CEDAR CITY, Utah — Sacramento State jumped out to a quick first quarter lead but could not hold on in a 48-27 loss to Southern Utah on Saturday night at a sold out Eccles Coliseum.
The win was the first for the Thunderbirds this season as the team improved to 1-5 overall and 1-2 in conference play. Sacramento State fell to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in league games. SUU had not played at home since its season opener against North Alabama and had four road games at Oregon State, Arizona, Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington.
The Hornets scored on the opening drive of the game when Elijah Dotson darted 50 yards up the middle of the field. Southern Utah answered with a 99-yard kickoff return from Judd Cockett to tie the score. From there, Sacramento State scored the next two touchdowns. Quarterback Kevin Thomson was drilled on a pass attempt and was replaced by Wyatt Clapper. The Hornets quickly put Clapper to use as he found Pierre Williams for a 41-yard touchdown pass and later scored on a 17-yard rush to give the team a 21-7 lead at the end of the quarter.
Southern Utah scored the game's next 20 points and never relinquished the lead. Karris Davis had touchdown rushes of 6 and 22 yards, reserve quarterback Austin Ewing has a TD catch and run and Jay Green found the end zone on two rushes. Sacramento State's only answers during the flurry were a pair of short field goals from Devon Medeiros.
The Hornets were able to compile 528 yards of total offense in the game and did not have an offensive turnover. Clapper completed 15 passes for 246 yards with a touchdown. Johnnie Rucker and Jaelin Ratliff each had five receptions to lead the team. Rucker finished with a career high 93 yards and Pierre Williams finished with 76 yards.
Elijah Dotson recorded his third straight 100-yard game as the sophomore had 22 carries for 149 yards. Bryant Perkinson saw action for the first time in two weeks and finished with 47 rushing yards.
Aaron Zwahlen completed 22-of-31 passes for 153 yards and 10 rushers combined for 259 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Jay Green led the T-Birds with 107 yards and two scores and Karris Davis finished with 84 rushing yards and two TDs.
Caelan Barnes had his second straight game with 10 tackles to lead the team. Barnes had nine solos as well as a pass breakup. Allen Perryman contributed a career high seven tackles and Marcus Bruce matched the total in his first appearance of the year.
Sacramento State returns home for back-to-back home games. The stretch starts next Saturday for a Homecoming game against North Dakota on Oct. 20. The game will kick off at 6:05 p.m. and will feature fireworks.
13:44 - Sacramento State took the opening drive and needed just four plays to score the first touchdown. After a big third-down conversion from Johnnie Rucker took the ball to midfield, Elijah Dotson covered the remaining 50 yards on a rush up the middle for his eighth rushing score of the season.
13:30 - The lead disappeared just 13 second later when Judd Cockett took the ensuing kickoff at the 1-yard line and darted around the right edge for a touchdown. The score was the first allowed by the Hornets on a kick return since 2015.
8:11 - Sacramento State moved back ahead with a 41-yard pass to freshman Pierre Williams. Senior Wyatt Clapper came on in relief of Kevin Thomson during the series and found Williams on a slant route on his first pass.
0:02 - The Hornets stretched their lead to 21-7 when Clapper scored his first rushing touchdown of his career. The senior kept the ball on an option and initially went up the middle before cutting to his right for a 17-yard TD.
10:23 - Karris Davis, who had just six rushes in the team's first five games, scored on a 6-yard rush. The PAT was missed leaving Sacramento State with a 21-13 lead.
7:13 - Davis found the end zone for a second time on a 22-yard rush. He shed three would-be tacklers during the run and broke through on the left side of the end zone.
2:38 - Southern Utah broke out its own version of the "Philly Special" to take its first lead. The T-Birds handed the ball off to their running back who then pitched to receiver Lance Lawson on an end around. Lawon then lofted the ball to a wide open Austin Ewing (who started the play at quarterback).
0:01 - Sacramento State drove down the field on the final drive of the half. The Hornets moved the ball to the SUU 5-yard line with 5 seconds left before having to bring on Devon Medeiros for a 22-yard field goal.
9:55 - Southern Utah took the opening drive and used 12 plays and 5 minutes to travel 63 yards for a touchdown. The Hornets earned their first third down stop of the game during the series but the T-Birds converted on 4th-and-1 to keep the series alive. Jay Green ended the drive with a 4-yard rush.
0:16 - Sacramento State held SUU to a three-and-out for the second straight possession, however, the ensuing punt was ruled by replay review to have bounced off a Hornet during coverage. Southern Utah then needed just five plays to find the end zone for the sixth time. The Thunderbirds used a wide receiver pass during the drive and then had Ewing score from 8-yards out in a wildcat formation.
11:59 - The Hornets posted their first points of the second half on a 22-yard field goal from Medeiros. The kick marked the third consecutive game in which Medeiros has made two field goals. Johnnie Rucker highlighted the drive with third-down catches of 17 and 32 yards.
10:59 - Southern Utah continued to dial up the right calls on the next drive. Facing 3rd-and-10, the T-Birds dumped the ball off to Jay Green who turned it into a 45-yard gain. Green then ended the series with an 11-yard rush for his second TD of the game.