A BRIEF PREVIEW
After having little trouble in a 55-7 win over Saint Francis in the season opener, the Sacramento State football team will have a much larger challenge as it travels south to take on San Diego State on Saturday, Sept. 8. The game will kick off just after 6 p.m. at SDCCU Stadium.
The Hornets scored seven touchdowns and added two field goals and tallied its highest point total in a season opener in program history.
This week, Sacramento State will play a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision. Playing up is nothing new for the Hornets as the team has faced at least one FBS opponent each year since 2002.
While both teams are located in California and members of the CSU system, Saturday will mark the first time the Hornets and Aztecs have met on the gridiron. In fact, the only school Sacramento State has faced from San Diego is US International (1967, '68, '79).
The only way for Hornet fans to follow the action is to tune in to ESPN 1320 AM 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 Tune-In app for mobile devices.
There will not be a television broadcast or video stream of the game.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: SAN DIEGO STATE
San Diego State has established itself as one of the winningest programs nationally in the last decade. The Aztecs are one of only two teams (Stanford) in California to advance to the postseason in each of the last eight years. SDSU is also one of just seven NCAA schools to win 10 games the last three years.
The Aztecs started the season with a 31-10 loss at Stanford last Friday. San Diego State scored the first points of the game only to have Cardinal stake a 9-7 lead at halftime. SDSU rushed for 150 yards but threw for only 113. The team also limited Heisman Trophy hopeful Bryce Love to 29 yards but Stanford threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns in the win.
Juwan Washington is the latest San Diego State running back to compile huge yardage. Washington had 158 rushing yards against Stanford. He follows Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny who were both NFL draft picks.
Rocky Long is in his eighth season leading the Aztecs. Long was previous the head coach at New Mexico where he faced the Hornets in 2007 and recorded a 58-0 victory.
MOVING ON UP
Facing a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent is nothing new for Sacramento State. Since 2002, the team has played at least one FBS foe every year. Included in that list was the 2011 upset at Oregon State and the 2012 victory at Colorado.
In 2012, Sacramento State began the year with a loss at New Mexico State before winning at Colorado. That victory made Sacramento State and North Dakota State the only two FCS teams to knock off an FBS opponent in 2011 and 2012.
The Hornets' only other victories over a Div. I-A/FBS team both came against Pacific. Sacramento State defeated the Tigers, 30-21, in 1988 and 43-40 in 1991.
Due to the recent conference shuffle, nearly every FBS opponent Sacramento State has faced since 2002 currently plays in the Pac-12 (Oregon State, California, Stanford, Colorado) or Mountain West (Nevada, Boise State, Fresno State, New Mexico, Colorado State, UNLV). The lone exceptions have been New Mexico State in 2012 and Idaho in 2017 who were both members of the Sun Belt Conference at the time.
Below are the results of all games against FBS opponents since 2002.
Date Opponent Result
Aug. 31, 2002 at UTEP L, 42-12
Aug. 8, 2003 at Oregon State L, 40-7
Sept. 11, 2004 at Nevada L, 59-7
Sept. 3, 2005 at California L, 41-3
Aug. 31, 2006 at Boise State L, 45-0
Sept. 1, 2007 at Fresno State L, 24-3
Sept. 22, 2007 at New Mexico L, 58-0
Sept. 6, 2008 at Colorado State L, 23-20
Sept. 5, 2009 at UNLV L, 38-3
Sept. 4, 2010 at Stanford L, 52-17
Sept. 3, 2011 at Oregon State W, 29-28 (ot)
Aug. 30, 2012 at New Mexico State L, 49-19
Sept. 8, 2012 at Colorado W, 30-28
Aug. 28, 2013 at San Jose State L, 24-0
Sept. 5, 2013 at Arizona State L, 55-0
Sept. 6, 2014 at California L, 55-14
Sept. 12, 2015 at Washington L, 49-0
Sept. 10, 2016 at Fresno State L, 31-3
Aug. 31, 2017 at Idaho L, 28-6
Sacramento State's 630 yards of offense were the most in a season opener in school history and the fourth most in the team's Div. I era.
