FOOTBALL RETURNS TO SOUTHERN UTAH FOR BIG SKY MATCHUP
A BRIEF PREVIEW
With its offense back in sync following a 54-31 win at Idaho State, Sacramento State will continue its road tour of the West, traveling to Cedar City, Utah, to take on Southern Utah on Saturday, Oct. 6. The game will kickoff from the newly re-turfed Eccles Coliseum at 12 p.m. PDT.
After not playing at Southern Utah from 1994-2010, Saturday will mark the second time in as many seasons that the Hornets will face the Thunderbirds on the road. Last season, SUU upended Sacramento State, 35-14, in the second week of the season. The loss came on the heels of the Hornets’ win at Oregon State. This year’s matchup will be the first in the Big Sky for the two teams but they were both previously members of the Western Football Conference (1986-92) and America West Conference (1993-95).
There will be multiple ways to follow this week’s game. Hornet fans can tune in to Classic 93.1 FM and KAHI 950 AM in the foothills 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 iHeart Radio application for mobile devices.
The game will not be televised but can be seen online via bigskytv.org. The broadcasts are free to watch but fans must create a username and password prior to the start of the game.
Sacramento State improved to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Sky play with a convincing win at Idaho State. The Hornets pulled away from a 27-23 halftime lead to score the first 20 points of the second half. The point total was the highest scored by the team since posting 61 against Montana State in 2010. The Hornets also rushed for 349 yards and amassed 551 yards of total offense.
Southern Utah (2-3, 1-1) most recently fell to No. 2 Montana State, 24-17. The Thunderbirds had an opportunity to win the game but were stopped as time expired near the 20-yard line. Quarterback Brad Sorensen, who was the preseason Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year, threw for 250 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
One connection between the two teams is current Sacramento State offensive coordinator Paul Peterson who served as the T-Birds quarterbacks and receivers coach the past four seasons.
The all-time series is tied 6-6 with each team owning a 4-2 record at home. Sacramento State’s last win in Cedar City came in 1994 (27-16).
• Sacramento State is looking to open Big Sky play 2-1 for the first time since 2009.
• The Hornets last won back-to-back road games in 2008 with wins at Eastern Washington and UC Davis.
• Nine different Sacramento State players have scored touchdowns this season.
• For the second time this season, Edgar Castaneda has been selected as the ROOT SPORTS Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.
• The junior most recently earned the honor after making a career-high four field goals and six extra points in the team’s 54-31 win at Idaho State. Castaneda converted on field goals of 41 and 25 yards in the second quarter and 38 and 50 yards in the fourth quarter. His four made field goals tied the school single-game record which was held by Chris Diniz and Bret LeVier. Diniz made four at Montana in 2010 while LeVier hit four against Weber State in 2002.
• Castaneda’s 50-yarder in the fourth quarter tied him for the fifth-longest by a Hornet and was his career best at any level. Only four Hornets have been successful from 50-yards or more led by Scott Brown’s 53-yarder against Eastern Washington in 1998. Brown also hit from 52, Diniz was successful from 52, 52, and 50 and LeVier made a 50-yarder.
• Castaneda was also recognized as the FSC Placekicker of the Week by College Football Performance Awards.
• Earlier this year, the Alameda, Calif., native earned national notoriety after making a game-winning field goal as time expired against Colorado. Following the game, Sperbeck awarded Castaneda a partial scholarship which resulted in a story that was posted on Yahoo!; ESPN.com and CNNSI.com
• This season, Castaneda has made 9-of-11 field goals and leads the team with 42 points. He needs one more field goal to crack the school single-season top 10 and is only five away from the school record of 14 which is currently held by Brown (1999) and LeVier (2002).
• One week after recording his first career 100-yard game, Ezekiel Graham crossed the century mark at Idaho State — and this time he had company. Graham rushed for 158 yards and A.J. Ellis added 118 yards to become the first Hornet pair to each go over the 100-yard mark since Evander Wilkins (161) and Jake Croxdale (109) did it against Southern Oregon in 2008.
• Graham and Ellis became just the fourth Hornet duo to each rush for 100 yards in the Div. I-AA/FCS era. However, they are only the second pair to perform the feat against a Div. I opponent.
• The highest combined total by a pair of 100-yard rushers during that span came in 2007 where Bryan Hilliard rushed for 168 yards and Travon Jones added 130 against Northern Colorado.
• Graham became the first Hornet to rush for consecutive 100-yard games since Bryan Hilliard had a six-game stretch in 2010.
• Ellis became the 33rd Sacramento State player to have a 100-yard game and is the fourth member of this years team, joining Graham (2 games), Sam McCowan (1) and Garrett Safron (1).
• Ellis surpassed the mark with just his first and last carry of the game. In the first quarter, he had a 43-yard rush which led to a Hornet TD. He sealed the game with a 62-yard touchdown run with 2:49 left in the fourth.
• While the game marked Ellis’ high as a Hornet, his collegiate best came while as a member of Fresno State where he rushed for 165 yards against Utah State in 2010.
