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A BRIEF PREVIEW
The Sacramento State football team will play its final road game of the regular season when it travels to Cal Poly on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 6 p.m.
The Hornets improved their record to 5-4 overall and 4-2 in Big Sky Conference games after a 50-21 win over Northern Colorado last Saturday. Sacramento State rushed for 333 yards in the game and the defense had six sacks and forced three turnovers in the victory. Elijah Dotson led the Hornets with a career high 124 rushing yards and scored a pair of touchdowns while Roman Ale threw for a pair of scores.
A win this weekend at Cal Poly would give the Hornets five Big Sky victories for the third time in school history. The other two occurrences happened in 2000 and 2010.
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, Brian Berger and Danny Sullivan. Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com and on the iHeart Radio and Tune-In apps for mobile devices.
The game can also be viewed on WatchBigSky powered by Pluto.TV. The new service by the conference partner allows fans to watch the game on over the type devices.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: CAL POLY
Cal Poly earned its first victory of the season with a 35-28 win over Portland State last Saturday at Spanos Stadium. The game saw the teams tied at 7-7, 14-14, 21-21 and 28-28 before Reagan Enger provided the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for 953 yards of total offense but reached that number in decidedly different ways. The Vikings threw for 504 yards and two touchdowns while the Mustangs rushed for 400 yards and five scores.
Jared Mohamed has established himself as the team's leading rusher after preseason All-American Joe Protheroe was sidelined for the season after two games. Mohamed has 940 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He leads the Big Sky with 104.4 rushing yards per game and most recently had 194 yards against Portland State.
Jake Jeffrey, a graduate of Folsom HS, has taken over as the team's starting quarterback in the last two games. Jeffrey has completed 30-of-69 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.
Cal Poly is coached by Tim Walsh who is in his ninth season with the team. Walsh was previously the head coach at Sonoma State (1989-92) and Portland State (1993-2006). He has a 168-132 overall record and is 17-2 all-time against the Hornets.
LET'S GO STREAKING
Saturday's win over Northern Colorado gave the team its third straight home victory. The last time the Hornets won three consecutive home games in the same season was in 2000 when they defeated Weber State, Montana State and Cal State Northridge.
The win marked just the second time the Hornets have trailed at halftime and come back to win in Jody Sears' four seasons. The only other occurrence came last season where Sacramento State trailed 24-21 at the half before defeating Montana State, 41-38.
The Hornets shut out an opponent in the second half from the first time since the 2011 meeting at Northern Colorado. Sacramento State won that game, 14-0, in a contest which was marred by heavy winds and rain. In fact, including Saturday, the last three times the Hornets have blanked an opponent in the final two quarters have come against UNC.
Sacramento State has now had at least two sacks in all nine games this year.
The Hornets have had a 100-yard rusher in five of the last six games.
Alex Wesley caught seven passes for 144 receiving yards for Northern Colorado becoming the sixth receiver to go over the century mark against the Hornets in the last five games.
Sacramento State has scored at least 34 points in every win of Sears' tenure.
Senior Isiah Hennie caught four passes against UNC and has at least one reception in 18 consecutive games. Since 2015, Hennie has only been held without a catch one time (at Fresno State, 2016) in 30 games.
Lake Aiono and Jonathan Bade have now started 31 consecutive games dating back to the start of 2015.
Earlier this season, Sacramento State snapped a 14-game road losing streak when it defeated North Dakota, 34-27.
Sacramento State tied its season high with six sacks — all in the second half — against Northern Colorado. That matched the total against Weber State and Idaho State from earlier this season. The Hornets now have 37 sacks on the season which sets the school's FCS/Div. I-AA era record and ranks second in the FCS this year. Grambling State leads the nation with 40 sacks and an average of 4.44 per game. The Hornets are third in average at 4.11 per contest behind Yale (4.13 sacks per game).
Among Big Sky schools, only Sacramento State and Montana (32) have more than 30 sacks in 2017. The next closest team in the league is Weber State with 23.
Against UNC, senior Ben Sorensen led the team with 1.5 sacks. Immanuel Anderson, Wyatt Hjelm, Lennard Cowans and Killian Rosko each added a sack and Malcolm Thomas was credited with a half-sack. The sacks were the first of the season for Anderson, Hjelm, Cowans and Rosko and now gives the Hornets 13 players with at least one this season.
