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First Spring Scrimmage Reveals PSU Strengths
The Portland State football team held its first live scrimmage of spring ball Monday afternoon, and both offense and defense exchanged blows in the contest. The 60-play scrimmage was highlighted by three offensive touchdowns through the air and an interception and three sacks by the defense.
The defense set the tone in the first series, sending the offense packing after a three and out series that ended with an interception. Starting at the offenses 30-yard line, senior quarterback Connor Kavanaugh, taking snaps with the Vikings No. 1’s, threw a laser pass to his left. Junior college transfer Aaron Kincy was able to reach a hand in on the receiver, tipping the ball in the air, and left it hanging in the air like low-hanging fruit for senior Ryan Rau to collect.
Following the pick by Rau, the defense continued to shut down the offense and did not allow the offense to cross the 50-yard line. Head Coach Nigel Burton then changed things up a little bit, spotting the ball at the defenses 25-yard line.
From there it didn’t take very long, one play, for the offense to strike gold. Kavanaugh connected with senior receiver Justin Monahan on a 25 yard touchdown pass at the front corner of the end zone. Three series later, Monahan continued to make big plays, catching three balls for 35 yards, including a 20 yard reception that was snagged after a botched deflection by junior Michael Williams.
Scoring touchdowns for the offense was junior receiver Nevin Lewis and tight end Tree Thomas, a converted basketball player for the Vikings. Thomas was tossed a pop-fly from senior Justin Engstrom and was able to catch it before anyone else could. Lewis received his touchdown from Kavanaugh, who finished with a completion percentage of 50 percent, threw two touchdowns and orchestrated a 70 drive on Lewis’ TD.
On the ground the Vikings defense was impregnable as they stuffed the Vikings offensive run game and held the Big Sky’s top-rushing team to -3 yards on 17 attempts. The Vikings currently without the services of first team All-Big Sky running back Cory McCaffrey, senior, who has been donning the yellow jersey, indicating no contact.
Leading the defenses charge into the backfield was redshirt junior Ian Sluss, a junior transfer from Vista, Calif., who led the team with three tackles for loss in the scrimmage for -5 yards. Most impressively, they call came on the same drive.
Also coming up with defensive pressure was sophomore Julious Moore, who accounted for one tackle for loss on the run and one shoe-string sack on Kavanaugh. Senior defensive end Carl Sommer also accounted for a sack as redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Milhollin rolled right into Sommer on a play action pass.
Senior quarterback Justin Engstrom ran the No. 2 offense during the scrimmage, and finished with one touchdown on Thomas’ catch. Engstrom primarily ran the read option while in control of the offense, passing the ball only nine times to Kavanaugh’s 23 attempts.
Viking junior Joey Esposito was featured on KGW Newschannel 8 Tuesday night and in Wednesday’s Oregonian for his bout with cancer and his miraculous return to the Vikings.
By Portland State University Sports Information