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October 13, 2012

Football off to Best Start in Two Decades Following Win Over Weber State

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A strong defensive effort led Sacramento State to a 19-14 Homecoming victory over Weber State on Saturday in front of 12,106 fans at Hornet Stadium.

The Hornets moved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Big Sky Conference play — matching the best start since the 1992 squad also opened 5-2. Weber State dropped to 0-6 overall and 0-4 in league games.

Both teams struggled to find any offensive rhythm during the game, combining for 547 yards of total offense. The Hornets produced a season-low 310 yards on 64 plays while holding the Wildcats to 237 yards on 77 plays (3.08 yards per play).

After neither team scored in the first quarter, WSU posted the first points of the game when C.J. Tuckett jumped over the pile from 1-yard out early in the second quarter.

Sacramento State tied the game, 7-7, in the final minute of the first half when Ezekiel Graham caught a 13-yard touchdown from Garrett Safron on a wheel route down the left sideline. The drive appeared to stall when Safron was sacked on 3rd-and-13 but linebacker Obi Owoh was flagged for continuing to play after his helmet was dislodged, giving the Hornets an automatic first down.

Weber State opened the second half with a surprise onside kick which was recovered by the Wildcats. However, the Sacramento State held its ground as Shaun McClain's 47-yard field goal attempt missed wide right.

The Hornets turned to their own special teams trick play midway through the quarter when backup quarterback Mason Magleby rolled to his right and hit a rugby-style punt 52 yards which was downed at the 1-yard line. The defense responded with a three-and-out which led to a safety after the ball was snapped over the punter's head out of the back of the end zone.

Sophomore DeAndre Carter returned the ensuing free kick 66 yards to the WSU 12-yard line where Sacramento State settled for a 22-yard field goal from Edgar Castaneda to make the score 12-7 at the end of three quarters.

The fourth quarter opened with three consecutive turnovers. Safron was stripped on a rush at the Hornet 32-yard line but Sacramento State immediately intercepted Hoke as Osagie Odiase picked off his third pass of the year. The Hornets drove to the Weber State 33 but tight end T.J. Knowles was stripped by Chris Wheeler ending the scoring opportunity.

After another three-and-out, Knowles found redemption as he hauled in a 25-yard touchdown with 7:12 to play in the game.

Weber State matched the score with a 17-yard touchdown from Hoke to Erik Walker with 3:59 to play. The play came on 4th-and-3 and capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive.

Sacramento State closed out the contest with a 9-play drive which ate up the remainder of the time. During the drive, freshman De'Jon Coleman rushed for 29 of his team high 74 yards. Safron also hit Morris Norrise for a 17-yard gain on 3rd-and-6 early in the possession.

Three Hornets tallied double-digit tackles led by linebackers Todd Davis and Jeff Badger who each had 11 stops. Safety Ryan McMahon added 10 while defensive backs Odiase and Williams each had eight. Sacramento State tallied a season-high five sacks with two coming from junior defensive end Trent Eskew. Davis, Williams and defensive end Ben Cowger each had one.

Safron was 21-of-26 for 182 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 25 yards. Graham was led the team with seven receptions while Norrise had a team-best 58 yards.

The Hornets will begin a three-game stretch against ranked opponents when they travel to Eastern Washington on Saturday, Oct. 20. The game will kick off at 4:05 p.m.

NOTES:
• Sacramento State scored every possible point combination (extra point, safety, field goal and touchdown).
• The safety was the first since recovering a fumble in the end zone against Montana on Oct. 24, 2009.
• Punter Justin Weldon completed an 11-yard pass to Shane Harrison on a fake punt in the fourth quarter.
• The Hornets have outscored their opponents 59-21 in the second half of the last three games.

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