SACRAMENTO, Calif. --- The 15th-ranked Sacramento State football team left little doubt and sent the largest crowd Hornet Stadium has seen in a decade home happy with a 49-22 Homecoming game victory over No. 5 Montana on Saturday night.
The victory over the Grizzlies marked the third time in as many weeks that the Hornets have defeated a ranked opponent. It also was the highest-ranked team downed by Sacramento State in the school's Div. I era, bettering last week's win at then-No. 6 Montana State. The Hornets are now 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big Sky Conference for the first time in history. The Grizzlies, who were coming off a bye, fell to 5-2 and are now 2-1 in league games.
"What a great environment tonight. There were a ton of people here and I'm happy our crowd got to experience that with us," Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said. "It's fun to watch theses guys play great in all three phases of the game. We weren't perfect, but we were resiliant and got a bit of a lead."
Kevin Thomson was again the catalyst for the Hornet offense. The junior completed 24-of-34 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for 50 yards and a pair of scores. Thomson has accounted for five touchdowns in each of the last three games and has thrown for three or more in all but one contest this season.
Pierre Williams got the team off to a quick start with 107 receiving yards in the first quarter and finishing the game with eight catches for 153 yards to set career highs in both categories. Elijah Dotson was also a weapon in the pass game with eight receptions for 124 yards as the duo each went over the century mark for the second time together this season. All four Hornet touchdown receptions were thrown to different players with Williams and Dotson joined by true freshman Parker Clayton and Andrew Hem. The 40-yard catch from Hem was his first collegiate reception and Clayton added a pair of highlight worthy catches.
Not to be outdone, the Sacramento State defense had six sacks and nine tackles-for-loss in the game. The unit was sparked by senior defensive tackle Dariyn Choates who had seven total tackles, including a career high four for loss with 2.5 sacks. George Obinna added 1.5 sacks and Jeremy Harris and Daron Bland each had a solo.
Montana took a quick lead when Jerry Louie-McGee got around the right side for a 64-yard rush on the opening drive to give the Griz a 7-0 advantage. From there, Sacramento State score 18 unanswered beginning with a 44-yard TD pass to Williams and a two-point conversion to Marshel Martin. Devon Medeiros added the first of two field goals and Thomson ran up the middle for a 7-yard score to help the Hornets to an 18-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Quarterback Dalton Sneed, who torched the Hornets for 440 yards of total offense a year ago, pulled Montana closer with a 19-yard touchdown run after breaking through a couple of tackles. Sacramento State, however, closed the half with Medeiros' second field goal, a 16-yard pass to Clayton and the strike to Hem down the middle of the field.
The Hornets began the second half with an 11-play drive which took 6:07 and was punctuated by a 2-yard sneak from Thomson. Both teams ended the scoring with fourth-down success. Montana was first with a 32-yard touchdown run from Marcus Knight on 4th-and-1. Thomson found Dotson for a 39-yard touchdown throw on 4th-and-6 with 14 seconds left in the third quarter.
Sacramento State, which remained undefeated against non-FBS teams, finished the game with 561 yards of total offense and averaged 6.8 yards per play. Montana finished with 391 yards while running 19 fewer plays than the Hornets and having the ball for just 21:03 compared to Sacramento State 38:57.
The Hornets will next travel to Cal Poly to take on the Mustangs on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Spanos Stadium. The game will begin at 5 p.m. and can be heard on ESPN 1320 or streamed on Pluto. TV.
- The crowd of 15,140 was the eighth largest in school history, the third largest non-Causeway Classic and the biggest since 2009.
- A week after committing just two penalties at Montana State, Sacramento State was flagged only once against Montana.
- The Hornets defeated three ranked opponents in a season for the first time in the school's FCS era.
- The 49 points were the most score by Sacramento State against Montana and the 27-point win was the largest for the team in the 22-game series.
- Montana's only other loss this season came at Oregon. The team was allowing 20.2 points per game in their five contests against FCS opponents.