FOOTBALL REMAINS ON THE ROAD FOR NON-CONFERENCE GAME AGAINST NORTHERN COLORADO

FOOTBALL REMAINS ON THE ROAD FOR NON-CONFERENCE GAME AGAINST NORTHERN COLORADO

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A BRIEF PREVIEW
Coming off a close loss to San Diego State, the Sacramento State football team will play its final eight games against Big Sky Conference opponents beginning with a non-league matchup against Northern Colorado on  Saturday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. PT.

The Hornets are 1-1 with a lopsided victory over Saint Francis (Ill.) and a 28-14 setback against the Aztecs. Sacramento State held a 14-13 lead with just over four minutes left to play before SDSU took a 21-14 advantage with a touchdown and two-point conversion. San Diego State put the game out of reach with a short touchdown drive after the Hornets turned it over on downs.

This is the seventh consecutive season in which Sacramento State has faced a Big Sky school outside of its eight-game league slate. The Hornets faced Northern Colorado in 2012, Southern Utah in 2013 and had a four-game series against Weber State. Sacramento State is 2-4 in those games.

Fans can 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.

A free video stream will also be available via Pluto.TV. The Eleven Sports broadcast team of Neil Harwell and Jayice Pearson will bring the action.

OPPONENT PREVIEW: NORTHERN COLORADO
Northern Colorado has started the season with a pair of losses to nationally ranked FCS opponents. The Bears began the season with a 17-14 loss at home to No. 17 McNeese State before dropping a 43-28 decision at No. 23 South Dakota this past Saturday.

Jacob Knipp ranks 11th nationally in the FCS with 296.0 passing yards per game. Knipp's favorite target has been Alex Wesley who has 13 receptions for 284 yards and a score. Wesley is also one of the top sprinters in the Big Sky and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 400 this past season.

Running back Trae Riek has been held to 35.0 rushing yards per game but has a history of big games against Sacramento State. Riek rushed for 108 yards in 2016 and 114 last season.

Defensively, four Bears have double-digit tackles. The group is led by Keifer Glau who has made 21 total tackles with two for loss. Glau has also forced a fumble and blocked a kick.

Earnest Collins, Jr., is in his eighth season leading the Bears. Collins has a 24-55 record at UNC and is 32-67 as a collegiate head coach.

WELCOME (RUNNING) BACK
Running back Bryant Perkinson made his season debut against the Aztecs and accounted for both of the team's touchdowns. The sophomore put the final touch on the team's 14-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard dive for the team's first touchdown.

Perkinson gave Sacramento State a 14-13 lead in the third quarter when he grabbed a 64-yard pass from Kevin Thomson. On the play, Perkinson ran a route down the middle of the field, caught the ball inside the 10 and split a pair of defenders for the touchdown.

The Hawthorne, Calif., native has caught a touchdown pass in his last two games. He ended 2017 with a 25-yard TD reception against UC Davis and now has two TD catches among his seven career grabs.

Perkinson missed the first three games of last season before leading the team with 72 rushing yards in the upset victory over Southern Utah.

MISTER MISTER
San Diego State came into last Saturday's game having not thrown multiple interceptions in 40 consecutive games. That streak was the longest in the FBS by a long shot as the next closest team stood at 21 straight games.

Hornet safety Mister Harriel single-handedly ended SDSU's streak with a pair of interceptions on Saturday. Harriel's first pick came on San Diego State's opening drive of the second half and included a 20-yard return. One play later, the Hornets took the lead on the pass to Perkinson.

Harriel's second interception came early in the fourth quarter and stopped the Aztec drive at the Hornet 14-yard line to preserve Sacramento State's lead. He finished the game with five tackles, including a TFL.

Last season, Harriel had three interceptions en route to earning first team all-Big Sky honors but never had multiple picks in a game.

CHAMBERS OF SACKS
With some notable absences on the Hornet defensive line, sophomore Elijah Chambers has emerged as the team's top pass rush threat this season. Chambers recorded a sack in the win over Saint Francis and had 1.5 sacks in the first quarter against the Aztecs. His total of 2.5 ranks second in the Big Sky and ties him for 14th in the FCS this season.

Chambers appeared in 10 games as a true freshman a year ago and wrapped up the year with 10 total tackles without a sack. Getting to the quarterback is nothing new for the defensive tackle as he recorded five sacks and 20 TFLs as a senior at San Jacinto HS in 2016. That season, he was the Mountain Pass League Defensive Player of the Year and earned all-Southern Section honors.

