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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

This Week in the Big Sky

October 17, 1998

Portland State at Montana State

Montana State upset Weber State, 10-7, last week and moved up to No. 18 in one poll. The Bobcats, off to their best start since opening 7-0 in 1978 under Sonny Lubick, managed only 124 yards against Weber State but today face the Big Sky Conference's poorest defense. Portland State is allowing 442.6 yards per game and is particularly weak against the run (223.2 yards per game). Montana State's Lathian Tyler and Eric Kinnaman are averaging a combined 109 yards rushing. Portland State gained 714 yards in a 58-31 victory over Cal State Sacramento last week--74 yards shy of the school record. Art Williams accounted for 208 yards receiving and four touchdowns, and was selected Big Sky offensive player of the week. Sophomore Jimmy Blanchard has thrown touchdown passes in seven consecutive games. Montana State is 5-0 against the Vikings at Bozeman. The teams have split the last six meetings.

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Northern Arizona at Montana

Northern Arizona quarterback Travis Brown is back, but is Montana's Brian Ah Yat ready? Ah Yat's availability remains a mystery, with Montana officials only saying that he is practicing. That was the report last week leading to Montana's 21-7 loss at Cal State Northridge, a game Ah Yat missed because of a back injury suffered the previous week against Portland State. Montana, scratching for survival in the conference race, could use Ah Yat. He leads the Big Sky and ranks fourth in Division I-AA in offense at 295.6 yards per game. Brown returned last week after sitting out three games because of an injured elbow and led the Lumberjacks over Idaho State, 30-7, passing for 95 yards and one touchdown. Northern Arizona Coach Jerome Souers returns to Montana, where he was defensive coordinator the last eight years.

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Eastern Washington at Idaho State

As if Idaho State didn't have enough problems, here comes Eastern Washington's Bashir Levingston, who last week tied a Big Sky record with his third punt return for a touchdown in the Eagles' 42-19 nonconference victory over Western Washington. His return against the Vikings covered 83 yards. Levingston, the Big Sky's special teams player of the week, leads I-AA players at 31 yards per return. Idaho State, headed for its third consecutive losing season, ranks last in the Big Sky in offense at 229.8 yards per game and second to last in defense at 431.8 yards per outing. The Bengals lost at Northern Arizona, 30-7, last week and have scored fewer than 10 points in every loss.

Nonconference

Weber State at Boise State

Tough defense and a Canadian import are carrying Weber State, ranked No. 13 in both I-AA polls. Morgan Welch, a junior from Edmonton, had 211 yards rushing last week in Weber State's 10-7 upset loss to Montana State. He leads I-AA players with 1,160 yards rushing and needs 219 yards to surpass Lee White's school season record of 1,378 yards set in 1967. The Wildcats rank No. 2 in I-AA in defense, allowing 206.8 yards per game. Montana State's touchdown against Weber State came on a 34-yard interception return 54 seconds into the game. Boise State is coming off a 21-13 loss to North Texas in the Big West opener for both teams. Weber State, which is 2-12 at Bronco Stadium, is the third Big Sky team to play at Boise State this season. The Broncos defeated Cal State Northridge, 26-13, on Sept. 5 and Portland State, 42-24, on Sept. 19.

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