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November 17, 2012

Football Can't Overcome Miscues in 34-17 Causeway Classic Loss

DAVIS, Calif. — Sophomore quarterback Garrett Safron set the school single-game record for completions and attempts as well as a career high in yards but four Sacramento State turnovers proved too costly in a 34-27 loss at UC Davis in the 59th annual Causeway Classic on Saturday at Aggie Stadium.

The loss ended the Hornets' season at 6-5 overall and dropped the team to 4-4 in Big Sky Conference games. UC Davis finished at 4-7 overall and 3-5 while sending 20th-year head coach Bob Biggs out as a winner in his final collegiate game.

Sacramento State dominated the stat sheet, totaling 480 yards on a school-record 101 plays compared to 327 yards by UCD. The Hornets also held the ball for five minutes longer than the Aggies (32:37-27:33).

Safron created most of the offensive production, completing 37-of-67 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns but was also intercepted twice. His completions broke Tony Corbin's mark of 33 which came in 1995 while the attempts shattered Lyle James total of 54 from 1968. Safron also had a net rushing total of 32 yards despite being sacked a season-high five times.

The first touchdown of the game came from freshman De'jon Coleman who scored from a yard out with 4:55 left in the first quarter. However, the lead was immediately trimmed when Edgar Castaneda's extra point was blocked and returned by Jordan Glass for a defensive two-point conversion to make the score 6-2.

A 31- yard field goal from Brady Stuart pulled the Aggies within one, 6-5, at the end of the first quarter.

The big play of the first half came midway through the second quarter when Morris Norrise was unable to handle a 63-yard punt by Colton Schmidt. The ball bounced off Norrise's shoulder, he was unable to scoop it up at the 5-yard line, and Steven Pitts fell on the ball for a touchdown. A rush from Colton Silveria was good for a two-point conversion and gave UCD a 13-6 lead.

After Stuart crushed a 45-yard field goal to stretch the advantage to 10 (16-6), Safron found DJ Maciel for a 4-yard touchdown pass. On the play, Safron rolled to his right and threw back across the field for the tight end's first touchdown this season.

The Aggies gained the points back just eight seconds later when Jonathan Perkins returned a pooch kick 81 yards for a touchdown up the left sideline.

Sacramento State began the second half with a 16-play drive which chewed up 5:30 before Safron connected with freshman Shane Harrison for an 8-yard touchdown.

UC Davis drove down the field on the ensuing possession but missed a 39-yard field goal attempt to the right. The Hornets then appeared to take the lead when DeAndre Carter made a diving catch on a post route in the back of the end zone. However, Carter was ruled to have dropped the ball while getting up from the ground. Sacramento State came away empty-handed as Castaneda's 40-yard attempt sailed wide left.

The Aggies stretched their lead to 26-20 on a 20-yard field goal from Stuart with 2:08 to play in the third quarter. That score held until Ezekiel Graham scored on a 2-yard run in the opening minutes of the fourth. Graham's touchdown capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive and gave Sacramento State a 27-26 lead.

The Hornets appeared to have stolen momentum when Markell Williams intercepted Randy Wright on the next drive at the Aggie 37 yard line. But one play later, Norrise's pass on an end around was intercepted by Phillip Thrappas in the end zone on a throw intended for Safron.

Davis took advantage of the new life and drove 80 yards resulting in an 8-yard touchdown catch by Taylor Sloat with 10:35 remaining. Linebacker Byron Gruendl's two-point conversion catch put UCD on top by seven.

The Hornet defense gave the offense one final chance with a stop on 4th-and-an inch with 3:20 remaining. Sacramento State drove to the Aggie 45-yard line before Glass intercepted Safron on a fourth-down slant route to seal the victory.

Graham was the Hornets' leading rusher with 12 carries for 108 yards. He also led the team with seven receptions for 81 yards and had 224 all-purpose yards. Knowles and Harrison also caught seven passes for 64 and 60 yards, respectively.

Wright finished 14-of-37 for 181 yards with a touchdown and interception. Colton Silveria tallied a team-high 87 rushing yards while Sloat had seven grabs for 109 yards.

Safety Ryan McMahon led Sacramento State with nine tackles followed by Jeff Badger (seven), Williams (six) and Jaycee Totty (six).

Glass led all players with 12 tackles.

NOTES: Sacramento State committed four turnovers for the second consecutive game and finished the season with a minus-10 in turnover margin…the Aggies converted the four touchdowns into 18 points…the defensive two-point conversion was the first allowed by Sacramento State since 2005…Safron recorded his fourth 300-yard passing game of the season…the 101 total plays broke the previous record of 93 against Montana in 2007…Safron's 22 passing touchdowns this season is the second highest total in school history…he also set the single-season record for completions (246) and completion percentage (/642) and ranks second in attempts (383)…the team will hold its annual awards reception on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Alumni Center. The event is free to the public.

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