 17. Cornerback Chris Seisay ended one WSU drive with an interception.
The first big play of the game came on the Viking side. Weber State had its most successful drive of the first half – a 45-yard march – but were stopped and tried a 33-yard field goal. Savali Talalemotu blocked the kick and it was recovered by Beau Duronslet. The Vikings started the ensuing series at their 34-yard line and ran 13 plays to score just before the half. Kuresa completed two passes for 31 yards and rushed four times for 22 yards, including the final yard on a dive into the end zone.
The Vikings took a 7-0 lead into the halftime locker room. PSU had 143 total yards at halftime to only 92 for the Wildcats.
Weber State finally got on the scoreboard early in the second half. A 55-yard run by quarterback Jadrian Clark highlighted an 84-yard drive by the Wildcats. Emmanuel Pooler scored from three yards out with 10:18 left in the third quarter and the game was tied 7-7.
Portland State wrapped an 81-yard drive around the third quarter break, but couldn’t get in the end zone. The Vikings settled for a 21-yard Jonathan Gonzales field goal and led 10-7 with 13:41 remaining in the game.
The Wildcats answered with a 75-yard scoring driving and took their first lead of the game with 8:44 left. On third-and-goal, Clark completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Vollert. WSU led 14-10.
That set up Portland State’s final run at the end zone that came up just short. PSU was in a similar situation two weeks ago at Southern Utah. Trailing 38-31 in the closing seconds, the Vikings were at the SUU four-yard line but threw an interception.
Portland State gained only 317 yards in the game, its second-lowest total of the season. The Viking defense held WSU to 271 – a season-low by an opponent.
“What a battle,” said Barnum. “That was old-school football on both sides. We knew we were coming in here against a good defense. They did a nice job preparing the last two weeks. They struck us on both sides of the football.”
Kuresa completed 14-25 passes for 181 yards and ran 16 times for 45 yards. Nate Tago was the leading rusher with 12 carries for 51 yards.
For the second week in a row, linebacker Sam Bodine had a team-high 11 tackles.
GAME NOTES: Paris Penn caught six passes for 65 yards to lead the Vikings… Weber State leads the Big Sky Conference series wth the Vikings, 11-8… PSU hosts Cal Poly next Saturday in a 2:35 p.m. game at Providence Park.