With Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh expecting Portland State’s running game to be a focal point of the Vikings’ offense, that’s not how the first few plays worked out.
Portland State started off Saturday’s 37-25 loss at Alex G. Spanos Stadium with a rapid succession of trick plays.
On the first play from scrimmage, Vikings freshman quarterback Kieran McDonagh handed off to running back DJ Adams, and Adams pitched the ball back to McDonagh, who looked deep to Nevin Lewis.
The flea-flicker play ended up being a 43-yard gain to the Cal Poly 32-yard line, and McDonagh finished the drive with a conventional touchdown pass to Justin Monahan on the next play.
The picture-perfect pass floated just beyond the outstretched grasp of Mustangs leaping cornerback Nico Molino for the score.
But Portland State wasn’t finished.
After Cal Poly’s first drive of the game stalled near the Portland State 43-yard line, the Mustangs punted, and the Vikings took over at their own 12.
A flea-flicker almost identical to the one that opened the game led off the second drive, and after it fell incomplete, Portland State head coach Nigel Burton continued digging into his bag of tricks.
McDonagh threw a lateral to Monahan, who caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage and heaved a pass of his own downfield toward Lewis. That, too, fell incomplete.
After Cal Poly seemed more prepared, the gadgets ended for the rest of the first half.
WILLIAMS’ HOT START INTERRUPTED
Cal Poly running back Deonte Williams had another 100-yard game, his second straight and the sixth out of the Mustangs first seven games.
And this week, the first 93 of it came in the first quarter before an apparent ankle injury forced him from the game.
Sparked by a 58-yard run on an inside handoff, Williams finished the half with 103 yards on 10 carries for his seventh career 100-yard game in a Mustangs uniform, but late in the second quarter, Williams went down.
After finishing off a short run, Williams got up limping, favoring his left ankle.
He quickly skipped off the field and immediately lay flat on his back on the sideline.
The injury looked serious with some fearing Williams might be lost for the game. The senior, however, returned to start the second half, and carried four times for 17 yards on a field-goal drive that gave Cal Poly a 20-17 lead to open the third quarter.
FREEMAN SUFFERS GRUSOME INJURY
Williams’ ankle injury was not the most severe injury of the night. It wasn’t even the most worrisome ankle injury.
Cal Poly junior right tackle Mike Freeman had his left foot turn in the wrong direction in what appeared to be either a broken angle or lower leg fracture.
Freeman remained on the ground after blocking on a short third-down conversion run in the first quarter. When he rolled over into a seated position, his right foot pointed up, and his left foot pointed down.
After receiving a huddle’s worth of medical attention, Freeman’s leg was put into a brace and he was able to walk off the field with the help of the training staff.