GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Sacramento State was efficient on offense and the defense recorded five sacks and forced four turnovers as the Hornets won 31-7 at North Dakota on Saturday.
Garrett Safron completed 19-of-24 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and also rushed for two scores and Brandon Kellermann continued his improbable season with a career high 119 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
Defensively, Sacramento State had eight tackles-for-loss and put relentless pressure on UND quarterback Joe Mollberg. Linebacker Todd Davis tallied a team-high eight tackles with a pair of sacks and also added an interception to lead the team. Darnell Sankey, Nehemiah Mitchell and Markell Williams also got to the quarterback during the game. Osagie Odiase and Robert Beale each intercepted for the second week in a row and the team also recovered a muffed punt.
"Our defense played played a great game," Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "They helped put us in great field position and the two sides kind of fed off each other."
The Hornets controlled the first half, nearly doubling North Dakota's total yardage and holding the ball for over 20 minutes. Safron put Sacramento State on the board first with a 5-yard touchdown run around the right edge. The team had a chance to add to that total on the ensuing drive but its fourth-down attempt never began because of a bobbled snap.
That miscue only slowed the team momentarily as Jesse Aguilar began the second quarter with a career-long 41-yard field goal. The Hornet defense continued to do its job with another stop following the field goal before UND pinned Sacramento State at the 1-yard line. The team responded with a 15-play, 99-yard drive which ended when Kellermann scored from 2-yards out. The drive chewed 7:02 off the clock and gave the Hornets a 17-0 lead at the break.
North Dakota used a long drive of its own early in the third quarter for its first points. UND drove 73 yards on 16 plays (many of them screen passes) before Adam Shaugaby rushed for a 1-yard TD.
Sacramento State matched the score with 1:58 left in the period on a 26-yard high lofting pass from Safron to Cole Hikutini for the freshman's second touchdown of the year.
The final score of the game came from Safron who plunged in from just outside of the goal line on a designed sneak.
Overall, the Hornets outgained UND, 378-216. Sacramento State was balanced with 176 rushing yards and 202 passing. The team limited North Dakota to just 49 yards on the ground.
Morris Norrise led the team with nine receptions for 65 yards. DeAndre Carter had a team-leading 71 yards and Hikutini added 51 yards.
Mollberg finished 18-of-39 for 167 yards with three interceptions. Jameer Jackson was the team's leading rusher and receiver with 29 yards on the ground and 60 through the air.
The Hornets will not play again until hosting Montana on Nov. 2 at 1:05 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.
NOTES: Sacramento State's five sacks were a season high…the Hornets played without starters Tyler Worthley, Derek Nielsen and Jordan Robinson in the second half…the team won in the state of North Dakota for the first time in school history (previously 0-2).