Portland State entered Saturday’s Big Sky Conference game against visiting UC Davis with one of the most generous defenses in the country.
The Vikings ranked 112th among the 121 Football Championship Subdivision schools in scoring defense at 38.5 points per game and 117th in total yardage allowed at 542.8.
But in beating the Aggies 23-14, Portland State looked like one of the best defensive teams around.
UC Davis (1-4, 0-2) was forced to punt eight times in its 13 possessions, fumbled on its first possession and mustered only two drives of 50 yards or more in finishing with 240 yards.
The Aggies’ London Lacy passed for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but UC Davis ran for only 44 yards on 21 carries.
Vikings quarterback Kieran McDonagh scored on runs of 6 and 3 yards to cap long drives, and Jonathan Gonzales made a 53-yard field goal en route to a 17-0 first-half lead for the Vikings (2-3, 1-0).
UC Davis came back in the third quarter. Patrick Wells’ interception set up Lacy’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Keelan Doss. The Aggies closed to 17-14 with 46 seconds left in the quarter on Lacy’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Derek Baljeu. They went 62 yards in six plays, their best drive of the egame.
But that would be it for UC Davis offensively. The Aggies had just one first down on their last three possessions, and Portland State pulled away on Gonzales’ field goals of 30 and 19 yards.
Linebacker Steven Pitts led the UC Davis defense with 11 tackles, and Linebacker Russell Reeder had 10.
The Aggies have lost four straight to Portland State during the tenure of Vikings coach Nigel Burton, a former Jesuit High School standout.