FOOTBALL READIES FOR 64TH ANNUAL CAUSEWAY CLASSIC ON SATURDAY

FOOTBALL READIES FOR 64TH ANNUAL CAUSEWAY CLASSIC ON SATURDAY

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A BRIEF PREVIEW
Winners of four of its last five games, the Sacramento State football team will look to close out its regular season with an unprecedented conference victory over UC Davis in the 64th annual Causeway Classic on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Hornet Stadium. The game against the Aggies will kick off at 2:05 p.m.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets early to avoid lines on the day of the game. Tickets can be purchased online by selecting the link on hornetsports.com. The campus box office is open on Monday-Friday.

Sacramento State improved to 6-4 overall and 5-2 in Big Sky games with a 49-14 victory at Cal Poly on Saturday. The Hornets led 14-0 after one quarter, 28-0 at the half and pushed its lead to 49-0 at the end of three quarters before the Mustangs scored a pair of late touchdowns. Sacramento State had seven different players score touchdowns and the team received scores on offense, defense and special teams.

The win guaranteed the Hornets would finish the season with a winning record and will at least tie the best Big Sky mark in program history. Sacramento State has won five Big Sky games in two other seasons but the Hornets have never finished league play at 6-2 since joining the Big Sky in 1996.

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 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: UC DAVIS
UC Davis dropped to 5-5 overall and 3-4 in league play after losing to Southern Utah, 47-27, on Saturday. Like Sacramento State, the Aggies have shown considerable improvement this season and will be looking for their first winning season since 2010.

Wide receiver Keelan Doss and quarterback Jake Maier or both candidates for the Walter Payton Award. Doss leads the FCS in receptions (10.2 per game) and receiving yards per game (132.6). Maier, who is in his first year with the Aggies, has completed 70.0 percent of his passes and ranks fourth in the FCS with 334.4 passing yards per game.

UC Davis is coached by Dan Hawkins who is in his first year at his alma mater. Hawkins previous was the head coach at Willamette, Boise State and Colorado.

SENIOR SENDOFF
Prior to Saturday's game, Sacramento State will honor 11 seniors who will be playing their final game at Hornet Stadium.

On offense, Lake Aiono, Jonathan Bade and Isiah Hennie have combined to start 95 games during their careers. Aiono has played both center and guard and is tied with the longest active start streak on the team at 32 games. Bade came to the Hornets as a tight end but moved to tackle during his sophomore season where he has started 34 games, including 32 straight. Hennie has been one of the team's leading receivers the last three years. He has caught at least one pass in 19 consecutive games and has been held without a catch just once in the last 31 contests.

Tight ends Stone Sander and Steeley Smith and running back Joseph Ajeigbe have also started games on offense during their careers.

The defensive side the of ball includes Ben Sorensen Ernest Jenkins and Tyler Meteer in the starting lineup. Sorensen is one of the premier pass rushers in the FCS with nine sacks in nine games this season. Jenkins has been a fixture on the corner where he has started 26 games, including all 10 this year. Meteer has made 17 starts in his career.

Below is a complete list of the 2017 senior class:

No. Name Pos. Hometown
1 Isiah Hennie WR San Diego, Calif.
11 Stone Sander TE Auburn, Calif.
25 Joseph Ajeigbe RB Riverside, Calif.
26 Ernest Jenkins DB Sacramento, Calif.
54 Tyler Meteer LB Loomis, Calif.
65 Pailake Aiono OL West Covina, Calif.
75 Jonathan Bade OL American Canyon, Calif.
77 Kyle Evanski DL Sacramento, Calif.
81 Steely Smith TE West Albany, Ore.
96 Lennard Cowans DL Orange, Calif.
98 Ben Sorensen DL Clovis, Calif.


SEARCH FOR SEVEN AND SIX
There is always plenty to play for in a Causeway Classic but this year a win by Sacramento State would propel the team into rarified space.

