BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Sacramento State football team continued to make national noise with a 34-21 win at No. 6 Montana State on Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Stadium. The victory marked the highest ranked team ever defeated by the Hornets and was the first win in Bozeman since a 19-17 victory in 1991. Sacramento State also defeated a ranked FCS opponent for the second consecutive week following a 48-27 win against then-No. 22 Eastern Washington last week.
Sacramento State improved to 4-2 overall and started Big Sky Conference play 2-0 for just the second time in school history. Montana State dropped to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in league games.
"It's great to get that first road win for our staff," Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said. "That's a really good football team that we knew would be physical and they were even more physical than what showed on tape. We hung in there and were able to hold on."
The Hornets never trailed in the contest and rallied behind an offense which scored on five straight possessions and a defense which came up with big stops, including three on fourth down. Kevin Thomson threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns and also led the team with 74 rushing yards and two additional touchdowns. The team amassed 118 rushing yards and Thomson connected with eight receivers while not being sacked for the fourth time in six games. Elijah Dotson led the team with six receptions for 76 yards while Pierre Williams, Marshel Martin and BJ Perkinson each had touchdown grabs.
Defensively, the team had eight tackles-for-loss, including four sacks. Marcus Hawkins had eight total tackles to lead the team while Caelan Barnes and Josiah Erickson added seven. George Obinna continued to be disruptive in the backfield with three TFLs and two sacks.
Montana State dominated nearly every statistic in the first quarter but saw the score tied, 7-7, through the first 15 minutes. The Bobcats took the opening drive and moved deep into Hornet territory before George Obinna hit Tucker Rovig and the wobbly pass was intercepted by Miguel Garcia at the 8-yard line.
After Sacramento State was forced to punt, MSU gambled by going for it on fourth down from their own half of the field and Jeremy Harris dropped the ball carrier in the backfield to give the team great field position. The Hornets needed just three plays to take the lead when Thomson ran around the right edge for a 7-yard score.
The Bobcats tied the game on the next series when Travis Jonsen carried 17 yards to the left corner of the end zone. Jonsen also had a pivotal catch during the drive, gaining 12 yards on 3rd-and 11.
Sacramento State immediately answered with a 13-play, 75-yard drive to start the second quarter. The Hornets converted a pair of third downs during the series and had a 22-yard catch by Jarrell Anderson. Thomson capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak up the middle. The team stretched its lead to 21-7 on its next offensive series. The big play came on 4th-and-7 when Thomson hit Martin for a 21-yard gain. Williams ended the series with a 7-yard reception and dove across the goal line.
MSU stayed close with a 77-yard drive to end the first half. The Bobcats used a 46-yard catch and run from Jonsen to move the ball to the Hornet 24. After taking the ball to the 6-yard line, Montana State again went for it on fourth down where Troy Anderson rushed for a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining in the half.
Sacramento State stole momentum in the third quarter when Perkinson found himself wide open for a 6-yard touchdown catch to punctuate an 11-play drive. On the next offensive series, the team drove 94 yards on 10 plays. Martin got behind the defense and Thomson floated the ball over the last defender for a 26-yard score to give the team a 34-14 lead.
Montana State appeared to have one last charge after Tyrel Thomas intercepted Thomson in the end zone. The Bobcats drove to the Hornet 2 but were unable to score as Sacramento State stuffed four run attempts. The Hornet defense kept MSU off the scoreboard in the second half until the Bobcats punched one in with 1:41 remaining in the contest.
Sacramento State returns home to face Montana, which was ranked eighth in the FCS Top 25 this week, on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m.. The Grizzlies were idle this week and will enter Hornet Stadium with a 5-1 overall record and a 2-0 mark in league games.
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