Senior running back Carlos Martin (21) takes a handoff from Davis Alexander at Hillsboro Stadium, November 2nd, 2019. Bryan Carter PSU/ Vanguard

A tale of two halves for PSU Football

Vikings outplay Montana in first half, succumb to a second-half onslaught

The energy surrounding Hillsboro Stadium was at a premium during halftime of Portland State’s home football game against Montana on Saturday, Nov. 2nd. The Vikings were delighting their fans by shrugging off a 7-0 first-quarter deficit and storming to a 17-14 halftime lead against the eighth-ranked Montana Grizzlies. 

With 19 seconds to go in the first half, Vikings quarterback Davis Alexander lofted a 40-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mataio Talalemotu to send the crowd into a frenzy and send PSU to the locker room ahead at the break. 

All the momentum appeared to be on the Vikings’ side as they continued to build off their improved play on the road the last couple weeks and were now landing punches to a heavyweight in a place they had not lost all season. 

Unfortunately for PSU, games are not won in only two quarters of play. 

Give Montana credit, they made the proper adjustments. The Vikings were without running back Sirgeo Hoffman, who had rushed for 361 yards in the previous two games but was out due to leg injuries. This allowed the Grizzlies to key in on Portland State’s passing attack, and Alexander found himself under pressure for the majority of the afternoon. 

In the third quarter, Montana quarterback Cam Humphrey found receiver Samori Toure twice for consecutive touchdowns to give the Grizzlies a solid 28-17 lead. With the third quarter winding down, PSU made one last push as Alexander found receiver Davis Koetter for a 9-yard touchdown to draw the Vikings within 28-23.

However, the ensuing two-point conversion attempt came up short, and Humphrey put the game on ice early in the fourth quarter with a 76-yard touchdown bomb to receiver Samuel Akem. The Vikings could muster no more points the rest of the period, and Montana tacked on a field goal in the fourth quarter for the final margin of 38-23.  

A loss like this hurts Portland State’s conference ranking. The Vikings had won three of their last four, put on impressive performances in consecutive road games and had a huge opportunity to leapfrog Montana in the Big Sky Conference standings with a victory by virtue of a tie-breaker on their home field. 

Instead, the Vikings find themselves back in the middle of the pack, with a 3-3 conference record (5-5 overall). 

The Vikings will face UC Davis next in their final home game of the season, which will also be the last home game in the careers of a handful of seniors before heading up to close out the regular season against Eastern Washington. 

The Montana loss stings, but the Vikings still have the chance to finish strong and secure a winning record and a shot at the postseason if they can recapture the fire they’ve displayed in recent weeks.