Yes indeed, Vikings football played the last game of its miserable season last Saturday. Because I am such a supporter of the team, and also because I get in free with my Vanguard press pass, I was at PGE Park trooping it out in the drizzly Portland weather.
Unfortunately, I don’t turn 21 for another week. The national drinking age, therefore, rendered me unable to drink my frustrations away at the sight of the 25-14 Viking loss. Like many other PSU fans, I could have used a nice, tall, alcoholic beverage after halftime. Instead, I was forced to settle for a hot dog that cost me $4.50.
What’s worse is, I found myself sitting one row below a group of girls who, obviously, were able to pound down a few rounds during the game. Their inebriated screams of disapproval made it very apparent that they were none too happy with the Viking men’s performance.
One of the girls had an accent; I couldn’t tell if she was European or if she was just from the East Coast. It was difficult to understand what she was yelling to the field at the top of her lungs. After PSU kicker Matt Langford missed a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter, I think I understood the girl correctly when she yelled what sounded like, “Hey! You suck mine and Montana’s bunka!” Although one can only imagine what bunka means, there was really no reason to argue her point. The play did, in fact, really disappoint the crowd.
Earlier, during the second quarter, Langford kicked a beautiful punt. The only problem with the kick was that it resulted in a 62-yard punt return for touchdown by Montana State’s Corey Smith. In Langford’s defense, I have to say, it’s not the kicker’s fault when the rest of special teams didn’t do their job and block the run. If everyone else does nothing more than stand there and let the opponent run by, they might as well have given Montana the ball and the points.
It is difficult for me to determine what exactly the Vikings have done wrong with their season. Why aren’t they winning? With a final season record of 4-7, and 1-6 in Big Sky Conference play, there have got to be some answer to the mystery behind the Vikings failure.
The team simply cannot get all of its parts functioning well at the same time. Sometimes offense is on, other times defense is on, and once in a while the special teams show up and make a play. But they never get the job done together.
Head coach Tim Walsh gave his thoughts on the outcome of the game when he said, “If we don’t play well in all three areas, we struggle. I knew we were going to have some problems blocking them, but special teams, realistically, cost us some points. Our guys were playing for pride tonight, and I think they showed a lot of character. I am proud of the way they played.”
In the last minute of the first half, quarterback Joe Wiser made us all proud when he came up with another one of his amazing two-minute drills. Even the drunk girls sitting behind me were cheering for him. Wiser put together a six-play drive for 62 yards in only 50 seconds. The touchdown, made by Ryan Fuqua, was the last of the game.
However, Wiser was not on fire all night long. Defense carried the team for most of the game, digging Wiser out of the gaping holes he, and the rest of offense, left out on the field. It seemed as though every time Portland State’s defense got the ball going in the right direction, its offense willingly handed it back to the other team.
In the third quarter, defense recovered the ball only to see it given back to Montana because of a bad snap. The play put Montana on the PSU 6-yard line. For those of us in the stands, the offense’s inadequacies were almost unbearable. It was all anyone could do to keep the girls behind me from running down on the field to scream directly at the offensive line.
On the whole, the Vikings only managed to get 112 offensive yards. Wiser only threw for 96 yards, which is the worst he has done all season, and the team rushed for only 16 yards. It was a pitiful sight, and it looks even worse on paper.
It is sad to see a team end on such a disappointing note, but there is always next season. Next year, when the Vikings football team is back in action, I will be of legal drinking age. And if the team wants a more positive interpretation of its performance, it will have two options: either win or buy me a couple beers to pacify me.