Vikings get their 'W'
HILLSBORO — That was different.
After being blown out by a combined 134-33 by Nevada and Oregon, the Portland State Vikings changed roles and enjoyed a laugher of a 63-14 victory Saturday over College of Idaho.
PSU had the game in hand well before halftime before an announced matinee crowd of 2,354 at Hillsboro Stradium.
PSU not only won its home opener, but the Vikings also ended a 15-game losing streak that dated to Nov. 5, 2016, when the FCS Viks beat UC Davis.
A monkey off the back?
"Yeah, it is," Portland State coach Bruce Barnum said. "We needed to get back on that 'W' train."
NAIA C of I, which plays with Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon and others in the Frontier Conference, fell to 0-4.
The Vikings led 14-0 after 9 minutes, 19 seconds, then 28-7 after one quarter and 49-14 at the half.
PSU outgained the Coyotes, 667 yards to 231, for the game.
The Viks ran for 350 yards (7.6 per carry) after totaling 173 yards (2.1 average) in their first two games.
PSU quarterbacks Davis Alexander and Jalani Eason split time, each playing a half, and each was able to savor a win for the first time since high school.
"It was great getting back in the 'W' column," Alexander said. "There's smiles across the board."
Alexander was 6 of 11 passing for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran four times for 77 yards and a TD.
Eason completed 5 of 6 throws for 134 yards and one touchdown, and ran eight times for 83 yards.
"Davis was clean, didn't turn the football over," Barnum said. "He saw the field, that was probably the best thing. He saw coverages and knew what (the Yotes) were doing."
Eason also did what the coach wanted him to do.
"They both executed the game plan well, and Jalani showed his speed," Barnum said.
Eason said "last year didn't go as expected and the first two games this year didn't go as expected … but I see every opponent as the same, so we treated them (the Yotes) like Oregon. I came in here today, played to the best of my ability, got a couple of touchdowns, did my job, and I've got to thank the guys up front for keeping me pretty much clean in the second half."
Portland State raised its record against lower-division opponents to 16-0 since the Park Blocks school joined the Big Sky in 1996. And Barnum wasn't apologizing for this latest win — the first in the past nine home games for his Vikings. His club badly needed the boost in confidence and everything else that can come from being on the winning end of a final score.
"You taste this, and it's easy to get something rolling," he said. "We need that feeling. It's different winning a football game. Oregon felt the same way last week when they beat us."
Barnum said one of his goals for Saturday's game was to look more closely at more of his players, especially on offense and at the skill positions.
"It was a check-my-depth game," Barnum said. "I needed to kind of secure who was going to play behind" the first unit.
That mission also was accomplished. Nine Vikings caught either one or a team-high two passes, with four of them scoring.
The first TD pass went, appropriately, to tight end Charlie Taumoepeau, who has been the team's biggest weapon. Taumoepeau took a pass over the middle from Alexander on PSU's fourth play from scrimmage and split a two-deep secondary in going 71 yards for a 7-0 lead.
"I was expecting more double- and triple-teams," Taumoepeau said. "It was a third-down play (with four yards to do), and I looked at the defense and said, 'There's no way they're giving me this Cover 2 (two safeties deep). I just ran a post toward the middle, caught it and then just took off and tried to run as fast as I could."
"The kid's got some talent," Barnum said. "With his humility and his talent, he'll help us win a lot of games."
Taumoepeau is a 6-3, 240-pound junior from Federal Way, Washington.
"He's your go-to guy," Alexander said. "You get in any sort of pickle, you know you have a playmaker — we've got playmakers everywhere — but Charlie's clearly the special talent. He knows he's better than everyone else on the field, and that's part of the game, just the confidence, find your best matchup and pick them apart until they have to bring someone else over (to cover him), and then you see other guys score."
In all, nine players scored on Saturday for Portland State.
"The whole fall camp, I've seen it every day, what our running backs and receivers can do," Taumoepeau said. "I'm glad they showed all Viking fans what they can do."
In the second quarter, freshman Mataio Talalemoto from Beaverton High hauled in a 39-yard TD pass and sophomore transfer Emmanuel Daigbe scored on a 5-yard reception. It was the first college touchdown for both players.
Alexander's 16-yard run for a score with 51 seconds left in the second quarter gave PSU a 35-point lead.
"I thought we played pretty well," Alexander said. "Just focused on trying to be totally crisp and execute, no matter the score."
Also in the first half, running backs Darian Green and Carlos Martin scored on runs of 2 and 6 yards, respectively, and the defense got in the act as well, with safety Anthony Adams from Newberg falling on a fumble in the end zone.
Portland State's final two touchdowns came in the fourth quarter. First, 5-8 soph running back Antwone Williams scored on a 14-yard run. Then, with 6:27 to go, wideout Davis Koetter, a converted QB and the son of Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter, caught his first college touchdown pass, a 41-yarder.
College of Idaho ran for 113 yards (3.1 average) and was 13 of 27 in the air for 118 yards. The Yotes lost two fumbles and had two passes picked off (by free safety Sam Inos and rover Romeo Gunt, both among the many newcomers to the PSU roster this season).
"It was good for us to go out and play Nevada and Oregon," Inos said.
The Vikings' goal is to get at least three turnovers every game.
"It builds up our confidence to have the defense score," Inos said.
Twenty-three Viks were in on at least one tackle, and PSU had 12 tackles-for-loss.
"I wanted a clean, fast, penalty-free game," Barnum said.
He got most of that, although nine penalties for 102 yards were too many for his liking.
Overall, though, Barnum said he players "improved from last week, and they've improved every week so far. Now it gets real."
Portland State will open its eight-game Big Sky season at Hillsboro Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday against Montana State.
"This game was huge, to get everything going and assure ourselves that we can play with anybody," Taumoepeau said. "I think we're ready for the Big Sky. It's going to be fun."
The Bobcats won on Saturday, too, downing Wagner, 47-24, to improve to 2-1.
"Now it's like a playoff game every game," Alexander said. "It felt great today, but I think the main thing is, you notice people are still hungry."