Chachere shines as Portland State grabs win No. 1 over Northern Arizona
Trib's take: Portland State made it a little uneasy toward the end, but held on for its first win of the season in its first home game of the year, downing Northern Arizona 35-27. The signs of explosiveness on offense finally showed themselves, at least for the first half against the Lumberjacks.
Starting quarterback Dante Chachere continues to prove how versatile of a player he is, going 22 for 28 passing for 274 yards and three touchdowns. He was also the Vikings leading rusher with 12 carries for 128 yards, most of that coming on a 72-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that put the Vikings up 21-7.
PSU scored 17, 6 and 16 points in its first three games. Against NAU, the Vikings had more points in just under 16 minutes of game time. The signs of an impressive offense were there in those first three games, and finally getting an opponent more on their talent level allowed for the explosive plays to be just a little bit more notable.
Not to be forgotten is the second half however, as PSU's offense went cold, only scoring seven points on a fourth-quarter touchdown. Defensively, the Vikings were stout until that frame when they gave up 20 points and kept the Lumberjacks within one score with four minutes to go.
PSU found itself on offense quite a bit more on Saturday, but the defense left some questions still after the fourth quarter, finishing with 427 total yards allowed to NAU.
But if this game proved anything, it's that Chachere is going to be a fun watch every single Saturday.
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Big picture: Chachere not only showed off his talents, but he made a connection with receiver Mataio Talalemotu. Three of them in fact that all went for touchdowns and 106 total yards, including a 66-yarder on a fourth-down play from the PSU 34 in the fourth quarter. Beau Kelly has been the mainstay of the Vikings receiving corps, still grabbing eight catches Saturday for 85 yards, but Talalemotu has given PSU another reliable scoring threat through the air. Chachere's scrambling ability opens up more opportunities for this offense, and having more options will only make this team more dangerous as the season progresses.
Oh, yes!: Big plays were numerous for the Vikings, starting with Chachere's 72-yard TD run. The sophomore dropped back to pass, but quickly saw a hole to his right and took off. After passing the line of scrimmage, it was nothing but open field really as the speedster went untouched to the end zone. And the 66-yard TD pass to Talalemotu was a quick seam route where the Lumberjacks had no safety to stop the senior wideout after he blew by his man off the line.
Oh, no!: NAU scored touchdowns on its final three possessions of the game and it took the Vikings offense to play enough stall ball in the final four minutes to hold on to the win. Two of those drives went 63 and 80 yards and both were completed under three minutes. If the Vikings want to close out more games, the defense will need to be better when it comes to three or two-minute drills and avoiding giving up the big play as well.
Next game: Lincoln (CA) at Portland State, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 (ESPN+)
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