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Vikings hold off Eagles, 34-31

PGE Park stayed a faithful home field to head coach Tim Walsh on Saturday night as he earned the 64th win of his career. He is now the winningest coach in Portland State football history. Walsh passes former coach Pokey Allen on the all-time win list.

Sophomore running back Ryan Fuqua was able to offer great assistance in the victory by racking up 264 total yards on the ground. The win improved the Vikings’ record to 4-2 overall, 1-1 in the Big Sky Conference.

Portland State’s defense came out strong early in the game, forcing and recovering a fumble. On Eastern Washington’s first play from scrimmage, David Goodloe caused the turnover to give the Vikings an early opportunity to get on the board.

“Defensively, I think we played pretty well. We forced some turnovers that gave our offense a chance,” Fuqua said.

Fuqua carried the Vikings offense 53 yards in nine plays for a touchdown on the first drive. All of those yards were gained on the ground to give the team an early edge, 7-0. Later in the first quarter, Mike Cajal-Willis put through a short field goal to increase the lead.

Portland State had an effective first half on offense, putting 24 points on the board. Fuqua tallied 155 yards rushing in the first half alone. The two other touchdowns in the first half came from Hashim Hall and Juston Wood. Hall’s touchdown came from three yards out, while Wood’s came through the air when he hit Antonio Jackson from 27 yards out.

“It’s good to be back on the scoring end, to show what our offense is capable of. This is what our offense can do if we are efficient,” Fuqua said.

Eastern Washington kept themselves in the game by mounting a late second-quarter drive to make it 24-14 at halftime.

The two teams only kicked field goals in the third quarter. Portland State got a 39-yard field goal from Cajal-Willis, and the Eagles’ Rich Heintz put one through the uprights from 30 yards out. At the end of the third quarter, the score was 27-17.

The fourth quarter brought more offense on the ground from Fuqua. He was able to burst through the secondary and turn it on for a 77-yard touchdown run. However, the Eagles’ offense provided one more touchdown from that point to make it 34-24. Then the Eagle’s special teams set up Eric Kimble for an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. The score was 34-31 from that point until the end of play.

�����For the game, the Vikings’ racked up 475 yards of offense, with a season-high 34 points. Fuqua ended the contest with 41 carries and 264 gained yards for the third-highest rushing total of his career. Wood was 12-18 for 190 yards and no interceptions for the second straight game. Antonio Jackson caught four passes for 75 yards to lead all receivers, and tight end Tim Hester caught two passes for 67 yards.

Next up for the Vikings is Sacramento State. The Hornets beat Northern Arizona on Saturday, a team that Portland State fell to two weeks ago. Next Saturday, the Vikings will travel to Sacramento to play an important conference match-up.