SACRAMENTO, Calif. — DeAndre Carter's 65-yard punt return for a touchdown completed Sacramento State's fourth-quarter comeback in a 48-41 win over Portland State on Saturday night in the final home game of the season at Hornet Stadium.
The Hornets (6-5 overall, 3-4 Big Sky Conference) trailed 41-31 entering the fourth quarter before Nnamdi Agude hauled in 31-yard strike from Garrett Safron in the right side of the end zone just eight seconds into the period.
After the defense forced a punt, Sacramento State marched inside the 10-yard line of Portland State (3-8, 2-5) but were forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Brad Cornish which tied the game with 8:05 remaining. Both defenses dug in following the field goal as the team's exchanged four punts. The last punt proved to be the most pivotal as Carter caught the 40-yard kick at his own 35-yard line and accelerated up the left sideline untouched for a 65-yard score. The return, which was only Carter's fourth of the season, was the first score on a punt return since Kyle Monson went 70 yards at Stanford on Sept. 4, 2010.
Portland State had one last attempt to tie the game but was stopped on 4th-and-18 when Josh Kraught's pass attempt fell incomplete. Sacramento State took over at the Viking 17-yard line but took a knee to end the game at the 5.
The game began with the Hornets scoring quickly. Henry Fernandez recovered a fumble on the opening play and Jordan Robinson scored from 7-yards out just two plays later to give Sacramento State a 7-0 lead. PSU then marched 84 yards on 12 plays to tie the game on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamarr Graves with 10:25 left in the first. Both teams added field goals to make the score, 10-10, at the end of one.
The second quarter saw a scoring flurry as the teams combined to score touchdowns on three consecutive offensive plays. De'Jon Coleman dashed 28-yards to cap a 91-yard scoring drive for the Hornets. After the kickoff, Nate Tago travelled 71 yards to retie the game at 17-17. Sacramento State's final turn came when Carter caught a 61-yard pass from Safron and broke the school single-season reception record in the process.
Following a 27-yard field goal from PSU's Jonathan Gonzales, the Hornets led 24-20 at the half. However, that lead was short-lived as Demetrius Jackson scooped up a fumble and returned the ball 61 yards for a touchdown two minutes into the half.
Agude returned the lead to Sacramento State, 31-27, when he caught a 33-yard pass and just crossed the goal line with 8:44 remaining in the third. The Vikings answered with a 72-yard run from Stevie Coury around the left side of the line 66 seconds later and stretched its lead when Tago scored from 3-yards out following an interception.
With time dwindling in the third quarter, the Vikings had moved into Hornet territory before Mike Sellers, who was playing in place of the injured Robbie Kendall, intercepted Kraught at the 18 and returned the ball to the Sacramento State 40 setting up the first score of the fourth quarter.
A year after combining for 1,341 yards of total offense in Portland, the two squads posted 1,034 on Saturday night. The Hornets threw for for 290 and rushed for 244. Safron finished 19-of-40 for 290 yards and three touchdown with an interception and also rushed for 66 yards. Carter added to his incredible numbers from a week ago with eight catches for 134 yards. Agude caught four passes for 82 yards and two TDs. Coleman led the team with a career high 91 yards on 17 carries.
Defensively, linebackers Russell Smith (13) and Henry Fernandez (11) each finished in double figures for the second consecutive week.
Kraught, who was making his second career start at quarterback, was 22-of-40 for 265 yards with a pick and a touchdown. Alex Toureen had six catches for 137 yards. Jeremy Lutali and Savali Talalemotu finished with 11 and 10 tackles, respectively.
Sacramento State will end its season on Saturday, Nov. 22, against UC Davis in the 61st Causeway Classic. The game will kickoff at 1 p.m. from Aggie Stadium and will also be televised by Comcast SportsNet California.
NOTES: Carter now has 90 receptions on the season, breaking Tony Washington's mark of 83 from 2008…his 36 career touchdowns (34 rec, 1 rush, 1 punt return) place him third in Hornet history…Brad Cornish moved into a tie with Scott Brown and Bret LeVier for single season field goals by a Hornet with 14…Cornish is now seventh on the career list with 17 field goals…Carter joined Charles Roberts (twice) and Troy Mills as the only players to score over 100 points in a season in Sacramento State history…his punt return was the eighth longest for a TD in the Hornet record book…Safron broke his own school record in total offense and now has 3,909 this season.