Individually, Sorensen and Obinna each have eight sacks. Due to the fact that Sorensen did not play in the season opener at Idaho, he has a slight edge over Obinna in the national and conference rankings. Sorensen leads the Big Sky and is fifth in the FCS at 1.00 sacks per game. Obinna is ninth nationally and second in the league at 0.94 per game. Dariyn Choates is tied for sixth in the Big Sky at 0.56 per game.
REVOLVING DOOR BACKFIELD
After its fourth 300-yard rushing performance in the last six games, Sacramento State moved up to 16th in the FCS and third in the Big Sky in rushing. The Hornets are currently averaging 216.8 yards per game which would be its highest single-season average since 1999 (234.9).
One of the teams Sacramento State is chasing in the Big Sky statistics is Cal Poly which leads the league and is eighth in the FCS at 249.6 yards per game.
What sets the Hornets apart from the rest of the teams in the FCS top 20 is the fact that Sacramento State does not have a primary rusher. Quarterback Kevin Thomson, who has missed the last three games, continues to lead the team with 422 rushing yards this season. The Hornets are the only team in the top 20 without a player who's rushed for at least 500 yards. Seven of the teams have a player who's rushed for at least 800 yards and 14 school's have a rusher over 600 yards.
Against Northern Colorado, Elijah Dotson recorded his first career 100-yard game and became the fourth Hornet to go over the century mark in a game this season. Dotson had 16 carries for 124 with two touchdowns. He scored the game's first points with a punishing 25-yard rush up the middle and then broke the game open with a 41-yard dash around the left edge in the third quarter.
Coming into 2017, the only player on the Hornet roster who had carried the ball as a running back was Quincy Jountti. However, the sophomore was moved to safety during fall camp leaving Sacramento State without any experience in the backfield.
Senior Joseph Ajeigbe leads the team's running backs with 435 yards and four touchdowns. The transfer from Duke had a career high 119 yards at Northern Arizona which including a 71-yard TD rush.
Redshirt freshman BJ Perkinson has averaged 57.3 yards per game with 344 total yards in six games. Perkinson had his best game against Idaho State where he had 155 rushing yards on 17 carries. He averaged 9.1 yards per carry against the Bengals and scored his first career touchdown.
Fellow redshirt freshman Isaiah Gable has 377 total yards and scored his first career touchdown with a 4-yard rush against Northern Colorado.
All four running backs and Thomson have led the team in rushing in at least one game this season.
GET OFF THE FIELD
Sacramento State moved back to the top of the FCS in third down defense after an amazing performance against Northern Colorado. The Hornets shut out the Bears on third down, holding the team to 0-for-10. That effort dropped Sacramento State's third-down defense percentage to 23.2 percent (29-of-125). The Hornets are now 10 percent better than any other team in the Big Sky as Weber State is second at 33.3 percent.
The Hornets have been stingy on nearly all third down situations as they have held teams to under 50 percent success rate at every yard to gain with the exception of 3rd-and-2 (6-10) and 3rd-and-7 (3-4).
SHARING THE WEALTH
Three more Hornets joined the touchdown party against Northern Colorado, giving Sacramento State 14 players who have scored at least one TD this season. That total is the most since 15 players found the end zone in 2010.
The three newest scorers are running back Isaiah Gable who scored on a 4-yard touchdown rush, linebacker Immanuel Anderson who returned an INT 21 yards for a TD and receiver Alexis Robinson (17-yard rec.).
Anderson became the third Sacramento State defensive player to score a touchdown this season joining Malcolm Thomas (INT vs. Weber State) and Marcus Bruce (FR at North Dakota).
Overall, eight players have scored at least two touchdowns with Kevin Thomson leading the team with eight rushing TDs. Andre Lindsey has a team-high six touchdown receptions.
Junior Devon Medeiros made field goals of 44 and 34 yards against UNC giving him 13 field goals this year. Medeiros is now 13-of-16 on the season and has made a field goal in six consecutive games.
Medeiros is in four-way tie for fourth place in school single-season history and needs just one more field goal to join Brad Cornish (2014), Bret LeVier (2002) and Scott Brown (1999) atop the leaderboard.
The Hilmar, Calif., native ranks sixth in the FCS but is third in the Big Sky with 1.44 field goals per game. Weber State's Trey Tuttle is the FCS leader at 1.78 per game.