The Hornets had not compiled 600 yards of offense in a game since amassing 694 against Montana State in 2014.
Dating back to last season, Sacramento State has 500-plus yards of offense in back-to-back games. The team has had 465 yards or more in four consecutive contests.
The 402 passing yards were also a school record for a season opener and marked the first time the Hornets have gone over 400 since throwing for 425 against Southern Utah in 2014.
Sacramento State averaged 10.68 yards per play against Saint Francis which broke the Div. I era record of 10.06 against Montana State in 2014.
The Hornets scored 55 points to set the school record for the first game of the season. The team has now scored 50-plus points in consecutive games and three of the last four. The lone exception was 49 at Cal Poly.
EVERYONE GETS A TURN
A combination of a lopsided score and the new NCAA rules allowing players to appear in four games and still redshirt, allowed for Sacramento State to play 64 players in the game against Saint Francis.
The team used three quarterbacks, had seven players carry the ball, nine players catch a pass and 25 make a tackle.
The trio of Kevin Thomson, Wyatt Clapper and Jack Rice combined to complete 20-of-26 passes (.769) for 402 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Thomson connected on his first eight attempts and finished 11-of-12 for 224 yards and two TDs in the first half. Those numbers gave him an efficiency of 303.5 which would lead the FCS had he recorded enough attempts.
Clapper also set career bests with seven completions and 148 yards. Rice made his collegiate debut and went 2-for-3 for 30 yards and also rushed for 43 yards.
Redshirt freshman Pierre Williams made his first start at wide receiver and finished with three catches for 41-yards, including a touchdown.
Ja'Narrick James, Darnay Smith and Montaz Thompson all saw their first action as Hornets at running back. James, a JC transfer who redshirted last season, rushed for 59 yards and a pair of scores on a team-high 10 attempts. Smith, a true freshman, had 29 yards on five carries and scored on a 5-yard rush. Thompson, another true freshman, had five rushes for 16 yards.
True freshman Jarrell Anderson came on in the second half an impressed at tight end. The three-star recruit from the Seattle area had three catches for 64 yards in his first collegiate game.
Defensively, nine players recorded their first career tackle. Redshirt freshman Josh Cooper recorded a 7-yard sack for his first career stop. Cooper also blocked a field goal attempt.
On special teams, graduate transfer Owen Hoolihan and true freshman Ricky Purvis also made their Hornet debut. Hoolihan was only called upon one time to punt in the game while Purvis handled one kickoff.
CATCH THEM IF YOU CAN
The receiving duo of Andre Lindsey and Jaelin Ratliff started 2018 much like they concluded last season. Lindsey led the team with 108 receiving yards and a touchdown on four receptions while Ratliff was close behind with 94 yards on four grabs. Neither receiver played in the second half.
Lindsey had a 50-yard reception as well as his 35-yard touchdown catch. The game marked his fifth career 100-yard receiving game and his second in the last three games. Ratliff's game was highlighted by a finger-tip grab of 63 yards.
Last year, the pair finished last season ranked first and second, in the FCS in yards per reception. Lindsey was the national leader at 30.2 ypc while Ratliff averaged 26.5 yards per grab. Both players eclipsed the previous Sacramento State single season record of 23.21 ypc by Kevin Fontes which had stood since 1982.
Lindsey wrapped up the year with 25 receptions for a team high 756 yards and seven touchdown catches. He also showcased his speed with a rushing TD during the year. The Stockton, Calif., native went on to win the Big Sky individual title in the 60-hurdles during the indoor track & field season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA West Preliminary in the 110-hurdles during the outdoor campaign.
Those numbers led to him earning one of three spots on the preseason all-Big Sky Conference team. He also garnered fourth team preseason FCS All-America honors from Phil Steele's College Football Preview.
Ratliff also had 25 receptions for 663 yards and four scores. He enters the season with 1,290 career receiving yards which places him 18th in school history.
The pair, who are both natives of Stockton, Calif., have combined for 10 100-yard games in their careers. However, they have yet to both go over the century mark in the same game.