A victory by the Hornets would give the team a 7-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in Big Sky play. Since moving to Div. I in 1993, Sacramento State has had only two seven win seasons (2000, 7-4; 2014, 7-5). In both of those years, the Hornets had a victory over a non-Div. I opponent. Sacramento State has faced only Div. I foes this year, meaning this year's team would become the first to have seven D-I wins in school history.

Six Big Sky wins would also be a first at Sacramento State. The team has finished 5-3 in league play two times but has never had a chance to play for a sixth win. In 2000, the Hornets were 3-3 before winning their final two league contests. In 2010, the team won its last three Big Sky games to finish at 5-3.

Seven Div. I victories and a six conference wins is usually a good recipe for an NCAA FCS playoff berth. However, Sacramento State currently remains outside the top 25 in both the media and coaches poll. The FCS playoffs will include 24 teams with 10 earning automatic berths by winning their conference titles and 14 being selected at-large. Heading into the final week, there are 30 teams in the FCS power conferences that can get to seven Div. I victories. The selection show will air at 8 a.m. PT on ESPNU on Sunday morning.

EVERY WHICH WAY
Sacramento State found the end zone in all three facets of the game in the 49-14 win over Cal Poly. The team scored five touchdowns on offense and also had blocked field goal for a score and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

The game marked the first time that the team has had a  touchdown on offense, defense and special teams since a 69-19 win over Saint Mary's in 2003. The Hornets had a punt return, an interception return and a fumble return against the Gaels that season.

Sacramento State now has five non-offensive touchdowns this season. Four of the scores have come on defense where Marcus Bruce has two fumble recoveries and Malcolm Thomas and Immanuel Anderson each have returned interceptions.

Bruce has been a ball magnet from his linebacker spot. The junior has recovered a fumble in each of the last four games, returning two for scores. His first was a 25-yard scoop and score at North Dakota. He had a 35-yard return at NAU where he was tripped up inside the 10-yard line and dove on a loose ball against Northern Colorado. Most recently, Killian Rosko jarred the ball free from quarterback Jake Jeffrey. Several players had a shot at the ball before Bruce eventually gathered it inside the end zone.

GOING OUT WITH A BANG
A four-year player for the Hornets, Ernest Jenkins may have had his most memorable performance last week at Cal Poly. Jenkins broke the game open when he picked up a blocked field goal and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. The kick was blocked by Marcus Kirkpatrick and Jenkins was able to outrace two Mustangs down the sideline for his first career touchdown.

The senior then intercepted Jeffrey on a deep post pattern in the middle of the field for his first interception of the season. The turnover led to a Hornet touchdown and gave the team a 28-0 lead at the half.

Jenkins finished the game with three tackles but had an emphatic tackle-for-loss where he charged in to upend the Cal Poly ball carrier.

The Burbank HS graduate came to the Hornets after a stellar career as a high school quarterback. He made the move to corner for the Hornets and has started 26 games during his career, including the last 12 dating back to last season.

DOING LESS WITH MORE
Kevin Thomson returned to quarterback this weekend after missing three weeks due to injury. The junior picked up exactly where he left off, throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

Thomson has been very good in his last four games. He threw for 253 yards against Southern Utah and Eastern Washington, raised his total all the way to 254 yards against Eastern Washington before having 247 at Cal Poly.

The junior is now averaging 221.7 passing yards per game and 60.7 rushing yards per game. His average of 282.4 yards of total offense per contest would rank as the third highest in school history. Only Garrett Safron averaged more yards of total offense as he had 353.4 in 2014 and 315.1 in 2013.

What has set Thomson apart has been his ability to accumulate yards on a small amount of plays. He is currently averaging 8.99 yards per play which would place him fifth in the FCS had he played in the required 75 percent of the team's games. Thomson's mark is on pace to shatter the school single-season record of 7.68 which was set by Safron in 2014.

Despite missing three games, Thomson is second on the team with 425 rushing yards on the season and is the only player on the roster to rush for at least five TDs.

Thomson became the first Hornet QB to have consecutive 100-yard games in school history and joins Garrett Safron as the only Sacramento State signal callers to have multiple 100-yard rushing games in their careers. Safron had four games over the century mark during his career from 2011-14.