His second sack against the Aztecs extended the team's streak of multiple sacks in a game to 13. Last year, Sacramento State led the FCS with 3.91 sacks per game (43 total). Freshman Josh Cooper (1.0) and senior linebacker Manoah Pearson (0.5) also have sacks this season for the team.

Sacramento State played San Diego State without its two projected starters at defensive end. Killian Rosko missed his second consecutive game while George Obinna was out of the lineup for the first time. With those two out, the Hornets relied on the combination of Josh Cooper, Wyatt Hjelm, David Perales and Leonard Hazewood IV to play the two end positions. Prior to the start of the year only Hjelm had recorded a tackle for the team.

JUST PLAIN SELFISH
For 15 seasons, Sacramento State was unable to produce back-to-back games without a turnover. That streak, which started in 2000, came to an end midway through the 2015 season. The team then went another three years without consecutive games without a giveaway until doing it last year.

Starting with the final two games of last season and continuing through the first two of this year, the Hornets have not gone four straight games without a turnover.  Sacramento State is one of just 11 teams in the FCS to not loose the ball through the first two weeks of the year.

Last year, the Hornets were plus-14 in turnover margin which led the Big Sky. Part of Sacramento State's success was the team's ability to recover its own fumbles. The Hornets coughed the ball up 11 times but only lost possession on four of those.

AIRING IT OUT
Sacramento State currently ranks fourth in the FCS with 18.22 yards per reception. The team's roster boasts six players who have a catch of at least 25 yards, including three with grabs over 50 yards.

Jaelin Ratliff leads the team, is second in the Big Sky and 14th in the FCS with an average of 24.60 yards per reception. Ratliff had a 63-yard catch against Saint Francis and added a 29-yard grab which led to the team's first touchdown against San Diego State.

Andre Lindsey is 24th nationally and fourth in the Big Sky at 22.17 yards per catch. Lindsey was limited to two catches for 25 yards against the Aztecs with a long of 15.
The duo 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. Lindsey 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 outdoors.

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.

EFFICIENT WORK
Those deep passes combined with a high completion percentage, three touchdown passes and no interceptions places Kevin Thomson second in the FCS in quarterback efficiency. Thomson owns a mark of 218.6 which trails only Shannon Patrick of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the national rankings.

Thomson began his season by completing his first eight pass attempts and finished 11-of-12 against Saint Francis for 224 yards and two touchdowns in one half of work. Most recently, he was 11-of-18 for 177 yards and TD at SDSU.

The Auburn, Wash., native has completed 73.3 percent of his passes this season which also ranks second in the FCS.

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).

REDISCOVERED OPTION
Among the 11 players to catch a pass for the team this season are tight ends John McGill and Jarrell Anderson. Each has four receptions through the first two games with Anderson owning 68 receiving yards and McGill 47. The eight combined catches by the duo already doubles last season total of four completions to a tight end.

McGill played a vital role for the team in 2015 and 2016 before redshirting last season. He has 21 career receptions for 206 yards and has scored a pair of touchdowns.

Anderson is a true freshman from Spanaway, Wash. He was a three-star recruit and earned first team all-league honors as a tight end and defensive end.

WAITING THEIR TURN
Senior Elijah Wallace and junior Caelan Barnes tied for the team lead at San Diego State with nine tackles each. The total was one off  Wallace's career high of 10 and set a new personal best for Barnes.

Wallace played in each game his first two seasons but was limited to just three contests last season due to an early injury. Included in his nine tackles were a team high 2.5 tackles-for-loss.

Through two games, Barnes is the team's leading tackler with 16 stops. The Sacramento native opened the season with a then-career high of seven tackles against Saint Francis before being credited with nine at SDSU.  Barnes bounced between corner and safety his first two years of the program before winning the starting job this summer.

KICKING IT
Senior kicker Devon Medeiros had his streak of seven consecutive field goals come to an end when his 48-yarder hit the left upright at San Diego State. Medeiros remains the team's leading scorer this year with 15 points.

Dating back to last season, Medeiros has made 10 of his last 12 field goal attempts. His .824 field goal percentage from last season was tied for third best in a single season and his .720 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.

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 246 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 one spot on the career list after recording five tackles at San Diego State. He now has 209 stops to rank 15th and is in striking distance of the next two 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.