FOOTBALL CLAWS WAY TO 28-17 VICTORY OVER NORTHERN COLORADO
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It may of lacked the glitz and drama of the win at Colorado, but Sacramento State walked off the field victorious for the second time in as many weeks, defeating Northern Colorado, 28-17, on Saturday afternoon at Hornet Stadium.
The Hornets improved to 2-1 on the season and stayed unbeaten against the Bears (1-2) in seven meetings. Sacramento State also recorded its best start without a non-Div. I opponent on the schedule since 2001.
Morris Norrise caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Safron on the Hornets' first offensive play of the game. The touchdown was the first for Norrise since 2010 when he scored eight. The score was setup by one of four NC turnovers during the game.
Northern Colorado answered back with a career-long 46-yard field goal from Dave Eden and took its only lead of the game on a 74-yard punt return from Dominic Gunn early in the second quarter.
The Hornets retook the lead with 5:56 left in the first half when Sam McCowan pushed the line forward for a 6-yard touchdown. The drive featured two personal fouls against the Bears which led to automatic first downs. During the game, NC was penalized 11 times for 117 yards.
DeAndre Carter scored the game's only third quarter points with a catch in the back of the end zone from 14-yards out. Carter ran straight through the middle of the end zone, made the grab and got his toes down before nearly hitting the post of the uprights. The touchdown marked the third straight game in which the sophomore had found the end zone.
The Hornets added to their lead with 12:11 to play in the game with a 2-yard run from junior Ezekiel Graham to make the score 28-10 before Tromaine Dennis answered with a 1-yard TD with 8:11 remaining.
The touchdown was the first allowed by the Hornet defense against Northern Colorado since 2010 when the Bears scored with 27 seconds left in the first half — a streak which lasted 123 minutes.
Overall, the Bears were able to outgain Sacramento State 399-341. Quarterback Seth Lobato threw for 327 yards while completing 30-of-54 passes but was intercepted three times. The Hornets received picks from Osagie Odiase, Robert Beale and Ryan McMahon.
Safron snapped his streak of consecutive 300-yard games by going 16-of-30 for 177 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an interception on a pass which was juggled by a Hornet receiver before being grabbed out of mid-air.
Graham led the rushing attack with 21 carries for 98 yards and McCowan added 35.
Three Sacramento State defenders finished with double-digit tackles, led by a career-high 11 from Odiase. McMahon and linebacker Jeff Badger each contributed 10 stops for a defense which tallied seven tackles-for-loss, including a pair of sacks.
The Hornets will open Big Sky Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 22, against North Dakota at 6 p.m. at Hornet Stadium. The game will mark the first Big Sky game for UND and the first meeting between the two schools since 1979.
NOTES: Gunn's punt return for a touchdown was the first allowed by Sacramento State since Tim Toone of Weber State traveled 95 yards on Oct. 17, 2009…the Hornets were flagged nine times for 82 yards…seven Hornets have scored a touchdown this season in just three games…junior Justin Weldon took over the punting duties in the first half and averaged 52.8 yards on four punts with a long of 68…the 68-yarder is the fifth-longest in school history.