Ricky Ray holds the Sacramento State single-season record with 10 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Ray set that mark in 2000.

Single Season Total Off. Per Game        Avg.
1. Garrett Safron, 2014        353.4
2. Garrett Safron, 2013        315.1
3. Kevin Thomson, 2017        282.4

Single Season Total Off. Per Play        Avg.
1. Kevin Thomson, 2017        8.99
2. Garrett Safron, 2014        7.68
3. Troy Mills, 1991        7.48

Single Season TDs Responsible For    Total    Needs
T4. Jeff Fleming, 2010    25    3
T4. Ricky Ray, 1999    25    3
6. Ricky Ray, 2000    23    1
T7. Charles Roberts, 1999    22    ---
T7. Kevin Thomson, 2017    22    ---

PITCHING SHUTOUTS
Prior to two weeks ago, Sacramento State had not shut out a Div. I opponent in a half in over six years. Since then, the Hornets have done it in back-to-back halves.

Sacramento State started its streak by blanking Northern Colorado over the final two quarters on Nov. 4. The team then went on to shut out Cal Poly in the first half on Nov. 11.

The Hornets also did not allow a point in the third quarter against the Mustangs. Cal Poly finally broke through with a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Those points stopped the streak at 80 minutes, 13 seconds (80:13).

SACK STATE
Sacramento State did the near unthinkable at Cal Poly — sacking the run-heavy Mustangs four times. The Hornets now have 41 sacks on the season which sets the school's FCS/Div. I-AA era record. The team also moved to the top of the FCS last week with 4.10 sacks per game. Sacramento State is trailed by James Madison (4.00) and Grambling State (4.00). Those three schools are the only ones in the FCS currently at four or more sacks per game.

Among Big Sky schools, only Sacramento State and Montana (35) have more than 30 sacks in 2017. The next closest team in the league is Weber State with 26.

Against Cal Poly, Killian Rosko, Malcolm Thomas, Manoah Pearson and Ben Sorensen each got to quarterback Jake Jeffrey. Those four sacks were part of the team's 14.0 tackles-for-loss.

Individually, Sorensen and Obinna rank first and second in the Big Sky in sacks per game. Sorensen has nine sacks in his nine games which not only leads the Big Sky but ranks sixth in the FCS. Obinna has eight sacks in 10 games (0.85 per game) which is tied for 11th nationally.

Sacramento State also has two other players ranked among the top 20 in the Big Sky in sacks per game. Dariyn Choates is eighth at 0.50 and Malcolm Thomas is tied for 19th at 0.35.

CATCH THEM IF YOU CAN
Andre Lindsey and Jaelin Ratliff combined for 187 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on just five receptions at Cal Poly.

Big plays are nothing new for the duo as each rank among the top five in the FCS in yards per reception. Lindsey returned to the national lead with an average of 30.32 yards per catch. The junior has caught 19 passes this season for 576 yards and leads the team with six receiving touchdowns.

Ratliff ranks fourth nationally at 26.8 yards per catch, The junior started the game with a career long 76-yard touchdown reception on the team's third offensive play of the game. In nine games this year, Ratliff has 21 receptions for 563 yards and four TDs.

Lindsey and Ratliff are both natives of Stockton, Calif. Lindsey came to the Hornets after playing one season at Delta JC following his high school career at Stagg HS. He also competes for the Sacramento State track & field team where he was the Big Sky outdoor champion in the 110-hurdles last season and advanced to the NCAA West Preliminary.

REVOLVING DOOR BACKFIELD
Sacramento State needed just 30 carries to hit its season rushing average almost right on the nose against Cal Poly. The Hornets entered the game averaging 216.8 yards per game before rushing for 218 (7.3 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns against the Mustangs.

The most recent performance came a week after the Hornets recorded their fourth 300-yard rushing game of the season. Sacramento State is currently averaging 216.9 yards per game which would be its highest single-season average since 1999 (234.9). That mark places the team third in the Big Sky and 17th nationally.

