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Vikings give up six touchdown passes, never lead in dropping Big Sky opener at Pocatello

The good news for Portland State was it was only one game, only one loss.

The good news for Idaho State was that it rediscovered its offense in time for the Big Sky season.

With quarterback Matt Struck passing for six touchdowns, the Bengals routed PSU 51-24 Saturday afternoon at Pocatello, Idaho.

The Vikings were hardly ever in it, as they fell to 2-3 overall.

Idaho State led 20-0 after one quarter, 41-10 at the half and 48-24 through three quarters.

Struck's 332 passing yards helped ISU (2-2) total 509 yards on offense.

The Vikings wound up with 505 yards, with QB Davis Alexander passing for 296 but they were down 34-3 before they got into the end zone for the first time, late in the first half.

Penalties, turnovers and other mistakes haunted Portland State, which had looked very good in its season opener at Arkansas and good in a loss at Boise State, and had two easy and huge wins over NAIA teams Simon Fraser and Eastern Oregon.

The Vikings were fortunate in a way, too, as they were able to recover all three of their fumbles along with some bobbled snaps.

The first half of the first quarter was a defensive struggle and war of punts. Then Idaho State struck on a 45-yard streak pattern pass from Struck to Michael Dean. The Bengals went up 13-0 on a 66-yard connection between Struck and Tanner Conner.

Idaho State tried an onside kick, but failed to come up with the ball. But the Bengals' Christian McFarland intercepted an Alexander pass and returned the ball 64 yards to give the home team a 20-0 lead.

Cody Williams of PSU hit a 36-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter. The Vikings' first touchdown came on a broken play, with Alexander finding Beau Kelly behind the defense for a 61-yard pass.

ISU scored, Struck to Conner, from 15 yards with 32 seconds left in the half.

Another busted play resulted in Portland State's second touchdown. Alexander lost the snap from center but picked up the ball and sprinted 19 yards and into the end zone with 2:47 to go in the third quarter, pulling the Viks to within 48-24.

Idaho State, which held off PSU 48-45 last year at Hillsboro Stadium (the Vikings were driving in ISU territory when time ran out), added a field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Inside the five-minute mark on Saturday, the Vikings drove to the Idaho State 2, but the threat ended when the Bengals stuffed back-to-back running plays to regain possession on downs.

Portland State's conference home opener is 2 p.m. Saturday against Southern Utah at Hillsboro Stadium.


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