Below is where the two rank in Sacramento State history:
Career Receiving Yards Total Needs
10. Isiah Hennie (2014-17) 1,523 139
11. Kevin Fontes (1981-82) 1,468 84
12. Michael Johnson (1999-02) 1,420 36
13. Jaelin Ratliff (2015-pres.) 1,384 ---
20. Bill Yurong (1965-67) 1,254 212
---- Andre Lindsey (2016-pres.) 1,042
Sacramento State's roster features 30 players who prepped at high schools in the Sac-Joaquin Section. No school, however, is more represented that Antelope HS where the Hornets have five former Titans.
Those five all made their impact in the season opener against Saint Francis. Elijah Dotson started the party with a 73-yard touchdown rush on the team's third offensive play of the game. Dotson led the Hornets with 85 rushing yards and had two touchdowns in his two quarters of work.
Safety Caelan Barnes paced the defense with seven tackles. Barnes, who was making his first career start, had four solo stops as well as a pass breakup from his safety position.
Davaeon Johnson and Leonard Hazewood IV made their debuts after transferring to the team over the summer. Johnson, who played the last two seasons at Humboldt State, had three tackles. Hazewood, a graduate transfer from Idaho, also had three stops, including a tackle-for-loss.
The final Antelope graduate is Mister Harriel who had two tackles against the Fighting Saints.
Harriel was named to the STATS FCS All-America third team and was one of just 12 defensive backs to be recognized. He was also named to the Street & Smith's FCS preseason All-America team.
As a junior, the Sacramento native led the team with a career high 87 tackles which included five tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Harriel added three interceptions and a pair of pass breakups while patrolling the middle of the field. The Antelope HS graduate was one of the more consistent players on the team in 2017, recording at least three tackles in al 11 games. He had double-digit stops in three games, including 11 in the victory over UC Davis in the Causeway Classic.
Off the field, Harriel has become an internet sensation with his trick shots. He first went viral with a behind-the-back strike in bowling and has since added several basketball trick shots, including one which landed him on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10.
LET'S GO STREAKING
Sacramento State's four consecutive wins is the longest active streak in the Big Sky and the sixth longest in the FCS. North Carolina A&T currently owns a 14-game winning streak while defending national champion North Dakota State is at seven.
The Hornets have won five straight home games for the first time since a five-game streak which spanned 2000-01. The longest home winning streak in school history is seven games which started in the final game of 1991 and continued to the first game of 1993.
Sacramento State has scored at least 34 points in every win of Sears' tenure.
The Hornets have had two or more sacks in 12 consecutive games.
Senior kicker Devon Medeiros led the team in the game against Saint Francis with 13 points. Medeiros made a pair of field goals and all seven of his PATs.
Dating back to last season, Medeiros has made seven consecutive field goals and 10 of his last 11. His .824 field goal percentage from last season was tied for third best in a single season and his .750 career mark is the fourth best in program history.
Medeiros was named second team all-Big Sky last season after tying the school record for field goals and recording the second most points by a kicker in program history. Medeiros was 14-of-17 on field goals during the year to pull even with Brad Cornish, Bret LeVier and Scott Brown in the Hornet record book. He also made 52 PATs to finish the season with 94 points.
His first make of the year was his longest as he converted a 52-yarder at Idaho which was tied for second all-time by a Hornet and just a yard shy of the school record. Medeiros was also a weapon on kickoffs with 43 touchbacks during the season on 75 attempts.
Medeiros redshirted at Sacramento State in 2015 and appeared sparingly the following season where he was 0-of-3 on field goals. In 2016, 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.
Below is where Medeiros ranks in school career history:
Career Field Goals Total Needs
5. Chris Diniz (2009-10) 25 7
T6. Jim Crouch (1990-91) 19 1
T6 Roy Arreygue (1973-75) 19 1
8. Devon Medeiros (2015-pres.) 18 ---
Career Extra Points Total Needs
3. Brad Cornish (2012-15) 89 23
4. Chris Diniz (2009-10) 70 4
5. Tyson Becker (1992-95) 68 2
6. Devon Medeiros (2015-pres.) 66 ---
The Hornets had a relatively slow start to its sack total with two against Saint Francis. Those two came from unlikely sources as sophomore Elijah Chambers and redshirt freshman Josh Cooper each tallied their first career sacks.
