Late field goal lifts Portland State over Montana 22-20
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A quartet of takeaways, some clock control and a freshman kicker helped Portland State end its 12-game losing streak in Big Sky Conference football with a 22-20 win over turnover-prone Montana on Saturday.
Cody Williams‘ 52-yard field goal with 4 seconds left also let Portland State (2-4, 1-2) snap its road losing streak at 10 games. It was Williams’ third field goal of the game and his career-long.
It came after a fumble by Montana’s Keenan Curran at the Portland 23 with 4:10 left in the game. The Vikings drove to the Grizzlies’ 35 — running the ball seven times and also converting a fourth-and-3 pass — before calling their final timeout with 9 seconds left.
Williams then hit the game-winner.
“Anybody who beats the Montana Grizzlies at home, you have to be proud of the group,” said fourth-year Portland State coach Bruce Barnum. “I was proud of the defense. Then credit goes to that guy down there for putting it through the sticks.”
“Throughout the whole fourth quarter everyone was coming up to me and saying, ‘Hey, it might come down to you. Get ready; we know you have it,’ ” Williams said. “I’ve been dreaming of that moment for so many years. I’m glad it finally came down to it and I was able to produce for my team.”
Montana (4-2, 2-1) had shaken off a rough start to twice take the lead in the second half, only to have the Vikings answer.
“Congrats to those guys from Portland State,” said Montana coach Bobby Hauck, who was in line for his school record-tying 85th coaching win. “Bruce did a great job today coaching, their freshman hit a big kick and they answered. We didn’t, and that falls squarely on one guy, and that’s me.”
Portland State struck quickly after recovering a Dalton Sneed fumble on the game’s first snap. Alexander Davis’ 1-yard scoring run made it 7-0, Vikings, at 11:59 of the first quarter.
Montana continued to stumble, giving up a blocked punt and another Sneed fumble in the first half and losing the ball two more times in the second.
The blocked punt by Houston Barnes set up Williams’ first field goal, from 22 yards, at 8:08 of the first quarter. Williams added a 43-yarder after Sneed was stripped again and Portland State’s Dallas House made the first of his two recoveries. That made it 13-0 with 10:38 left in the first half.
“As badly as we played the first half, we were lucky we weren’t down 28-0,” Hauck said. “The defense did a great job of keeping us in it.”
The Grizzlies got on the board early in the second half, when Dante Olson forced a Portland State fumble to give Montana the ball at the 26. Adam Eastwood scored on a 12-yard run to cut the gap to 13-7.
The Vikings went back in front when House recovered a fumble by Montana’s Alijah Lee. Sergio Hoffman had a 3-yard scoring run to make it 19-14 with 12:01 left in the game.
Montana led 20-19 after Eastwood’s second TD run, from 3 yards out with 7:46 remaining, and appeared ready to clinch it after recovering a fumble by the Vikings’ Darian Green. It was Portland State’s third lost fumble.
The Grizzlies, who missed on a two-point conversion attempt after going up 20-19, then turned it back over on a third-and-2.
“I didn’t have a good enough game plan put together, offense, defense or kicking,” Hauck said. “We didn’t execute the game plan that we had very well. I’m not overly happy with myself or our football team right now, because I don’t think we played very well.”
Olson had 19 tackles and two forced fumbles for the Grizzlies’ defense, which was on the field for 39 minutes.
Hoffman ran for 80 yards on 20 carries for the Vikings. Davis threw for 170 yards.
Eastwood finished with 88 yards on 14 carries for Montana, while Sneed, who briefly left the game after staring 1-for-10 passing and losing those fumbles, threw for 122 yards and the one score. He completed 10 of 28 passes, and ran for 37 yards.
Portland State: The Vikings (2-4, 1-2 Big Sky Conference) converted four fumbles and a blocked punt into all of their 22 points. Portland State came in having lost 12 straight Big Sky games and 10 straight on the road.
Montana: The Grizzlies (4-2, 2-1) got untracked offensively in the second half but lost two more fumbles and surrendered leads of 14-13 and 20-19. Montana fell to 29-4 in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, which opened in 1986.
Portland State: The Vikings return to Hillsboro Stadium for another Big Sky game against Northern Colorado on Oct. 13.
Montana: The Grizzlies, ranked No. 14 in the Football Championship Subdivision, take to the road to play North Dakota in a nonconference game Oct. 13.