Portland State hangs with TCU until 4 quick TDs

For 28 minutes, lower-division FCS Portland State was hanging

right with No. 20 TCU – even without its top running back on the

field.

Then the Horned Frogs scored three touchdowns in a span of 1:18

just before halftime, added a 65-yard touchdown run on their first

play of the second half and went on to a 55-13 victory

Saturday.

”It was literally a 2 1/2- to 3-minute period where the game

started to get away from us,” Portland State coach Nigel Burton

said.

Portland State (2-1), which has already matched its victory

total from last season, opened the game with a 71-yard drive on 14

plays to get a 22-yard field goal by Zach Brown.

Until Josh Boyce caught a short pass on a play when the Vikings

were blitzing, the game was still tied 3-3. Boyce had a wide-open

lane down the middle of the field for a 66-yard touchdown with 1:55

left in the second quarter, and the Frogs (3-1) weren’t done before

halftime.

On the Vikings’ next snap, Drew Hubel’s pass was deflected by

Jason Verrett and intercepted by linebacker Tank Carder, the Rose

Bowl defensive MVP, who returned it for a 26-yard touchdown.

Then, after a three-and-out by Portland State, Skye Dawson had a

42-yard punt return that set up his 10-yard TD catch for a 24-3

halftime lead.

”If we take away six or eight big plays they had, obviously it

would probably be a different outcome,” quarterback Connor

Kavanaugh said. ”It just shows you how close we are but yet we

still have work to do. … (This game) gives us confidence. I think

people start to realize how good we are.”

Portland State came in as the FCS’s best rushing team with 348

yards a game, but had only 119 yards on 44 carries against TCU.

Shaquille Richard had 90 yards on 28 carries, including a 1-yarder

for the Vikings’ lone touchdown with 1:39 left in the game.

The Horned Frogs extended a school record with their 22nd

consecutive win at home since 2007.

”We’re very explosive,” said Boyce, who saw Portland State

preparing to blitz and both safeties coming to the line right

before the quick screen.

”We got a little greedy and were going to see if we could get

after the quarterback,” Burton said. ”A great team will make you

pay and then we got a blitzkrieg there in a matter of three, four

plays. That’s what great teams so, they’ll jump on you. That’s what

we talked about afterward, if you want to be a great team, we have

to learn to do that to other people.”

James took a handoff to the right to start the second half and

was quickly grabbed by a couple of defenders. They pulled him

toward the ground, but James rolled over on top of a defender and

one of his own teammates instead. James then spun away and ran to

the end zone, a touchdown that officials quickly confirmed after

looking at the replay.

James, who finished with 136 yards on 10 carries, added an

82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter – the

second week in a row the Frogs have returned one for a score.

TCU had scored 41 consecutive points before Brown’s second field

goal, a 42-yarder, with 12:40 left in the game.

Frogs quarterback Casey Pachall, who was 14-of-20 passing for

214 yards with three TDs and an interception, got a fortunate

bounce late in the third quarter when his pass was deflected by

linebacker Shane Melbo and should have probably been intercepted.

Instead, the ball ended up in the hands of Dawson, the former

Mountain West Conference champion sprinter who caught the ball near

midfield and turned it into a 73-yard TD.

”We came out very strong. We ended up kind of hurting ourselves

just kicking a field goal, but it was good to get out early like

that,” Kavanaugh said. ”Then the defense came out and went three

and out. It just shows you how strong we are. Unfortunately, we

needed to do that for the full 60 minutes. I definitely think we

came out and shocked them.”