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FOOTBALL BEGINS BIG SKY PLAY AT IDAHO STATE ON SATURDAY

FOOTBALL BEGINS BIG SKY PLAY AT IDAHO STATE ON SATURDAY

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A BRIEF PREVIEW
Off to its best start in 15 years, the Sacramento State football team will enter Big Sky Conference action this Saturday when it plays at Idaho State. The game against the Bengals will be the conference opener for both teams and will begin at 1:05 p.m. PDT from Pocatello, Idaho.

There will be multiple ways to follow this week's game. Hornet fans can tune in to KTKZ 1380 AM (The Answer) to hear the radio call of Jason Ross, Steve McElroy and Danny Sullivan. Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com and on the iHeart Radio application for mobile devices.

This week's game will also be broadcast on the internet via WatchBigSky.com. The service is free of charge but fans need to register prior to kickoff. Fans can also download the WatchBigSky.com app to view the games on their iOS devices.

The Hornets enter the game with a 3-1 overall record following a 59-14 win over Menlo on Sept. 20. The start is the best for the team since the 1999 squad also opened 3-1. The greatest start in school history came in 1991 where the team began 6-0.

Against Menlo, eight different players scored touchdowns and the team forced five turnovers. Jordan Robinson rushed for 114 yards and Darnell Sankey recorded 17 tackles to lead the team.

Idaho State is 1-2 overall and coming off a bye week. The Bengals have yet to face an FCS opponent as they began the year with a 56-14 loss at Utah and a 40-20 defeat at Utah State. The team then hosted Chadron State and was able to hold for a 39-34 victory. In that game, ISU built a 39-13 lead after three quarters but saw Chadron State score 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Senior Justin Arias returns at quarterback for Idaho State and is averaging 260.7 yards per game with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Xavier Finney is the leading rusher with 126.3 yards per game and three TDs.

THE COACHES
Jody Sears is in his first season as the head coach at Sacramento State. Sears was previously the head coach at Weber State from 2012-13 and has been the defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington and Washington State.

Idaho State is coached by Mike Kramer who is in his fourth season. With the Bengals, Kramer has posted a 7-30 overall record. Prior to taking the job at Idaho State, Kramer was the head coach at Eastern Washington and Montana State in the Big Sky.

THE SERIES
Sacramento State leads the all-time series, 11-6. The Hornets have won four in a row against the Bengals and six of the last seven. Sacramento State is 4-5 against ISU in Holt Arena.

QUICK HITTERS
• Sacramento State is 4-14 all-time in Big Sky openers. The team's wins have come against Idaho State (2001, 2003) and Weber State (2010, 2013).
• With a victory, Jody Sears will join John Baker (1957) as the only coaches in Hornet history to begin their career 3-1.
OUT OF THE GATES
• Sacramento State has been playing football since 1954 but has only opened the year winning three of its first for games 15 times. Below is a list of each of those teams and where they finished the season.

Year    Head Coach    Start    Finish
1957    John Baker    3-1    5-4
1960    John Baker    3-1    5-5
1963    Ray Clemons    3-1    5-3-1
1964    Ray Clemons    8-1    8-2-1
1968    Ray Clemons    3-1    8-3
1969    Ray Clemons    5-1    8-2
1975    Ray Clemons    3-1    5-5
1981    Bob Mattos    4-1    5-6
1982    Bob Mattos    8-1    8-3
1988    Bob Mattos    6-1    10-3*
1989    Bob Mattos    4-1    5-4
1991    Bob Mattos    6-0    8-2
1991    Bob Mattos    5-1    7-3
1994    Mike Clemons    3-1    5-5
1999    John Volek    3-1    6-5
* Reached NCAA Div. II semifinals

SCORING EVERY WHICH WAY
• Sacramento State enters this week tied for eighth in the FCS with 41.0 points per game. That total was aided this past week as the team posted 59 points against Menlo. Yale, which scored 54 points in its lone game of the year, is the current FCS leader. Eastern Washington has averaged 50.3 points in four games to rank second.
• The 59 points scored by the Hornets rank ninth in school single-game history and were the most in regulation since scoring 61 against Montana State on Oct. 2, 2010.
• Against Menlo, eight different Hornets scored a touchdown and Brad Cornish also provided 11 points with a field goal and eight PATs.
• The team scored five rushing touchdowns comprised of Jordan Robinson (23 yards), Darnell Sankey (1), De'Jon Coleman (21), Demetrius Warren (2) and Brandon Kellermann (7). Sankey's score was the first offensive touchdown scored by the linebacker during his career.
• Redshirt freshman tight end Jonathan Bade caught a 6-yard TD pass in the second quarter for his first career reception. Conversely, senior DeAndre Carter grabbed a 13-yard pass for his 21st career TD.
• True freshman Isiah Hennie added an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

