A BRIEF PREVIEW
The first of two consecutive home games for the Sacramento State football team (2-4, 0-3 Big Sky) will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20, when the Hornets welcome North Dakota for their annual Homecoming game. The game will kick off at 6:05 p.m. from Hornet Stadium. The game will also feature a fireworks display as well as other campus wide activities including the golf cart parade at halftime.
This week's game will have an unusual circumstance as the game will count at a Big Sky Conference contest for Sacramento State but not for North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks, who were members of the Big Sky from 2012-17, left the league in July and are competing as an independent this year. The conference kept North Dakota on the predetermined schedule during its transition. UND will eventually be a member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
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.
This week's game will be televised locally on CW31 and streamed on Pluto.TV and WatchBigSky. Dave Lewis and Aaron Garcia return to call the action.
North Dakota leads the all-time series, 3-2. The two teams have split the four meetings during the Div. I era with the road team winning all four contests.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: NORTH DAKOTA
North Dakota improved to 4-2 overall with a 41-14 win at Montana last Saturday. The Fighting Hawks capitalized on three Griz turnovers in the first quarter for their second victory over a ranked opponent this season.
UND is quarterbacked by Nate Ketteringham who began his career at Sacramento State. Ketteringham ranks 11th in Hornet history with 3,391 yards in his two years. He also had 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions at Sacramento State. This year, he has completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 1,111 yards and 10 touchdowns and has also rushed for five.
The Fighting Hawks boast a trio of running backs who are all averaging at least 5.5 yards per carry. John Santiago leads the trio with 467 yards and has one TD. Brady Oliveira has 443 yards and three score and James Johannesson has 348 yards and a pair of TDs.
Bubba Schweigert is in his fifth year as the UND head coach. Schweigert spent 10 seasons as an assistant at North Dakota and was the defensive coordinator for a team which won the 2001 Div. II national title.
Sacramento State is 7-4 in its last 11 Homecoming games. The Hornets defeated Idaho State last year, 41-21.
Many departments on campus will have booths set up during the pregame sharing their efforts during the last year.
The annual golf cart float parade will take place at halftime as well as the announcement of the Homecoming royalty.
The game will also feature a fireworks show at the conclusion of halftime.
CAREER HIGHS FOR CLAPPER
Senior Wyatt Clapper set career highs in nearly every statistical category at Southern Utah. The quarterback was pressed into service after Kevin Thomson was injured in the first quarter and proceeded to lead the team on two scoring drives on his first two series.
Clapper finished the game completing 15-of-33 passes for 246 yards. He also rushed for 31 total yards and scored a touchdown. Clapper's first throw of the game went for a 41-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Williams on a 3rd-and-9 play which put the team on top, 14-7. He ended the first quarter with a 17 yard touchdown run to stretch the team's lead to 21-7.
Last year, Clapper played in four games and threw for 31 yards on 2-of-14 passing. He had played in two games this year, going 7-of-11 for 148 yards against Saint Francis and 1-of-2 for four yards at San Diego State.
His touchdown pass to Williams was the first of his career with the Hornets. He had previously rushed for a score against Incarnate Word last year.
Clapper came to the team from Modesto JC where he threw for 2,078 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore to earn all-Valley Conference. He led the team to a six-game winning streak to end the year and a berth in the NorCal semifinals.
BACK TO BACK FOR BARNES
Junior Caelan Barnes has recorded consecutive games with 10 tackles to lead the Hornet defense. Barnes had seven solos and three assists two weeks ago against Cal Poly before recording a career high nine solos and one assist at Southern Utah.
Prior to this season, Barnes' career high was seven tackles against Western Oregon as a freshman. He had nine tackles at San Diego State this year before breaking that mark.
The Sacramento native is now the team leader with 51 total tackles. That mark is just three stops short of his total from his first two years combined (26 in 2016 and 28 in 2017).
Fellow safety Allen Perryman also set a career high at SUU. Perryman had seven solo tackles against the T-Birds which easily surpassed his previous high of four which came a week earlier against Cal Poly.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
While all-Big Sky receivers Andre Lindsey and Jaelin Ratliff steal most of the headlines, Johnnie Rucker and Pierre Williams have quietly produced big numbers themselves.
Rucker tied for the team lead with five receptions and had a career high 93 receiving yards at Southern Utah. Those numbers rose his total to 14 receptions for 251 yards this season. The junior has also scored touchdowns against Northern Colorado and Cal Poly.
Rucker set career highs as a freshman in 2016 with 20 grabs for 301 yards. He had three touchdowns last season and two as a freshman.
Williams took over the team lead in receiving touchdowns when he scored on a 41-yard slant route. The redshirt freshman has three receiving TDs this year among his 14 receptions. He also ranks second on the team with 286 receiving yards. Williams is averaging 20.4 yards per catch and joins Ratliff and Lindsey as receivers who are averaging at least 20 yards per grab. His average placed him 15th in the FCS this year.