Medeiros redshirted at Sacramento State in 2014 and appeared sparingly the following season where he was 0-of-3 on field goals. Last season, he made a 44-yarder at Fresno State early in the year but injured his leg just two games into the season and was unable to return. Now healthy, Medeiros leads the team with 77 points (13 field goals, 38 extra points). He has also averaged 63.9 yards per kickoff with 36 touchbacks.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
The Sacramento State defense was much maligned last season, ranking towards the bottom of the Big Sky and FBS in several statistical categories. Fast forward a year and the Hornets are ranked among the top four in the Big Sky in opponent third-down conversion (first), sacks (first), turnover margin (second), rushing defense (third), interceptions (third) and total defense (fourth).
Below is a look between last season and this year:
|Points allowed per game||39.2||29.6|
|Rushing yards allowed per game||289.9||135.8|
|Rushing yards per attempt||6.8||3.7|
|Passing yards allowed per game||229.7||257.1|
|Total yards allowed per game||519.6||392.9|
|Pass efficiency defense||151.1||128.9|
|Tackles-for-loss per game||5.7||8.4|
|Sacks per game||1.7||4.1|
|Third down defense||40.3%||23.2%|
HENNIE LEAVING HIS MARK
Senior Isiah Hennie is believed to be the first player in school history to return a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown in his career. Hennie had an 89-yard kickoff return against Menlo in 2014 and a 67-yard punt return against Eastern Oregon in 2015. He added a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown against Cal Poly in 2016. Now Hennie is leaving his mark in the school's career receiving records.
Entering the game at Cal Poly, Hennie is tied for fourth in school history with 134 career receptions. The San Diego native also recently cracked the top 10 in career receiving yards at Sacramento State.
Career Receptions Total Needs
3. DeAndre Carter (2011-14) 207 72
4. Shane Harrison (2011-15) 134 ---
Isiah Hennie (2014-pres.) 134 ---
Career Receiving Yards Total Needs
9. Scott Towne (1997-2000) 1,646 174
10. Isiah Hennie (2014-pres.) 1,472 ---
George Obinna and Ben Sorensen have proven successful at creating havoc from both ends of the defensive line of the last few years. Along with there ability to get to the quarterback, the duo have combined 22 tackles-for-loss, eight quarterback hurries and have forced three fumbles this season.
Obinna is tied for fourth in school career history with 19.5 sacks and needs just 1.5 more to move into the Sacramento State single-season top 10. The junior played just one season of high school football at Tracy HS but has made the transition to college football seamlessly.
Along with his 8.5 sacks, he has a team-high 11.5 tackles-for-loss, has forced three fumbles and recovered one.
Sorensen is one of the few seniors on the Hornet defense and has 15.5 career sacks which places him ninth in the Hornet record book. He also has 30.5 career tackles-for-loss to rank eighth in Sacramento State history.
For the sixth time in nine games this year, Sacramento State recorded multiple takeaways in a game. Against UNC, the Hornets picked off a pair of passes and recovered a fumble giving the team 20 takeaways this season. The Hornets had a fumble of their own, leaving the team with a plus-11 turnover margin.
Dre Terrell started the turnover frenzy with his fifth interception of the season with just over four minutes left in the third quarter. Anderson had his pick six with 5:55 left in the game and Marcus Bruce recovered a strip sack from Wyatt Hjelm on the next series. All three turnovers led to touchdowns.
Ten Sacramento State players have a takeway this season with six grabbing an interception and four recovering fumbles. Terrell leads the team and Big Sky with five interceptions, Mister Harriel has three and Malcolm Thomas has a pair of picks. Bruce and Aumua each have two recoveries while Obinna and Sorensen have one.
The team's 13 interceptions easily surpassed its total of four from a year ago.
NEW NAME, SAME RESULTS
Junior Immanuel Anderson (formerly known as Manny Scott-Anderson) may be going by a new name but continues to add to his career tackles total. Anderson had six tackles at NAU and continues is climb up the school's career tackle list.
Anderson has started 30 of the 31 games in his career. Last season, he led the team with 107 total tackles which placed him second in the Big Sky during the regular season and 10th in school single-season history.
Below is where Anderson ranks among the school's all-time leaders:
Career Tackles Total Needs
10. Elton Gabourel (1998-01) 237 15
11. Camron Mbewa (2000-03) 236 14
12. Immanuel Anderson (2015-17) 222 ---