TAKE IT AWAY
• The Hornet defense is plus-7 in turnover margin and tied for the seventh best in FCS this season. The team helped its cause against Menlo with four interceptions and a fumble recovery.
• The quartet of Joshua Armstrong, Nick Crouch, Mike Sellers and Austin Clark each recorded their first career interceptions during the game. Armstrong's pick came during the opening drive of the game while Clark capped the contest with an interception on the final play.
• For the third consecutive game, Sacramento State was also able to recover a muffed punt. Senior Randey Peterson picked up the mishandled kick in the fourth quarter which led to a touchdown.
• On the season, the Hornets have turned their 11 takeaways into 38 points. The opponents have converted four Sacramento State turnovers into 14 points. The team's lone turnover against Menlo was a fumble by Jordan Robinson. Had Sacramento State been turnover free, it would've marked the first time since 2000 that the team had back-to-back games without a giveaway.

ROBINSON POSTS DOUBLE TRIPLE
• Jordan Robinson recorded his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game when he tallied 114 yards against Menlo. Robinson's effort followed a 130-yard performance against Weber State. The sophomore had never rushed for over 100 yards prior to this season.
• Against Menlo, Robinson averaged 11.4 yards per carry on his 10 carries. This season, he's averaging 7.3 yards per carry while leading the team with 366 rushing yards on 49 carries. Robinson also paces the team with three rushing touchdowns.
• The last Hornet to rush for over 100-yards in consecutive games was Ezekiel Graham against North Dakota (140) and at Idaho State (158) in September of 2012. Bryan Hilliard is the last Sacramento State to record three consecutive 100-yard games. Hilliard crossed the plateau in four straight games from Sept. 11-Oct. 23 of 2010.

NOT EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT
• The one major flaw for the team against Menlo was penalties. The Hornets were flagged a season high 15 times for 128 yards. The Oaks were called for 12 penalties for 127 yards. Sacramento State's opponent has been called for 10-plus penalties in the last three games.

SANKEY AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS
• Linebacker Darnell Sankey recorded his fourth consecutive game with at least 10 tackles and is now tied for second in the FCS in tackles per game. Sankey is averaging 13.8 tackles per game and has drawn even with Chinedu Ahanonu of Southern Utah for the Big Sky lead. The FCS is led by Troy Donahue of Dartmouth who had 14 tackles in his lone game.
• Against Menlo, Sankey had a career high 17 total tackles. The junior also had a tackle-for-loss and scored a 1-yard touchdown as a fullback on offense.
• Sankey had 14 against Weber State to tie his career high. In the game, the San Jose, Calif., native also had 1.5 tackles-for-loss, a pass breakup and quarterback hurry.
• The San Jose, Calif., native leads the team with 55 total tackles and has forced two fumbles. He's also currently second with 3.0 tackles-for-loss.
• Sankey is the latest in a long list of Hornet linebackers who have had national success. Most recently, Todd Davis was an All-American at the position last season and finished fifth with 10.9 tackles per game. Ryland Wickman, Anthony Daisley, Matt Logue, Cyrus Mulitalo and Mike Brannon also earned All-America recognition at the position.
• Last season, Sankey ranked third on the team with 65 total tackles and led the squad with 9.5 TFLs and six sacks.
• Sankey was originally a linebacker for the Hornets out of high school but shifted to defensive end during his freshman year.

CAPITALIZING ON A SECOND CHANCE
• A week after being named the FCS and Big Sky Special Team Player of the Week, Brad Cornish appeared to have his streak of five consecutive made field goals come to an end when he missed to the right on a 39-yard attempt. Instead, Menlo was called for being offsides and Cornish banged home his next attempt from 34 yards.
• Along with his eight extra points, Cornish is now the team leader with 34 points on the year. The junior is 6-for-7 on field goals and 20-of-21 on extra points.
• Against WSU, the junior set the Sacramento State single-game record with five field goals. He also became the first Hornet to make four field goals of at least 40 yards in game. He began with a career-long 48-yarder in the first quarter and added another from 43. In the third quarter he was good from 45 yards before closing the game with makes from 32 and 40 yards.
• To put Cornish's effort into perspective, Sacramento State had made just three field goals of 40-plus yards in the last three seasons (2011-13) combined.

O-LINE POSTS SHUTOUT
• Sacramento State played 10 offensive linemen in the victory over Menlo and the group combined to hold the Oaks without a sack.
• The Hornets have allowed just one sack in the last two games despite 69 pass attempts.

CARTER CLIMBS THE CHARTS
• Senior DeAndre Carter was the lone member of the Hornets to earn preseason all-Big Sky honors in a vote of the league's media. Carter was also a preseason All-American by several publications.
• Last season, the Fremont, Calif., native exploded for 934 yards and a school-record tying 14 receiving touchdowns in 11 games. He missed the final game of the after spraining his ankle at Portland State.
• He returned to the end zone twice at Incarnate Word to move into sole possession of second place on the Sacramento State career list. Carter's first TD came on a 33-yard pass up the middle of the field. His second was a 24-yard grab in the front right corner of the end zone where he had to out muscle the defender.
• Carter has caught a touchdown in 10 of his last 13 games and finished 2013 tied for fourth in the FCS with 14.
• Carter did not catch a touchdown pass as a freshman in 2011 where he had 11 receptions for 161 yards. As a sophomore, he got off to a great start, scoring touchdowns in each of the first four games. However, he did not find the end zone for the remainder of the season, finishing with 32 catches for 344 yards.