BJ Perkinson was the team's leading rusher against the Mustangs with a career high 164 yards on seven attempts. The redshirt freshman averaged 23.4 yards per attempt and was sparked by a 77-yard touchdown run down the sideline in the third quarter.

Perkinson, who was a wide receiver last season, now leads the Hornets with 508 rushing yards despite missing the first three games of the season. He is averaging 6.9 yards per carry and has three touchdowns.

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 ranks second among the team's running backs with 406 yards and four touchdowns. The transfer from Duke had a career high 119 yards at Northern Arizona which including a 71-yard TD rush.

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 had another stellar performance on third down to remain the national leader in defensive third down percentage. The Hornets held Cal Poly to 5-of-17 on third down which kept the team's percentage at 23.9 for the year. That mark is easily leads the Big Sky (Weber State is second at 32.4 percent) and is more than a percentage point ahead of the next best team in the FCS (North Carolina Central, .243).

Sacramento State's high point came a week earlier against Northern Colorado where the Hornets limited the Bears to 0-for-10 on third down. Coupled with the final four attempts at NAU two weeks ago and the start of the game against Cal Poly, Sacramento State was successful on 19 consecutive third downs.

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 (7-of-11) and 3rd-and-7 (3-of-5). Sacramento State has also forced the opposition into 28 situations of 3rd-and-11 or longer.

SHARING THE WEALTH
Ernest Jenkins' blocked field goal return for a touchdown made him the 15th Sacramento State player to score a touchdown this season. That total is the most since 15 players found the end zone in 2010.

One week earlier, three players scored their first touchdown of the season against Northern Colorado. Those three were 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.).

Overall, nine players have scored at least two touchdowns with Kevin Thomson leading the team with eight rushing TDs. Andre Lindsey has a team-high seven touchdown receptions.

KICKING IT
Junior Devon Medeiros was limited to just extra points in the team's 49-14 win at Cal Poly. Despite scoring seven points, he snapped a streak of making a field goal in six consecutive games. Medeiros remains 13-of-16 on the season and leads the team in scoring with 84 points.

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 fifth in the FCS but is third in the Big Sky with 1.44 field goals per game. Lorran Fonseca is the FCS leader at 1.70 field goals 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 84 points (13 field goals, 45 extra points). He has also averaged 64.2 yards per kickoff with 39 touchbacks.

Below is where Medeiros ranks in school single-season history:

Single Season Scoring    Total    Needs
5. Brad Cornish (2014)    98    14
T6. DeAndre Carter (2013)    90    6
T6. John Farley (1982)    90    6
8. Charles Roberts (2000)    86    2
T9. Scott Brown (1999)    84    ---
T9. Mike Carter (1969)    84    ---
T9. Devon Medeiros (2017)    84    ---

Single Season Field Goals    Total    Needs
T1. Brad Cornish (2014)    14    1
T1. Bret LeVier (2002)    14    1
T1. Scott Brown (1999)    14    1
T4. Chris Diniz (2010)    13    ---
T4. Scott Brown (1998)    13    ---
T4. Jim Crouch (1991)    13    ---
T4. Devon Medeiros (2017)    13    ---

Single Season Extra Points    Total    Needs
1. Brad Cornish (2014)    56    11
2. Devon Medeiros (2017)    45    ---

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 against UC Davis, Hennie is fourth in school history with 137 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    70
4. Isiah Hennie (2014-pres.)    137    ---

Career Receiving Yards    Total    Needs
9. Scott Towne (1997-2000)    1,646    158
10. Isiah Hennie (2014-pres.)    1,488    ---

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 (t-first), rushing defense (third), interceptions (third) and total defense (third).

Below is a look between last season and this year:

Category 2016 2017
Points allowed per game 39.2 28.0
Rushing yards allowed per game 289.9 136.3
Rushing yards per attempt 6.8 3.4
Passing yards allowed per game 229.7 246.2
Total yards allowed per game 519.6 382.5
Interceptions 4 14
Pass efficiency defense 151.1 128.3
Tackles-for-loss per game 5.7 9.0
Sacks per game 1.7 4.1
Third down defense 40.3% 23.9%


TURNOVER TURNAROUND
For the seventh time in 10 games this year, Sacramento State recorded multiple takeaways in a game. Against Cal Poly, the Hornets picked off a pass and recovered a fumble. Both turnovers led to Hornet touchdowns in the game. Sacramento State did not have a giveaway and increased its turnover margin to plus-13 this season which is tied for the best in the Big Sky and tied for fifth nationally.

