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OGDEN, Utah — Sacramento State's head football coach Jody Sears was named the Big Sky Conference Co-Coach of the Year, it was announced today. The honor is the first for a Hornet head football coach since joining the Big Sky in 1996. Sears shared the award with Southern Utah head coach Demario Warren.

Sears led the Hornets to a 7-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in league games. The team finished the season tied for third place in the Big Sky standings and recorded a couple of firsts at Sacramento State — winning seven games against Div. I opponents and earning six Big Sky victories.

"This is humbling and flattering but I would trade it immediately if it gave us a chance to get in to the playoffs," Sears said. "The credit goes to our entire staff and the players. The kids are the ones who bought in and made the sacrifices to the program and to the coaches. They met the standards and expectations and were fully committed raising the bar for this program."

The team's resurgence featured a high-scoring offense along with a ball-hawking defense which provided relentless pressure. Sacramento State averaged 37.6 points per game and 6.5 yards per play throughout the season. The team was explosive at Hornet Stadium, scoring 50-plus points in five games and at least 40 points in five of the six contests while posting a 5-1 record.

The Hornets relied on a punishing ground attack which rushed for 225.8 yards per game (the most since 1999) despite having just one player gain over 500 yards. Instead, Sacramento State rotated four running backs alongside quarterback Kevin Thomson and the five each had at least 75 attempts and combined to score 24 touchdowns.

Thomson started eight games for the team and finished the year with a quarterback efficiency of 171.80 to set the school single-season record. The junior threw for 1,828 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 175 attempts. Thomson was aided by by a trio of receivers which included Andre Lindsey and Jaelin Ratliff who ranked first and second in the FCS in yards per reception. Combined with his rushing total, he 2,322 yards of total offense and averaged 9.14 yards per play to set the Sacramento State record.

Defensively, the Hornets had one of the greatest turnarounds in the FCS. After ranking towards the bottom in numerous defensive metrics a year ago, Sacramento State led the Big Sky and ranked among the top three in the FCS in both third-down defense and sacks. The team limited opponents to just a 26.1 percent success rate on third down. Part of that success was a pass rush which combined for a school Div. I-era record of 43 sacks. Sacramento State had at least two sacks in all 11 games and were led by defensive ends Ben Sorensen (11.0 sacks) and George Obinna (8.5) who both earned first team all-Big Sky honors.

While the front four provided pressure, the secondary also left its mark. The Hornets recorded 14 interceptions and recorded nine fumbles. Dre Terrell led the Big Sky with five interceptions and also forced a pair of fumbles. Mister Harriel had three picks and Marcus Bruce recovered four fumbles, returning two for scores. In all, the team scored five touchdowns on either defense or special teams during the season and posted a plus-14 turnover margin.