Vikings upbeat after Oregon takes them down
EUGENE — Portland State was every bit the overmatched boxer fighting for a payday on Saturday afternoon against Oregon.
After a 62-14 beating at the hands of the Pac-12 Ducks, the Big Sky Vikings emerged richer and surprisingly upbeat.
"They realize this is, a quote 'money game,'" Portland State coach Bruce Barnum said of his players. "They know why we're playing Oregon. They (the Ducks) are not in our league. They're better than us. But if they (PSU players) realize what we're doing and get better and then bring that into our league instead of sliding, we've got a chance."
Saturday's defeat was the second blowout one of the season for Portland State, which fell 72-19 at Nevada last week. The Vikings (0-2) have lost 15 consecutive games. The last time they won was November 2016, when they beat UC Davis on the road, 51-29. PSU hasn't won in the state of Oregon since Oct. 1, 2016, when it beat Idaho State 45-20.
"None of us like taking a loss," Vikings quarterback Jalani Eason said. "Nobody is used to losing. No guy likes losing. Everyone is hungry for that first win. These first two games weren't easy.
"Now we have to go into our next game to try to get the 'W.' We're going to try to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and then get ready for practice on Tuesday, clean things up and get ready for our next game."
The Vikings' next game figures to favor them. Portland State will take on NAIA College of Idaho at Hillsboro Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday.
"We're the Oregon next week," Barnum said. "Let's just make sure that what we just worked on in the opening two weeks, let's polish it up so we're ready to hit Montana State in our conference (at home on Sept. 22). That's the plan."
PSU was outmatched throughout Saturday's game on both sides of the ball.
Oregon (2-0) piled up 562 yards of total offense. The Ducks had 266 yards passing and 296 yards on the ground.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was a particular problem for Portland State. Herbert completed 20 of 26 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns. He also was a key factor in the Ducks converting seven of 11 third downs.
"Justin Herbert was everything we thought he was and more," Barnum said. "He got them out of every third down. He threw into windows. We knew he was good. But he threw some dimes, ran the system. That happened on that side of the ball."
Portland State was held to 224 yards, 158 in the air and 66 rushing.
"Offensively, we did a couple of things, but not much," Barnum said.
Portland State executed part of its game plan, though. The Vikings held onto the ball for 32 minutes, 44 seconds and many times gave Oregon a long field to work with.
It did not affect the final score that much, though.
Even when the Vikings pinned the Ducks inside the 1-yard-line in the first quarter, Oregon was able to march down the field for a touchdown in eight plays and 2:45.
"I wanted to stall them," Barnum said. "I wanted to burn the clock. I wanted to give them long fields. Those two things came to fruition. But their offense was so powerful, that piece didn't work. Kudos to Oregon and Herbert."
The highlight of the game for Portland State was tight end Charlie Taumoepeau. The 6-3, 240-pounder out of Federal Way, Washington caught five passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Taumoepeau's first TD came with 7:44 remaining in the first half. Eason was flushed out of the pocket and released the ball just before he was hit.
"I just scrambled out," Eason said. "The guy was open. I tried to make a play for my team."
Taumoepeau caught the ball along the right sideline with a defender on him. Taumoepeau slipped the initial tackle attempt and was gone, 71 yards into the end zone to make the score 21-7.
"It was just a regular dig route," Taumoepeau said. "Jalani is really good with his feet. He scrambled out. I tried to turn, find some space, and he threw a perfect ball. I got the ball and felt a dude try to grab my legs. I jumped out of it and just ran into the end zone."
At the start of the fourth quarter, Barnum dialed up a trick play that had receiver Beau Kelly tossing a downfield pass. Taumoepeau hauled in the slightly underthrown ball before he was brought down at the Oregon 19 for a 47-yard gain.
"Coach Barnum loves his trick plays," Taumoepeau said. "They (the Ducks) were keying me the whole game. I didn't think they would ever take their eyes off me. I faked like I was going to block a little bit. My eyes blew up a little bit because I saw all of them leave. That's when I took off. He threw me a pretty solid ball. I had to come back for it a little bit, but it was a huge play for us to get into the red zone."
Four plays later, Eason found Taumoepeau open over the middle for a 4-yard touchdown.
Eason finished the game 7 of 14 passing for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Taumoepeau is off to a fabulous start this season. Against Nevada, he caught three passes for 130 yards and another two TDs.
"He's even better than last year," Barnum said. "He's a little bigger, a little faster. He's got sneaky speed. And his attitude and how he approaches the game, it's like a sandlot football game. He just loves playing it. When we get to our level, we're excited what Charlie is going to bring to the table in the Big Sky."
Oregon was impressed with the Portland State junior tight end.
"We knew their tight end was pretty good and pretty much ready for the league (NFL)," Ducks defensive end Jalen Jelks said.
The Vikings said their effort against the Ducks will serve as a stepping-stone.
"We came out and played as hard as we could," Eason said. "There were mistakes, but we played the best we could. That's all I can ask from my guys. We need to clean up the mistakes and try to get ready for next week."
Taumoepeau knows the Vikings need to move on quickly.
"The mind-set is to flush it," Taumoepeau said. "We had our good plays, we had our bad plays. But the biggest thing is for us to stay together. Take everything from today as a lesson and learn from it. We feel pretty good right now. Our mind-set is on next week. We're ready to win and get into conference play."
Barnum left Saturday's payday fight ready for the rest of the season.
"We got better," Barnum said. "We improved. I saw an attitude on my football team. I told my football team, 'I'm probably the happiest 0-2 coach you'll ever have.'"
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