Last season, Sacramento State led the FCS with 3.91 sacks per game. The team's total of 43 sacks in 11 games also set the school Div. I-era record and was the second most in program history — trailing only the 53 in 1986.
Leading the charge were defensive ends Ben Sorensen and George Obinna who finished the year ranked first and second in the league in sacks. Sorensen, who was a senior last season, finished with 10.0 sacks while Obinna was close behind at 8.5.
Obinna also tied for the team lead with 12.5 tackles-for-loss which helped him earn first team all-Big Sky honors at the end of the year. The Tracy, Calif., native was also selected as a preseason All-American by three services and earned preseason all-league accolades.
A SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT
A year ago, Kevin Thomson headed into the season opener at Idaho a little rusty. The quarterback had not played in a game since his senior season of high school in 2013. Thomson's lack of game action was apparent against the Vandals as he was 10-of-21 for only 95 yards without a touchdown.
This past week was a bit of a different story as Thomson was methodical in his one half of action. The senior completed his first eight passes and finished the game 11-of-12 for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
Last season, Thomson missed three games in the second half of the season with a fractured back but still managed to throw 17 touchdown passes during the season which tied him for sixth in program history. His efficiency of 171.8 was 20 points better than anyone in program history and he also set the school record with an average of 10.45 yards per pass (previous record was 8.37 ypp).
The Auburn, Wash., native was also a threat on the ground as he ranked second on the team with 494 rushing yards and led the Hornets with nine rushing touchdowns. His average of 9.14 yards of total offense per play set a school record and he moved into third place with 290.2 yards of total offense per game. Thomson accounted for 26 touchdowns which placed him fourth in the Sacramento State record book.
Thomson became the first Hornet QB to have consecutive 100-yard rushing games in school history and joined 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.
ANDERSON, PEARSON CLIMB THE LIST
The linebacking duo of Immanuel Anderson and Manoah Pearson both moved into the top 20 in school history in career tackles last season. The pair has started games since their freshman seasons and are both poised to end their career among the best in school history.
Anderson is currently 10th on the all-time list with 239 tackles. The senior began his career as a safety before taking over the rover position last season. He led the team with 107 tackles in 2016 and added 59 a year ago, including 10 for loss. The Vallejo, Calif., native has recorded a tackle in all 34 games of his career and has eight games with 10-plus stops.
Pearson jumped up three spots on the career list after recording six tackles against Saint Francis. He now has 204 stops to rank 16th and is in striking distance of the next three above him. The Carson, Calif., native has made at least 52 tackles each season. He earned honorable mention all-Big Sky last season and has seven career games with double digit tackles.
Below is where Anderson and Pearson rank among the school's all-time leaders:
Career Tackles Total Needs
8. Mike Brannon (2005-08) 258 19
9. Brent Webber (2004-07) 249 10
10. Immanuel Anderson (2015-pres.) 239 ---
12. Camron Mbewa (2000-03) 236 32
13. Ramon Payne (2001-04) 212 8
14. Carlos Williams (1996-99) 210 6
15. Jeff Badger (2009-12) 206 2
16. Manoah Pearson (2015-pres.) 204 ---
THREE HORNETS ON NFL ROSTERS
Three Sacramento State alums are on NFL rosters at the start of the 2018 season.
Linebacker Todd Davis returns for his fifth season with the Denver Broncos. Davis, who signed a new contract in the offseason, was named one of the team's captains for 2018. He has started 29 games over the last two seasons for the team and has 141 career tackles.
DeAndre Carter made the 53-man roster with the Philadelphia Eagles. Carter has bounced around the league on practice squads since 2015 before making his first active roster. The wide receiver has had stops with the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.
