Portland State's Joe Rubin Rushes Past Northern Colorado, 41-17
PORTLAND, Ore. - The University of Northern Colorado simply could not stop Portland State running back Joe Rubin and the Vikings rode his 356 rushing yards on a Vikings' school record 47 carries and five touchdowns to a 41-17 win over the Bears at PGE Park on Saturday night.
In a matchup that will be a Big Sky Conference next season, the Vikings took advantage of two crucial third quarter turnovers by the Bears. Portland State improved to 3-1 on the season, while Northern Colorado dropped to 2-2 on the year.
The Vikings wasted little time getting into the scoring column as the home squad marched 74 yards in only seven plays to go up 7-0 with 8:45 left in the first quarter. Portland State running back Joe Rubin scored on a nine-yard run after rushing for 35 yards on three carries in the opening series of the game for the Vikings.
Rubin continued his early game dominance with a 32-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds left in the first quarter. Rubin's second score gave the Vikings a 14-0 advantage.
Northern Colorado broke into the scoring column with 9:50 to go in the second quarter when redshirt freshman quarterback T.J. Swanson found sophomore wide receiver Cory Sleeth for a seven-yard touchdown.
Swanson entered the contest midway through the Bears' drive when starting quarterback Nick Hager had to leave the game with an injured right shoulder. Junior running back Andre Wilson's 35-yard run set up the Bears' first score of the game.
The Bears trimmed the lead to four points at 14-10 on a 25-yard field goal from senior Justin Zaitz with 13 seconds left in the half. The Bears drove 82 yards on eight plays in 3:07 to cut into the Vikings' advantage. Zaitz's three-pointer was his fifth field goal of the season and he has not missed a kick this season.
PSU's Dominic Dixon intercepted a Swanson pass on the Bears' first possession of the second half. Swanson's pass was intended for junior wideout Zac Carlson, but the pass was deflected and Dixon returned the pick 30 yards to the Bears' 18 yard line.
Rubin then cashed in his third touchdown of the game on an eight-yard score with 10:19 remaining in the third quarter to give the Vikings a 21-10 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bears' redshirt freshman Patrick Ealy fumbled the ball right back to the Vikings. Ealy appeared to have his forward progress stopped on the play, but the officials ruled it a fumble and the Vikings took advantage of the Bears' miscue.
The Vikings wasted little time as they used a two-play scoring drive of 26 total yards. Senior Allen Kennett covered the final two yards for a touchdown to give the Vikings a commanding 28-10 lead with 9:43 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bears bounced right back after the two turnovers and drove 80 yards in five plays to cut the lead to 28-17 on a one-yard score from sophomore fullback Kacie Wolfe with 7:52 left in the third quarter. The key play on the drive was a 54-yard pass reception from junior wideout Andy Birkel.
Senior Buck Buchanan Award candidate Reed Doughty came up huge on a fourth-and-one situation with just under 12 minutes to play in the game. Doughty came up from his safety spot and drilled PSU's Shaun Bodiford for a three-yard loss to give the Bears possession of the football at the Bears' 27-yard line. But the Bears' offense stalled just past mid-field and the Vikings then drove the ball to the endzone to dash any upset hopes for the Bears.
Rubin added his fourth touchdown of the game on a two-yard run at the 5:13 mark of the third quarter to give the Vikings a commanding 35-17 lead.
Rubin then put the finishing touches on the scoring in the game with a one-yard touchdown run with 1:48 to go in the game. It was Rubin's fifth touchdown on the day.
Wilson led the Bears' rushing attack with his fourth straight 100+ rushing game. Wilson rushed for 116 yards. Wilson now has nine career 100+ rushing games. He also went over the 2,000 yard in his Northern Colorado career and has rushed for 2,032 yards.
Swanson finished the game with 173 yards passing on 9-of-17 attempts. Swanson threw one touchdown and was intercepted once. Sleeth caught a team-high four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Hager finished the game with 15 yards passing on 2-of-8 attempts and did not return to the contest after suffering his injury early in the second quarter.
Northern Colorado will open the Great West Football Conference season next week at home against Cal Poly at 2 p.m. Cal Poly is the defending league champion and defeated the Bears, 31-0, in San Luis Obispo, Calif., last season. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain (Comcast Cable Channel 37 in Greeley) and also on the Bears Radio Network.
NOTES: Portland State tallied 141 total yards in the first quarter, while the Bears managed only 32 total yards in the first stanza ... PSU's Joe Rubin rushed for 91 yards on only nine carries in the first quarter ... Rubin tallied 182 rushing yards in the first half on 21 total carries ... Northern Colorado punter Rafael Mendoza booted a career-best 53 yard punt in the first quarter ... the game marked the Bears' third contest against the Vikings ... Portland State won the last meeting between the two squads back in the 1991 NCAA Division II playoffs, 28-24 ... Northern Colorado scored a 21-20 win over PSU in 1979 in the squads' only meeting in Greeley.