Career Receiving Yards    Total    Needs
T3. Mike Carter, 1968-69    1,834    188
T3. Lamont Webb, 1997-2000    1,834    188
5. Tony Washington, 2007-08    1,693    47
6. Scott Towne, 19997-2000    1,646    ---
    DeAndre Carter, 2011-pres.    1,646    ---

Career Receiving Touchdowns    Total    Needs
1. Fred Amey, 2001-04    27    6
2. DeAndre Carter, 2011-pres.    21    ---

SAFRON HONORS CONTINUE
• After earning second team all-Big Sky honors last season, senior Garrett Safron found himself on nearly every preseason watch list and all-conference team heading into 2014.
• Last season, Safron rewrote the school single season record book with 294 completions, 460 attempts, 3,289 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns. He also rushed for a team best 492 yards and seven touchdowns and set the single season mark with 3,781 yard of total offense. Following the year, he was named the team's offensive MVP and became the first Hornet QB to be named first or second team all-Big Sky.
• Safron lived up to the preseason hype as he completed 17-of-25 passes for 251 yards and five touchdowns with an interception at UIW. He has now thrown four or more touchdowns in three of the last five games and has six career 4+ TD games.
• Last year, Safron had three of the most memorable single game efforts as he threw a  Big Sky record seven touchdowns against Southern Oregon. Midway through the year he completed 41 passes against Montana to take down the school mark and later added a 554-yard effort at Portland State to also set the Hornet record.
• The performance at Portland State helped the team to a 43-42 victory and was his fourth 300-yard game of the year. His seven career 300-yard games has him tied with Ryan Leadingham for the most in Sacramento State history.
• The Santa Monica, Calif., native has started every game over the past two seasons and is now either first or second in every career passing record at Sacramento State.

• Below is where he ranks in school history:

Career Passing Yards    Total    Needs
1. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04    8,376    1,348
2. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres.    7,028    ---

Career Passing Touchdowns    Total    Needs
1. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres.    61    ---
2. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04    50    ---

Career Passing Attempts    Total    Needs
1. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04    1,191    174
2. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres.    1,017    ---

Career Passing Completions    Total    Needs
1. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04    658    29
2. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres.    629    ---

HE'S GOING THE DISTANCE
• Safron has also proved effective with his legs in the early season. His 73-yard touchdown run at Cal was a career long and the longest by a Hornet since Ryan Mole went 87 yards against Montana State in 2004. He added a 70-yard touchdown run against Weber State.
• Over his four years, Safron has now rushed for 1,396 yards and 14 touchdowns. Those marks have helped him set nearly all the quarterback rushing marks at Sacramento State. Below is where he ranks on the overall career list:

Career Rushing Yards    Total    Needs
9. George Sula, 1974-75    1,541    145
10. Pedro Lewis, 1991-93    1,487    91
11. Tyronne Gross, 2002-04    1,448    52
12. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres.    1,396    ---

Career Rushing Touchdowns    Total    Needs
T6. Tyronne Gross, 2002-04    16    2
T6. Garrett White, 1998-2002    16    2
T8. Ricky Ray (QB), 1999-2000    15    1
T8. John Scorza, 1967-68    15    1
10. Lyle James (QB), 1966-68    14    ---
11. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres.    14    ---

TIGHT ENDS REGROUP
• For the second consecutive season, Sacramento State has had to mix up its tight ends. Redshirt freshman Stone Sander, who broke his clavicle last season, injured his knee at Cal and is expected to miss at least a month.
     That injury left senior Chris Broadnax as the only tight end on the roster to catch a pass as a Hornet. To add depth, the team shifted Jonathan Bade from tackle to tight end late in training camp. Bade responded with a 6-yard touchdown against Menlo on his first career catch.
    Last week, the Hornets also shifted redshirt freshman Aaron Maher from receiver to tight end. Maher also caught his first pass at Sacramento State with a 13-yard gain.
• Broadnax is tied for third on the team with 10 receptions for 109 yards and a TD.

COACHES LUNCHEONS RETURN
• Each Monday throughout the season the public is invited to the Field House American Sports Pub. Head coach Jody Sears and selected players will speak to the audience. Highlights from the previous game and a look at the upcoming opponent will also be provided. Cost is $12 and includes your choice from a selected menu, drink, tax and gratuity. The luncheons will begin at noon each Monday but will not be held on Oct. 6 (Mattos Golf Tournament), Oct. 27 (bye week) or Nov. 17 (Causeway Classic luncheon week).

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