Despite recording a team-high 12 tackles in the final preseason game, Darnell Sankey was released by the Detroit Lions last Saturday. Sankey, however, was signed to the team's practice squad.
JUST THE FACTS
In a vote by the team members, Sacramento State will have four captains this season. The quartet is comprised of Immanuel Anderson, Mister Harriel, George Obinna and Kevin Thomson.
The Hornets have a pair players who have already earned their bachelor's degree and are currently pursuing a master's. Punter Owen Hoolihan and linebacker Leonard Hazewood IV are both graduate transfers to the team after earning their degrees.
Sacramento State football and men's basketball games moved to ESPN 1320 this season. All five home games will also be televised locally by CW31.
The NCAA has adopted a couple of new rules this season that will affect play. Teams may now fair catch a kickoff inside their own 20-yard line and have it serve as a touchback, placing the ball at the 25. Also, student-athletes may participate in up to four games and still redshirt during the season. It does not matter when the four games occur during the season and do not have to come in consecutive weeks.
Safety Austin Clark was forced to retire from football due to injury and is now serving as a student assistant.
JB Hall is the only new member of the coaching staff. Hall spent the last three seasons as the cornerbacks coach at Montana.
Sacramento State was ranked 19th in the preseason top 25 by Street & Smith's and 19th by Athlon Sports.
The Hornets have a pair of twins in Cory and Colin Payne and Jett and Jordan Stanley. Sacramento State previously had another set Payne twins in Anthony and Nicholas Payne (no relation between the sets).
Sacramento State defensive coordinator Sammy Lawanson is a graduate of San Diego State. Lawanson was a two-year starter at outside linebacker at San Diego State in 1995 and 1996. He was an honorable mention all-WAC selection following his junior season.
Former Sacramento State assitant coach Richard Sanchez is the special teams/safeties coach for the Aztecs. Sanchez coached the Hornets from 2005-08.
The Hornets have two players from the San Diego area on its 2018 roster. DJ Lacy (Point Loma HS) and Isaiah Capoocia (El Capitan HS).
San Diego State has three players from the Sacramento area in FB Isaac Lessard (Jesuit HS), S Mark Ellis (Granite Bay HS/American River JC) and DL Anthony Luke (Woodcreek HS/American River JC).
September 17, 2018 HOOLIHAN NAMED NATIONAL AND BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK
September 15, 2018 FOOTBALL FIGHTS BACK FOR 28-25 ROAD WIN AT NORTHERN COLORADO
September 8, 2018 FOOTBALL PUSHES SAN DIEGO STATE TO THE LIMIT IN CLOSE LOSS
September 4, 2018 ROAD TEST AGAINST FBS SAN DIEGO STATE UP NEXT FOR FOOTBALL
September 1, 2018 COMPLETE TEAM EFFORT CARRIES FOOTBALL TO 55-7 WIN IN SEASON OPENER
August 30, 2018 MEDEIROS NAMED TO FRED MITCHELL AWARD WATCH LIST
August 28, 2018 FOOTBALL OPENS SEASON AGAINST ST. FRANCIS ON SATURDAY
August 27, 2018 FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW: QUARTERBACKS
August 27, 2018 GAMEDAY ENHANCEMENTS MADE AT HORNET STADIUM FOR FOOTBALL SEASON
August 26, 2018 FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW: DEFENSIVE BACKS
August 25, 2018 FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW: WIDE RECEIVERS
August 24, 2018 FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW: LINEBACKERS
August 23, 2018 FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW: RUNNING BACKS
August 22, 2018 FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW: DEFENSIVE LINE
August 21, 2018 FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW: OFFENSIVE LINE/TIGHT ENDS
August 20, 2018 FOOTBALL POSITION PREVIEW: SPECIALISTS
August 15, 2018 CW31 TO AIR ALL FOOTBALL HOME GAMES IN 2018
August 3, 2018 FOOTBALL HOLDS FIRST FULL-TEAM PRACTICE ON MONDAY
July 15, 2018 SEARS, ANDERSON, RATLIFF TO APPEAR AT BIG SKY KICKOFF