The gridiron Portland State Vikings upset the #24 Weber State Wildcats on Saturday in Ogden, Utah with a statement 30–18 win advancing to 5–4 (4–2) this season. In their third straight win, this is the first time the team has made it over .500 this season, and is their second ever road win.
This was not an upset; the win was expected by the Vikings. Prior to the win, both Portland State and Weber State had identical records of 4–4 (3–2). The Viks are now sixth in the Big Sky Conference with two more weeks left of football. Anything could happen. The Vikings’s last two games of the season will also be against top 25 schools, #16 Sacramento State in Sacramento, California and #5 Eastern Washington at home.
PSU’s Malik Walker gave the team two touchdowns and ran for 90 yards. Freshman running back Jalynnee McGee averaged 11 yards per rush. Davis Alexander went 29 for 42 and threw for a huge 299 yards. The Viks had 129 rushing yards compared to Weber State’s 69 yards. Viks were also 8–15 on third downs as compared to the Wildcats 3–13.
Offense and defense did their job, holding them to only 18 points. Before the game, the Wildcats defense gave up only 21 points per game on average. Darien Chase showed out with five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Nate Bennet had 9 catches for 83 yards. Anthony Adams led defense with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss. Broderick Harrell and Parker McKenna both had six tackles.
This game was slow scoring for the longest time. Back and forth, back and forth. Viks get a couple first downs, then three and out. Weber State gets first downs, then three and out. The Wildcats strike first, breaking loose with a 51 yard run by Creyton Cooper. The Viks started out the second quarter with a nearly six minute drive to get a field goal to make the game 7–3 Wildcats. If Alexander needs a first down, count on him to do it himself and run it in.
The Viks made it to the red zone in the last three of their drives and with 56 seconds before halftime, Walker ran it in for a touchdown, giving Portland State their first lead of the game. Getting a sack against Weber State officially gives defensive tackle VJ Malo his 10th sack of the season and makes his contempt for quarterbacks apparent.
Alexander and the Vikings know how to take their time with the ball. On another five-minute drive, McGee ran for two straight first downs and 22 yards and Chase caught the ball over the defender in the end zone, giving the Viks the 24–10 lead with 12 minutes left in the game.
Even with an Adams tackle for loss, the Wildcats were not out of the game in their drive. After an apparent pass interference from Adams, Wildcats threatened with a touchdown and a successful two point conversion, faking their extra point. The game was 24–18. The fans at Stewart Stadium were real quiet. The Viks could not get a score after Weber State made that touchdown but defense had their day, stopping the Wildcats in their own end zone. Viks got the ball and got an explosive play by Walker with a 39-yard run to the house to solidify the win over a top-25 program.
Portland State plays against Sacramento State Hornets next week on Nov. 13. They are 7–2 and 6–0 in conference. The Viks have a tougher schedule than the Hornets. Portland State started off the season against two schools from Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)—University of Hawai’i and Washington State—in addition to both Montana State and Weber State.
The Hornets will have played University of Northern Iowa and Montana before playing PSU next Saturday. The Vikings and Hornets are extremely close when it comes to points per game. Portland State averages 28.3 points per game while Sacramento State averages 29 points per game. The Viks have a higher third-down percentage with 44.1% compared to Sac State’s 38.1%. The Vikings defense has more turnovers than the Hornets, 17 compared to 14. Defense also allows more points than the Hornets, with 26 from the Viks and 19.78 from Sac State.
PLAYER PROFILE: MALIK WALKER
#27 running back Malik Walker has been a problem for defense recently. Walker gave the Viks two touchdowns and 90 yards in the Vikings 30–18 win over Weber State on Saturday. The six-foot senior from Corona, California had his season-high rush with 39 yards against Weber State, and leads the Viks with nine touchdowns overall. In addition to playing all nine games of the season so far, Walker was named Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Week after the Viks dominated California Polytechnic State 42–21. He rushed 14 times for 116 yards—with another pair of touchdowns—and nothing is stopping him from doing more damage against Sacramento State on Nov. 13.
Coming off of a successful three-game winning streak over powerhouse schools like Northern Colorado and Weber State, the Viks got handed their first conference home loss to Sacramento State. The Viks struggled against the Hornets when they traveled to Sacramento on Oct. 19 in a sweep—but were ready to come back strong.
The Viks won the first set but couldn’t finish it, losing 3–1 (25–19, 15–25, 22–25, 23–25). Makayla Lewis had 12 kills and three blocks, and Maddy Reeb had seven kills and three blocks. Parker Webb had two aces in that match. Ellie Snook showed out again with 25 digs. Ally Wada was behind her with a double-double, 14 digs and 13 assists.
Portland State had a .075 hitting percentage and Sacramento State had a .169 hitting percentage. Both teams tied for five aces—but both had stacked up errors, with 29 from the Viks and 26 from the Hornets.
The Vikings moved on and traveled to Cedar City, Utah, to beat Southern Utah 3–1 (29–17, 25–20, 19–25, 25–23) in their last road game of the regular season. On the outside, that 3–1 win looked easy, but the Viks struggled a little to win those sets.
The Thunderbirds were 2–11 before playing the Viks but Portland State’s chemistry at the game on Saturday did not make the Birds look like a 2–11 team. While PSU had 34 errors, the Thunderbirds had only 17; and where the Viks had five blocks, Southern Utah had 13. Lewis led the team with 16 kills and an impressive three aces. Zoe McBride also had three aces total, after hitting two in a row this match. Gabby Hollins had 14 kills, while Webb had 12 kills. Southern Utah was competitive the whole match with multiple lead changes but, ultimately, the Vikings prevailed.
After the Southern Utah win, all eyes were on the Northern Colorado vs. Weber State match, which went to five sets. Northern Colorado won in a close game, 3–2 (23–25, 25–15, 23–25, 25–19, 7–15) which makes the Big Sky table even more entertaining.
PSU’s last two games of the regular season are right here at the Viking Pavilion, against the Montana State Bobcats on Thursday, Nov. 11 and on Saturday, Nov. 13 against the Grizzlies of University of Montana. The Viks have already beat both teams in a quick Montana road trip, 3–2 over the Grizzlies and 3–1 over the Bobcats. Montana State is 9–5 in conference play and University of Montana is 6–8. Northern Colorado plays a low-standing Eastern Washington and Idaho to finish out the season, and Weber State plays a 9–5 Northern Arizona and Southern Utah at home in Utah.
Northern Colorado, Portland State and Weber State all have an 11–3 record. Now with three schools tied for first place—and only two matches left in the regular season—Portland State could very much finish first in the Big Sky table.