PSU falls to Northern Iowa in second round
PORTLAND — Quarterback Aaron Bailey rushed for 200 yards, including touchdowns from 61 and 69 yards, and Northern Iowa beat the Portland State Vikings 29-17 in a second-round FCS playoff game on Saturday night.
Tyvis Smith rushed for 207 yards and two more scores in a steady rain for the Panthers' seventh straight victory.
Northern Iowa (9-4) will go on to face four-time FCS champion North Dakota State in the quarterfinals. The Bison defeated Montana 37-6 earlier in the day, scoring on two interception returns and a 100-yard kickoff return.
Portland State (9-3), which had a first-round bye as the sixth seed, could not get its distinctive offense going and fell behind 16-3 after the first half.
Alex Kuresa threw for 105 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings, who were making the program's second trip to the playoffs. Going in, Portland State was ranked No. 5 in the STATS Top 25, while the Panthers came in at No. 15.
Northern Iowa, which went 5-2 against ranked opponents this season and finished 5-3 in the powerful Missouri Valley Conference, beat Eastern Illinois 53-17 in the first round of the playoffs.
The Panthers' opening drive ended unsuccessfully when Michael Schemadeke missed a 30-yard field goal attempt. But the Panthers jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Tyvis Smith's 3-yard run.
Portland State's touted scoring offense, ranked 12th in the FCS, struggled in the first half. The Vikings' lone points came on Jonathan Gonzales' 32-yard field goal.
Northern Iowa jumped on a Portland State fumble for the turnover, and Bailey capitalized on the ensuing drive with a 61-yard keeper to extend the Panthers' lead. Schemadeke added a 44-yard field goal at the close of the first half to give Northern Iowa a 16-3 lead.
Northern Iowa's D'Shawn Dexter was ejected in the third quarter for targeting on a drive that ended with Alex Kuresa's 16-yard touchdown pass to Chase Loftin.
After Bailey's 69-yard TD run came with 14:33 left in the game, David Jones rushed for a 9-yard score and Portland State pulled within 23-17.
But any momentum for the Vikings was snuffed with Smith's 59-yard touchdown run with 8:02 left.
The loss ended the Vikings' thrilling turnaround season under first-year coach Bruce Barnum. The team's success even inspired the nickname "Barny Ball."
After finishing 3-9 last year, Portland State opened the season with a 24-17 upset win over Washington State in Pullman, the program's first win over a Pac-12 team. The Vikings earned a $525,000 paycheck afterward.
The Vikings also routed upper-division North Texas 66-7, setting a record for the biggest FCS win over an FBS team. It was the first time Portland State had defeated two FBS teams in the same season.
The Vikings' nine wins were the most in school history. Portland State finished 6-2 in the Big Sky.
The two teams had never met.