FOOTBALL KNOCKS OFF SOUTHERN UTAH, WINS THIRD STRAIGHT ROAD GAME
Linebacker Jeff Badger finished with 12 tackles, including a sack and the game-clinching interception
CEDAR CITY, Utah — Jeff Badger’s interception with 1:45 to play sealed Sacramento State’s 27-22 victory at Southern Utah on Saturday at Eccles Stadium.
Holding a five-point lead, Thunderbird quarterback Brad Sorensen dropped back to pass on third down and had his arm hit by Jaycee Totty. The ball squirted forward and was grabbed by Badger out of midair.
With the win, Sacramento State improved to 4-2 on the year and 2-1 in the Big Sky Conference. Southern Utah fell to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in league play. The win also gave the Hornets three consecutive road wins for the first time since 1991. Sacramento State won on the road over Idaho State last week and Colorado on Sept. 8.
Trailing, 22-20, entering the fourth quarter, the Hornets regained the lead for good when A.J. Ellis scored on a 2-yard rush with 9:18 to play.
The Hornet defense responded, forcing the T-Birds to a pair of punts and the interception on their three fourth-quarter drives.
Both teams scored on their opening possession of the game. Southern Utah drove to the Hornet 15-yard line but was forced to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Colton Cook.
Sacramento State took its first lead with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a 23-yard pass from Garrett Safron to Morris Norrise. The senior recorded his third receiving touchdown of the season by grabbing the high arching pass and getting his right foot into the front corner of the end zone. During the drive, the team converted three third-down conversions, including the touchdown pass.
The Thunderbirds trimmed their deficit with an 18-yard field goal from Cook to start the second quarter. The team had 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line but moved backward on a fumbled snap and was stopped on two rushing attempts.
That score held until 53 seconds remained in the half when Sorensen connected with Griff McNabb for a 28-yard diving touchdown catch. The drive began at the SUU 5-yard line after McNabb mishandled a punt. Sorensen drove the team 95 yards on nine plays.
An interception by J.T. Anderson with 30 seconds remaining in the half led to a 43-yard field goal from Cook to give Southern Utah a 16-7 halftime lead.
Sacramento State scored on the third play of the third quarter when Safron rushed for a 69-yard touchdown. The rush was the longest of the sophomore’s career and was his first rushing touchdown this year.
The T-Birds answered with a TD of their own when Brian Wilson walked in from a yard out. The drive was sparked by a 43-yard screen pass to Henna Brown on the first play of the series. However, the PAT was missed wide right, leaving the score at 22-14 in favor of SUU.
The third-quarter shootout continued with Sacramento State marching 83 yards on 11 plays for its second TD of the quarter. Safron completed seven passes during the series and ended it with an 8-yard touchdown run. The Hornets attempted to tie the score with a two-point conversion but Safron’s pass attempt to Austin Dotson fell short in the right flat.
The Hornets amassed 350 yards of total offense with 158 coming on the ground and 192 in the air. Safron accounted for most of the offense, finishing the day 21-of-29 for 192 yards passing and also rushing for 97 yards on 12 carries. Senior T.J. Knowles and freshman Blake Robertson each had four catches to tie for the team lead.
Sorensen was 20-of-32 for 327 yards. Wilson rushed for a team-high 47 yards and Mitch Jessup caught six passes for 115 yards.
Badger led all players with 12 tackles. The senior had five solo stops, including a sack and an interception. Ryan McMahon added eight tackles and safety Dijon Washington contributed seven.
Sacramento State will return home to face Weber State for its Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 6:05 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.