SO NICE, HE DID IT THRICE
Elijah Dotson took his consistent production to another level with his performance at Southern Utah. The sophomore recorded his third consecutive game with at least 100 yards and scored his eighth rushing touchdown of the year. Dotson finished the game against the T-Birds with 22 attempts for 149 yards — the exact totals he had the week prior against Cal Poly.
Beginning with the game at Montana, Dotson now has 532 rushing yards and five touchdowns in three games. Amazingly, he has only been stopped for six negative rushing yards during those games on 74 carries.
Dotson now ranks seventh in the FCS and second in the Big Sky with 122.5 rushing yards per game. He is also fourth nationally among backs with at least 100 attempts at 6.50 yards per carry. Dotson is also averaging 139.33 all-purpose yards per game which places him 14th in the FCS and second in the Big Sky.
The Sacramento native has done a lot of his damage with big plays. He capped the opening drive of the game with a 50-yard sprint up the center of the field for a touchdown. The score was his fourth of the year of at least 50 yards.
With five regular season games remaining, Dotson is already nearing several school single-season top 10 marks. He needs two more rushing touchdowns to crack the top 10 and 265 rushing yards to become the first Hornet to rush for 1,000 yards in a year since Bryan Hilliard in 2008 (1,082).
Dotson rushed for a career best 234 yards and three touchdowns at Montana. He became the first Hornet to go over 200 rushing yards in a game since Jordan Robinson had 262 against Portland State in Nov. 12, 2016. Overall, his 234 yards were the 16th most in school history.
He is the first Hornet to rush for over 100 yards in three consecutive games since Jordan Robinson who had four straight at the end of 2016. Overall, Dotson now has four career 100-yard games, making him the 14th player in program history to do so.
As a true freshman, he led Sacramento State with 1,107 all-purpose yards last season. He is again pacing the team with 836 yards through the initial six games of 2018.
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 seventh on the all-time list with 279 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 35 games of his career and has nine games with 10-plus stops.
Pearson now has 235 stops to rank 13th. 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.
AIRING IT OUT
Sacramento State currently ranks second in the FCS with 17.88 yards per reception. The team's roster boasts nine players who have a catch of at least 25 yards, including four with grabs over 50 yards.
Jaelin Ratliff leads the team, is second in the Big Sky and 11th in the FCS with an average of 20.86 yards per reception. Ratliff had a 77-yard touchdown catch and run at Montana and now has six catches of at least 27 yards this season. Ratliff also moved into sixth place in school history for career receiving yards. He needs just 106 more yards to pull into a tie for fourth place.
Andre Lindsey ranks 12th nationally at 20.77 yards per reception. The senior has also been a weapon on the ground with an average of 11.3 yards per carry.
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 11 100-yard games in their careers. However, they have yet to both go over the century mark in the same game.
Kevin Thomson was limited to just four pass attempts before exiting the game at Southern Utah. Thomson was 2-of-4 for 27 yards and also rushed for 16 yards in the first drive and a half for the Hornets. Despite the reduced action, he still remains the Big Sky leader and ranks fifth in the FCS with an efficiency of 162.8. Thomson has thrown for 1,253 yards this year with seven touchdowns and just one interception.
Thomson threw for a career high 322 yards against Cal Poly. The senior completed 19-of-37 passes and also had two touchdowns. The game was his second 300-yard effort of his career. He was intercepted once by the Mustangs, marking his first pick in over a year.
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).
BRUCE IS MIGHTY
Linebacker Marcus Bruce made his season debut for the team at Southern Utah. Bruce tied for second on the team with seven tackles and added a half tackle-for-loss. He had missed the first five games of the season after suffering a broken wrist in an automobile accident.
Last season, Bruce earned third team all-Big Sky honors after recording a career high 57 tackles. He had a pair of TFLs and also recovered four fumbles. The Bakersfield, Calif., native turned two of those into touchdowns as he had a 25-yard scoop and score at North Dakota and dove on a loose ball in the end zone at Cal Poly.
Bruce is one of many projected defensive starters to miss games this season joining George Obinna, Elijah Wallace, Killian Rosko, Dariyn Choates and Dre Terrell.
Devon Medeiros has made two field goals in three consecutive games and now has eight this season. His average of 1.33 per game places him 20th in the FCS and fourth in the Big Sky this season. Unfortunately, for the Hornet offense, three of Medeiros' last four makes have all been from 22 yards meaning Sacramento State has advanced the ball to the 5-yard line but has been unable to find the end zone.
Dating back to last season, Medeiros has made 16 of his last 21 field goal attempts (all three misses this season have been from 45 yards or further). His .824 field goal percentage from last season was tied for third best in a single season and his .727 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 (14) and recording the second most points by a kicker in program history.
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.
The Hornet roster features 30 players who prepped at high schools in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Among those 30 are five who graduated from Antelope HS. The groups is comprised of Harriel, Caelan Barnes, Elijah Dotson, Davaeon Johnson and Hazewood IV.
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.
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).
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