Last season against Idaho State, Portland State quarterback Connor Kavanaugh set the school record for most touchdowns scored by a QB with four.

On Saturday, against Idaho State, Vikings quarterback Kieran McDonagh broke that record by scoring five TDs at Jeld-Wen Field.

Behind McDonagh’s dynamic scoring and the Vikings' best defensive performance of the season, Portland State rolled over Idaho State 77-10 before an announced crowd of 5,754.

While it was the most impressive win in some time for the Vikings, Portland State coach Nigel Burton refused to be wowed by the blowout score.

“It was a Big Sky win, so they’re all big when you can win in this conference, it’s a tough conference,” Burton said. “In the end, a win is a win. It’s all about how you execute and how you play (rather) than about scoreboards.”

For the record, Burton said that the Vikings “executed pretty well.”

McDonagh, a true freshman making his fifth start, finished with 10 rushes for 66 yards and four TDs and caught a touchdown pass. With his arm, McDonagh completed 15 of 23 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown.

McDonagh’s five touchdowns were not the only noteworthy statistic coming from the offense.

The Vikings scored their most points in a game since they beat Weber State 75-0 on November 22, 1980. The Vikings also set the all-time mark for most yards rushing with 437, breaking the previous mark of 436 that they set last year against Idaho State. The Vikings gained 758 total yards, narrowly missing the all-time record (788 against Eastern Montana in 1976).

“It was a coming out game for the offense as a whole,” McDonagh said. “I knew that we had this in us. It was just a matter of time before we put it all together.”

As well as McDonagh and the offense played, the defensive performance may have offered the most encouragement for Portland State (2-4, 1-2 Big Sky). The defense has been the team’s Achilles' heel this season. The defense had given up an average of 38 points and 383.6 yards per game. On Saturday, though, the PSU defense was very good.

The Bengals (1-4, 0-2) had 349 yards (281 passing, 68 rushing), but the Portland State defense was usually able to keep Idaho State off the scoreboard. Portland State’s defense also created five turnovers and scored two TDs.

“This is a big momentum changer for us,” linebacker Ian Sluss said, of the PSU defense. “It’s a big confidence boost. We’re making a lot of progress. Tonight showed that and gave us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.”

McDonagh completed 11 of 18 passes for 150 yards in the first half. It was as a runner and a receiver that he made his mark, though.

On the Vikings' first drive, McDonagh put Portland State up 7-0 with a 26-yard touchdown run. He faked a handoff, tucked the ball away and broke to the right sideline. With the defense going for the fake, McDonagh was easily able to scamper into the end zone.

The score remained 7-0 until the second quarter. Then McDonagh really started lighting up the scoreboard.

With 10:29 remaining in the half, Portland State had the ball on the Idaho State 22-yard line. McDonagh pitched the ball to Thomas Carter. The Vikings receiver lobbed a short pass to McDonagh, who was able to cross the goal line untouched and put Portland State up 14-0.

“It was a play that we’ve been working on a little bit, and we thought we could catch them off guard,” McDonagh said. “We just slipped it out the back door and ran the QB throwback.”

Idaho State answered with a touchdown. Quarterback Kevin Yost completed an 11-yard TD pass to Luke Austin that made the score 14-7.

McDonagh put the Vikings up 21-7 with 7:03 remaining in the half when he took a keeper 11 yards into the end zone.

Bengals kicker Brendon Garcia made it 21-10 with a 26-yard field goal.

Portland State running back DJ Adams then put the Vikings up 28-10. Adams took a handoff up the middle, broke past the Bengals' second wave of defense and was gone, 47 yards to the end zone.

Adams finished the game with 14 carries for 148 yards.

On the ensuing kickoff, Portland State kicker Nick Fernandez kicked short. The ball only carried to the 33-yard line. Idaho State defensive lineman Chris Edwards signaled for a fair catch. He misjudged the kick, though, and had to dive forward in an effort to corral it. The ball bounced out of Edwards’ hands, and Portland State recovered on the 30.

Six plays later, McDonagh scored his fourth TD of the half on a 2-yard off tackle keeper.

Portland State went into halftime leading 35-10.

With 10:06 remaining in the third quarter, McDonagh put the Vikings up 42-10 with his fifth touchdown. With the ball on the Idaho State 2, McDonagh took the snap and ran forward on a draw. The 6-1, 240-pounder was met at the goal line by two Bengals defenders. McDonagh bounced off the attempted tackles and made his way across the goal line.

“The offensive line did a great job, and with the downfield blocking, they made it easy for me to get in there,” McDonagh said, of his overall rushing success.

With 6:06 remaining in the third quarter, the Vikings capped off a 99-yard drive with McDonagh’s first TD pass of the game. This time, it was McDonagh who threw to Carter. McDonagh faked a draw, stepped back and lofted a pass across the middle that found Carter open in the end zone for a 12-yard score and a 49-10 lead.

“We had run that play (the draw) three times for touchdowns,” McDonagh said. “We just decided to throw out of it with a play-action pass. 'TC' ran across the middle and made a great catch.”

As the third quarter began winding down, the Vikings' defense began putting points on the board.

With 3:36 remaining in the quarter, Sluss picked off a Yost pass and took it back 52 yards for a touchdown. After the PAT, Portland State led 56-10.

“They ran a couple of (plays) like that all night, and I hadn’t been defending it very well,” Sluss said. “I hopped under the slant, and it was green grass from there.”

On Idaho State’s next possession, Vikings linebacker Khalil Bass recovered a fumble by Bengals running back Aaron Prier. Bass scooped the ball up and rambled 24 yards to the end zone to give Portland State a 63-10 lead.

“I read run,” Bass said. “I saw Sluss make the hit in the defensive backfield. The ball just went up in the air, and that’s the end of the story.”

Portland State reserve running back Malcolm Johnson then ran 12 yards for a touchdown with 9:07 remaining in the fourth quarter. After the PAT, Portland State led 70-10.

Johnson then ran in a 25-yard TD with 5:17 left. When Fernandez hit the PAT, Portland State was up 77-10.

Portland State will have two weeks to enjoy this win. After a bye next week, the Vikings will go on the road to face undefeated Cal Poly. Burton said that a blowout win before a bye could generate a significant amount of confidence in his team.

“It does make the guys feel good, because sitting with a loss for two weeks would not have been fun,” Burton said. “They see how good they can be when they execute. They’re getting it.”

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