Heading into the Big Sky season, the sky had seemed the limit for Portland State’s offense.
Thursday, however, the opponent had a rocket booster in its arsenal.
Down 14 points at halftime, Cal Poly shot past Portland State 38-34 as conference play kicked off at Jeld-Wen Field.
Led by quarterback Kieran McDonagh, a Skyview grad, Portland State entered Thursday averaging 612 yards per game. The Vikings lone nonconference loss saw them push Pac-12 opponent Cal to the wire before falling 37-30.
But No. 18-ranked Cal Poly offered a sign of the rigors awaiting Portland State in the Big Sky, which has five teams in the top 25 of the FCS national rankings.
McDonagh threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Victor Dean. But Portland State couldn’t catch up to Cal Poly after the Mustangs scored 24 unanswered points to start the second half.
The Vikings amassed 487 yards Thursday, only to be outdone by the Mustangs, which gained 520.
Cal Poly also kept Portland State’s offense from exploding by allowing the Vikings offense to have the ball for only 23 minutes.
The Mustangs took a 31-21 lead early in the fourth quarter when Chris Brown found Akaninyene Umoh wide open over the middle for a 54-yard touchdown pass.
McDonagh struck back on the next play from scrimmage. His 57-yard touchdown pass to Dean was capped by the receiver tiptoeing down the sideline.
Portland State’s defense appeared to keep the Vikings within a touchdown, forcing a Cal Poly field goal with 7:22 remaining. But a personal foul penalty on the kick kept the drive alive, and the Mustangs scored three plays later to go ahead 38-28.
Portland State pulled within 38-34 with 1:44 remaining. McDonagh capped a nine-play, 56-yard drive with a 11-yard touchdown pass to Dean.
Portland State’s subsequent onside kick attempt failed.