• Graham and Ellis were not the only Hornets who had success on the ground against Idaho State. The team finished the game with 349 yards and had contributions from Safron (42 yards), De’Jon Coleman (23) and McCowan (8).
• The total ranks as the fourth-best in school history but is the highest away from home and the most by a Sacramento State team that did not include All-American Charles Roberts.
• The school record of 470 was set against Idaho State in 1999 in the game where Roberts rushed for a then-NCAA record 409 yards. The team also had 366 rushing yards against Montana State that same season and posted 392 vs. Cal Poly in 2000.
• Historically, the Hornets have enjoyed moving the ball against ISU as three of the top six single-game rushing totals have come against the Bengals.
• True freshman De’Jon Coleman has patiently waited his turn during the first four games of the year. The Los Angeles native received his first collegiate touch in the first quarter against Idaho State and immediately darted up the middle of the field for an 18-yard touchdown.
• Coleman appeared to score a second touchdown on his next attempt but it was called back to due a penalty.
• Coleman is no stranger to the end zone, having set the Los Angeles City Section record with 47 touchdowns as a senior.
THAT GOT OUT OF HAND QUICKLY
• The first half of the game at Idaho State featured 50 combined points and 646 yards of total offense.
• Included in the half were eight plays of at least 25 yards and a pair of turnovers.
• There were 18 drives in the opening two quarters which ended with six touchdowns, five punts, three field goals, a missed field goal, an interception and a fumble.
• The Hornet defense responded in the second half, limiting Idaho State to just 62 yards on its first 27 plays.
• Sacramento State ended the game scoring on five of its final six drives, consisting of three touchdowns and two field goals.
• The 54 points scored by the Hornets are the 10th most in school history and most ever in a road game. The previous record away from home of 49 was set at San Francisco State in 1993 and later matched at Weber State in 1999.
• The most points scored by a Sacramento State team under Sperbeck is 61 which came in an overtime loss to Montana State (64-61). All of those 61 points came in regulation.
• A week after holding North Dakota’s highly-touted passing attack to 147 yards, Sacramento State surrendered 534 at Idaho State. The 534 yards is believed to be the most ever allowed by the Hornets, breaking Montana State’s mark of 516 from 2004.
• The defense did hold the Bengals to minus-2 rushing yards, marking the third time since 2008 that an opponent has finished with a negative number. That performance came just seven days after North Dakota rushed for 294 yards.
• One other major discrepancy between the two games came in penalties. Against UND, Sacramento State was flagged five times for 38 yards. At ISU, the Hornets were called for 14 infractions for 127 yards — both season highs.
• For the second consecutive week, Todd Davis recorded double digit tackles, finishing the Idaho State game with 11 stops, including two for loss.
• Davis has now amassed 24 tackles over the last two games and leads the team with 50 stops on the year. His career total of 167 places him in a tie for 20th place in school history along with linebacker Shane Scott (1997-98). He needs just four tackles to move past former All-American Zack Nash (2008-11) and 13 to tie Tommy Williams (1997-00).
• Senior safety Ryan McMahon had his streak of 10-plus tackle games stopped at two when he was held to seven against the Bengals. McMahon, who ranks second on the team with 45 tackles, did had two tackles-for-loss, a sack and three pass breakups.
• The Sacramento State offensive line posted its second clean sheet of the season, holding Idaho State without a sack. The unit previously blanked Northern Colorado.
• This season, the Hornets have allowed just five sacks in five games for a total of 47 yards. The average of 1.00 sacks allowed per game is tied for the 13th best in the FCS this season.
• Among schools who have averaged at least 33.0 pass attempts per game, Sacramento State is tied for fourth in the FCS.
• Among the five sacks allowed have been two situations where the quarterback has not been hit. The first came at New Mexico State where the ball fell out of Safron’s hand while attempting a pass. The ball was recovered by the Aggies resulting in a sack and fumble. At Colorado, Safron was called for intentional grounding which is also credited as a sack.
• The Hornets have played just six offensive linemen all year. Vince Weaver (left guard), Devonte Martin (left tackle), Clay DePauw (center) and Tyler Worthley (right guard) have started both games. At right tackle, sophomore Lars Hanson started at NMSU and redshirt freshman Aleksandar Milanovic earned the start at Colorado.
COACHES LUNCHEONS RETURN
• The Hornet Club Football Luncheons will return on Monday, Sept. 10, at Buca di Beppo on Howe and Hurley. The luncheons will feature head coach Marshall Sperbeck as well as a student-athlete and will take place from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
• The luncheons will take place each Monday throughout the season.
• For $10 patrons will receive salad, entree, bread, desert and drink.
HORNET FOOTBALL WEEKLY
• Hornet Football Weekly will air every Thursday at 7 p.m. on Comcast channel 104 and repeat on Saturdays at noon. Each week host Jason Ross will be joined by head coach Marshall Sperbeck, a player and an athletic department guest.