ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Portland State knocks off New Mexico.
Montana State stuns Colorado. So much for padding the schedule with
a pair of Division 1-AA opponents from the Big Sky Conference.
Portland State completed an impressive double-header sweep for
the often overlooked league with a 17-6 win over New Mexico
Saturday night. Earlier in Boulder, Montana State pinned a 19-10
defeat on the Big 12 Buffaloes.
"The Big Sky may be a 1-AA conference, but there's some good
players in this league," said Portland State wide receiver Brendan
Ferrigno, whose second half 39-yard touchdown catch gave the
Vikings the lead for good over the Mountain West Conference-member
Sawyer Smith threw two second half touchdown passes and Portland
State took advantage of numerous New Mexico mistakes to pull off
Portland State (1-0) rallied from a 6-0 halftime deficit as
Smith also found Tremayne Kirkland open on a screen play that
Kirkland converted into a 26-yard score early in the fourth quarter
that effectively put New Mexico away. Eric Azorr added a 42-yard
field goal as the Vikings refused to play like underdogs.
"Our guys met the challenge," said Portland State coach Tim
Walsh. "Our guys were up to the challenge of not dying, no matter
Plenty went right for Portland State in the second half. So much
went wrong for New Mexico all night.
New Mexico's offense, under first-year offensive coordinator and
former UCLA head coach Bob Toledo, sputtered all night. The Lobos
had 339 total yards to Portland State's 233, but could muster only
a pair of first half field goals from Kenny Byrd from 29 and 24
The Lobos did their share to help the Vikings pull off the
upset. They had three turnovers and picked up 11 penalties for 93
"The most disappointing thing was the mistakes we made," said
New Mexico coach Rocky Long. "That's an undisciplined team and
that is my job."
The Vikings' comeback started after New Mexico gambled and
failed to convert failed to gain a yard on three plays at midfield
on its first possession of the second half. New Mexico led 6-0 at
the time. Portland State took over and needed just four plays to
take the lead on Smith's 39-yard pass to Ferrigno.
"There's no doubt that was a crucial play in the game," Walsh
said. "They took a big chance and probably tried to win the
"They (defense) made a lot of plays all night, but that one was
big," Sawyer said. "It was a momentum change and gave us great
field position. It made it easier on us. We only had to go 50 yards
and we took advantage of it."
Azorr stretched the lead to 10-6 with his field goal. That drive
was kept alive when New Mexico linebacker Major Mosley was called
for a face mask penalty after the Lobos appeared to have stopped
the Vikings on third-and-four near midfield.
The Lobos still had more mistakes to make.
A muffed punt by New Mexico halfback Paul Baker was recovered by
Kelena Ho'okano at the New Mexico 29 with 13:36 left in the game.
Smith scrambled for 15 yards to the New Mexico 4, but the play was
wiped out by a personal foul on the Vikings. A motion penalty and a
fumble by Smith that he recovered gave Portland State a
second-and-17 from the 29, but Smith delivered the clinching
touchdown pass to Kirkland, who broke a couple of tackles on his
way to the end zone.
"We had that play set up all week long because we knew it was
going to be a big play for us," Sawyer said. "Screens are easy
for me. Tremayne does all the hard work. As soon as I saw him catch
it and saw the blocking, I knew he was going to make it happen."
New Mexico won virtually every statistic, but failed to sustain
drives and could not keep Smith from making the big plays.
"Obviously, if you don't score points, you did not execute
well," Long said. "We knew going into the game we were going to
have trouble blocking."
McKamey completed 21 of 36 passes for 274 yards, but missed open
receivers and was sacked several times.