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Portland State Spring Game Shows Young Players, Improved Defense
The Portland State offense defeated the defense, 44-32, in the annual spring game at Lincoln High School on Saturday. A modified scoring format in which the offense scored by traditional methods and first downs, and the defense scored by forced series stops and turnovers, was used.
The Viking offense ran 67 plays, totaling 327 yards. The offense scored three touchdowns and one field goal, totaling 25 points on actually scoring plays. Defensively, the Vikings forced two fumbles and six three-and-out series. They also had eight tackles for loss, three sacks and four pass breakups.
Quarterback Connor Kavanaugh played just three series in the game at his old high school field. He completed 3-5 passes for 43 yards. He had one 14-yard run as well.
The game’s scoring was opened with a 53-yard field goal by Zach Brown on the first series, led by Kavanaugh.
Justin Engstrom took the bulk of the snaps at quarterback, and completed 11-14 passes for 148 yards. His big throw was a 46-yard strike for touchdown to freshman Roston Tatum in the second half.
The other quarterback to play, Josh Milhollin was 3-13 for 48 yards and one interception. He also completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Justin Monahan. Milhollin was most effective on the run, carrying 10 times for 66 yards. He was the leading ground gainer in the game.
PSU’s run defense, which struggled in 2010, was good on this day. Other than Milhollin, the defense allowed only 22 rushing yards on 25 carries. Willie Griffin had eight carries for 18 yards and Ben Bowen carried seven times for 11 yards.
The offense gained 88 yards on the ground on 35 carries.
There were two big plays on defense. The first was a forced fumble by Major Harris on a sack. Vincent Johnson recovered for the defense. Khalil Bass had an interception at the end of the game as well. A third forced turnover - an interception by DeShawn Shead - was negated by a defensive offsides.
In all, the Vikings completed 17-32 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Monahan led the receiving corps with four catches for 55 yards. Tatum had three grabs for 57 yards.
Linebacker Joel Sisler had seven tackles, including one tackle for loss, to lead the defense. Defensive end Brandon Tobias made three tackles, all for losses, including a sack.
“I thought we saw some good tackling by the defense, and I thought we saw some big plays, like we’ve had (in practice) this spring,” said Viking Coach Nigel Burton. “The biggest thing was, we’ve got to improve run-defense-wise, and that’s what we have done this spring and we saw it today.”
Burton lauded his defensive effort throughout the spring.
“The biggest question for me was defensive leadership and I think that is starting to get addressed,” Burton said, singling out DeShawn Shead, Ryan Rau and Ian Sluss as players who have been leaders. “I really like the way the defense stepped up this spring, took pride and is really getting after it. We’ve gotten better at causing takeaways and doing the things in the fall we need to do to get better.
“We feel like right now we need to go about six or seven deep at the linebacker spot and six or seven deep at the defensive line spot. I feel like we can go pretty deep in the secondary as well.”
Burton also noted some of his young offensive players who should produce big things in the future.
“We’ve seen some great things from Roston Tatum in terms of his ability to make big plays. In young guys, you are always looking for consistency.”
“Josh Milhollin, you can see what we see. We’ve got to get him not to come out like that young colt like he did (and struggle with the pass).”
Kavanaugh and Engstrom were impressive at quarterback. After a slow start, Milhollin also played well. Hubel, a known quantity as a passer, sat out to protect his surgically repaired right shoulder. Said Burton: “Each one of them has something they can add. Connor is still that field general and he can sling it. Milhollin is special when he tucks and runs like we do in the Pistol. When he tucks and runs its scary.”
Referring to Engstrom, Burton said, “He threw the ball well today. So, it will be interesting (competition) this fall.”
Portland State will begin fall camp in early August. The Vikings have a six-game home schedule beginning with the opener against Southern Oregon at Jeld-Wen Field on Sept. 3.
A handful of Viking starters did not play in the spring game due to minor injuries or to avoid injury.
Rushing: Josh Milhollin 10-66, Willie Griffin 8-18-1, Ben Bowen, 7-11, Julian Cruell 3-4, Justin Lilley 3-3
Passing: Justin Engstrom 11-14-0-148-1, Josh Milhollin 3-13-1-48-1, Connor Kavanaugh 3-5-0-43-0
Receiving: Justin Monahan 4-55-1, Roston Tatum 3-57-1, AJ Powell 2-29, Antwun Baker 2-14, Kalua Noa 2-13, Keitrell Anderson 1-28, Kyle McMillin 1-20, Gage Loftin 1-16, Nevin Lewis 1-7
Tackles Leaders: Joel Sisler 7 (TFL), Ryan Rau 4, Aaron Kincy 4, Shane Melbo 4 (TFL), Corey Crowder 4 (TFL), Anthony Davis 4, Brandon Tobias 3 (3TFL, SK), Major Harris 3 (TFL, SK, FF), Khalil Bass 2 (TFL, SK, INT)
First Half Scoring, O-D points
Offense-First Down, 1-0
Offense-First Down, 2-0
Offense-Zach Brown 53 FG, 5-0
Defense-3 and out, 5-3
Offense-First Down, 6-3
Offense-First Down, 7-3
Offense-First Down, 8-3
Offense-First Down, 9-3
Offense-First Down, 10-3
Offense-Willie Griffin 2 yard run (Zach Brown kick), 17-3
Offense-First Down, 18-3
Second Half Scoring
Offense-First Down, 19-13
Offense-First Down, 20-13
Offense-First Down, 21-17
Offense-First Down, 22-17
Offense-Roston Tatum 46 yard pass from Justin Engstrom (Kavanaugh pass to McMillin),30-17
Offense-First Down, 31-17
Offense-First Down, 32-17
Offense-Justin Monahan 12 yard pass from Josh Milhollin (Fernandez kick), 39-17
Offense-First Down, 40-17
Offense-First Down, 41-17
Defense-Forced fumble recovery, 41-23
Offense-First Down, 42-26
Offense-First Down, 43-26
Offense-First Down, 44-26
Defense-Khalil Bass Interception, 44-32
SPRING GAME SCORING FORMAT
Offense: Traditional Scoring and 1 point for each first down
Defense: Defensive stop = 1 point
Three and out = 3 points
Takeaway = 6 points
Blocked field goal or extra point = 6 points
Missed field goal or extra point = 1 point
Touchdown return = six points
By Portland State University Media Relations