Eleven Sacramento State players have a takeway this season with seven 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 has four fumble recoveries while Seperine Aumua has two and Obinna and Sorensen have one.

The team's 14 interceptions easily surpassed its total of four from a year ago.

If Sacramento State is able to maintain its plus-13 turnover margin, it would tie the school single-season record.

On the other side, the Hornets have just nine turnovers this season. The single season record for fewest turnovers in a season is 13. Sacramento State QBs have combined to throw five interceptions and the team has lost just four fumbles despite putting the ball on the ground 10 times.

POWERFUL BOOKENDS
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 their ability to get to the quarterback (17.5 sacks), the duo have combined 23 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 is tied for the 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 16.5 career sacks which places him ninth in the Hornet record book. He also has 31.5 career tackles-for-loss to rank eighth in Sacramento State history. The next sack for the Clovis, Calif., native will move into the top 10 in school single-season history.

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 seven solo tackles at Cal Poly 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
9. Brent Webber (2004-07)    249    20
10. Elton Gabourel (1998-01)    237    8
11. Camron Mbewa (2000-03)    236    7
12. Immanuel Anderson (2015-17)    229    ---

LET'S GO STREAKING
Sacramento State has won three consecutive homes games in the same season for the first time since 2000. The last time the Hornets won four straight at home came in 1992 when the team went 5-0.

The win over Northern Colorado 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.

Sacramento State won at Cal Poly for the first time since 1999, snapping a six-game losing streak.

Sacramento State has now had at least two sacks in all 10 games this year.

The Hornets have had a 100-yard rusher in five of the last six games.

Sacramento State has scored at least 34 points in every win of Sears' tenure.

Senior Isiah Hennie caught three passes at Cal Poly and has at least one reception in 19 consecutive games. Since 2015, Hennie has only been held without a catch one time (at Fresno State, 2016) in 31 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. 

JUST THE FACTS
Sacramento State was picked to finish 12th by the Big Sky coaches and media in the preseason polls.

The Hornets have four players who have already earned their bachelor's degree and are currently pursuing a master's. The group is comprised of seniors Jon Bade, Stone Sander and Joseph Ajeigbe as well as junior Austin Clark. Clark earned his degree in just three academic years and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Sacramento State elected four captains for the 2017 season. WR Isiah Hennie, OL Jon Bade and DB Austin Clark all return for their second season as a captain. New this year is tight end Stone Sander.

Sacramento State has three new coaches in 2017 in offensive coordinator Luke Huard, cornerbacks coach CJ Cox and safeties coach John Therrell. Defensive coordinator Sammy Lawanson moved from safeties to linebackers as well.

There are only three players on the roster not from California. The three are QBs Kolney Cassel and Kevin Thomson who are both from Washington and tight end Steely Smith from Oregon.

Sacramento State set the school record with one penalty for two yards at Idaho.

The team's only infraction was a delay of game which resulted in half the distance to the goal line.

WR Andre Lindsey was the Big Sky champion in the outdoor 110-hurdles. WR Darius Armstead was the Big Sky indoor and outdoor champion in the triple jump where he set the school record in both seasons.

Dre Terrell was named the FCS Defensive Player of the Week after having three INTs against Incarnate Word.

Along with the QBs on the roster, the Hornets have eight other players who were high school QBs. Two of those players are now receivers while the other six play in the defensive backfield.

Kevin Thomson was named the FCS Offensive Player of the Week following the win over Southern Utah where he threw for 253 yards and three TDs and rushed for 149 yards and four scores.

Defensive end Josiah Erickson and Allen Perryman were injured at Eastern Washington and will miss significant time.