It was an early start on Saturday, Oct. 7 as the Bobcats took on conference opponent Portland State during Parent’s Weekend. The Cats were looking to improve to 2-1 in the conference, while the Vikings were hoping to pick up their first win after an 0-4 start to their season.
The game started off slow. It wasn’t until the end of the first quarter that the Cats managed to draw first blood. An impressive four-play, 60-yard drive, capped off with a three-yard touchdown scramble by sophomore quarterback Chris Murray, put the Bobcats up 7-0. Mid-second quarter, Portland State was able to capitalize on an interception thrown by Murray, turning it into a touchdown and evening the score at seven apiece. Toward the end of the first half, MSU was able to put together a 53-yard drive ending in a 34-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Gabe Peppinger after several costly penalties. The half came to a close with the Bobcats leading Portland State 10-7.
The Cats started off the second half with an electric 11-play, 75-yard drive, marching all the way down the field for another Murray rushing touchdown from the five-yard line. Senior running back Nick Lasane and freshman running back Troy Andersen combined for 53 rushing yards on nine attempts during the drive. The point after was blocked, putting MSU up 16-7 in the third quarter. Portland State’s next drive resulted in a three and out; the Vikings’ punt attempt was botched in the end-zone and Bobcat freshman defensive end Chad Kanow was able to pounce on the loose ball for a touchdown. With the crowd roaring in excitement, the Bobcats were ahead 23-7. Portland State answered with a touchdown of their own at the end of the third quarter, making it a nine-point contest.
The Cats put together a big drive that stretched from the end of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth. They managed to get down to the Vikings half yard line but were stuffed on both third and fourth downs, resulting in a turnover. When Head Coach Jeff Choate was questioned after the game about his thought process on the goal line stand he responded plainly,” we were going to go for it, and we didn’t get it,” adding, “even if we don’t get it [Portland State] is going to be backed up with the wind in their face.”
Later in the fourth quarter the Bobcats’ defense forced another three-and-out for Portland State. During the Vikings’ punt attempt, Cats junior tight end Connor Sullivan was able to get a hand on the ball, resulting in great field position for MSU. The Cats took advantage of this as senior wide receiver Justin Paige had a nice 23-yard touchdown run, with some help from a big block by Murray. This put the Bobcats ahead 30-14.
Late in the fourth quarter the Vikings managed to score a touchdown and pull off a successful two-point conversion. At 30-22, the Vikings made it a one-possession game. With just over a minute left, Portland State was forced to try an onside kick. The attempt was unsuccessful, with the ball taking a few hops and sailing out of bounds. The Cats went into victory formation, kneeling the ball to end the contest.
After the game Choate was happy about the win, stating, “this was probably a game we’d lose a year ago,” adding, ”wins are hard to come by, and this sets us up for a big game against Eastern Washington next weekend.” He also praised his defensive, saying, ”the defensive line was able to consistently apply pressure, which is something we’ve struggled with at times.”
Murray struggled passing, completing only two of his nine attempts for only nine yards, but his legs helped carry the team with 18 rushing attempts for an impressive 126 yards. After the contest, Murray voiced his disappointment about his passing game, something that he said would have to be improved in the coming weeks. The Cats ended the game with an astounding 403 rushing yards, which ranked sixth all time in Cats history. The Cats will take on ranked conference opponent Eastern Washington in Cheney, Washington on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 2:05 p.m.