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After a couple promising drives, the Vikings couldn't keep up with the No. 2 Grizzlies to open Big Sky play.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Quarterback Dante Chachere,  pictured at an Aug. 30 practice, made his first start for the Portland State Vikings on Thursday at San Jose State.

Trib's take: Outside of one solid drive in the second half, Portland State football was pretty much shut down by No. 2 Montana in Missoula, Montana on Saturday afternoon in 53-16 loss. Dante Chachere played about as well as one could expect going against the Grizzlies, going 9 for 13 passing for 62 yards and one TD while rushing 11 times for 36 yards.

He was able to keep some drives alive in the first half, but sat out the second half with Mike Irwin taking over. The sophomore faired worse, going for 4 for 13 passing for only 13 yards and one interception.

Not only was the offense, the stronger part of this Vikings team, stalled, but the defense had more holes than Swiss cheese in the first half, giving up 39 total points. However, 14 of those did come from special teams touchdowns, another area where PSU was dominated, outside of the game's opening kickoff (more on that follows).

Basically, the Vikings can only chalk this one up to a learning experience as they begin another campaign in the Big Sky Conference, a league that features five of the FCS' top 15 ranked teams heading into this week.

The defense was stronger in the second half, giving up only 14 points and picking up a safety when the Montana punter had a snap slip through his hands and back into the end zone.

The Grizzlies certainly exposed all the holes in this Portland State team that now sits at 0-3. Time to lick the wounds and get back to work.

Big picture: Portland State has plenty of talent at wideout, seniors all over the defense and a talented signal caller in Chachere. Yet all of that didn't matter much in Missoula. A matchup with Montana shows the Vikings exactly what it takes to be a top-tier program at the FCS level. The Vikings have a lot of work to do in order to reach that upper echelon, even within their own conference. The players currently seem to be some of the most talented PSU has had in a few years after a near win over FBS program San Jose State to open the year, but there's still plenty of work for coach Bruce Barnum to do in order to get PSU on the same playing field.

Oh yes!: The biggest highlight was the touchdown drive for PSU in the second quarter that was capped by a touchdown pass from Chachere to Beau Kelly. Before that, the Vikings got down close thanks to a trick play where Chachere pitched the ball to running back Jalynee McGee who then looked up field and connected on a 28-yard pass to Emmanuel Daigbe. That wasn't the only trick as PSU recovered the opening kickoff of the game as the Viks kicked it short and saw the ball roll past the first line of Grizzlies trying to wrangle it in. That led to an opening drive TD to start the game up 7-0. The tricks worked well Saturday, but not much else.

Oh no!: The end of the second quarter was a tough five minutes of football. After pulling within 17-14, the Grizzlies scored on the first play of their next drive when Xavier Harris went nearly untouched for a 64-yard TD. The kickoff saw the Vikings fumble the ball around and end up on their own 2-yard line. Then the next play, Chachere took the ball on a RPO, but got his feet tangled up with McGee and fell to the ground in the end zone for a safety. Montana scored another TD quickly on their next possession, giving PSU time to march into field goal range. A false start penalty gave the Viks a 54-yard attempt that came up way short, and was returned for a touchdown at the first half horn. Giving up that many free points in five minutes is pretty hard to come back from.

Next game: Northern Arizona at Portland State, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2 (ESPN+)


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