FOOTBALL PLAYS FINAL HOME GAME AGAINST NO. 3 MONTANA STATE ON SATURDAY
A BRIEF PREVIEW
Winners of four of its last five games, the Sacramento State football team will play its final home game of the year on Saturday, Nov. 3, when it faces No. 3 Montana State at Hornet Stadium at 4 p.m.
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 be televised by ROOT Sports as part of the Big Sky Game of the Week. The game can be seen by anyone who has the regional sports package through their cable or satellite provider. DirecTV subscribers can see the game as part of their normal subscription on channel 239-1. Rich Burk will provide the play-by-play along with Jason Stiles (color) and Jen Mueller (sideline). As part of the agreement with ROOT Sports, this week’s game will not be on BigSkyTV.org.
Sacramento State improved to 6-3 on the year and 4-2 in Big Sky Conference games with a 35-29 win over then-No. 11 Cal Poly. The Hornets overcame an early 10-0 deficit to score 21-unaswered points and never trailed for the remainder of the game. Quarterback Garrett Safron earned conference and national honors after completing 31-of-38 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. The Hornet defense was able to slow down the Mustangs’ high-powered rushing attack and had three players finish with 10-plus tackles.
Montana State (7-1, 4-1) dominated North Dakota, 55-10, in its most recent action. The Bobcats set a school record with 695 yards of total offense, including 436 on the ground. Cody Kirk (160) and Orenzo Davis (145) each rushed for over 100 yards and DeNarius McGhee passed for 259 yards with three touchdowns.
MSU enters this week ranked third in the Football Championship Subdivision in rush defense (63.9) and is sixth in total defense (285.8). The Bobcats also lead the Big Sky in third-down conversions (57.5 percent) and third-down conversion defense (27.4).
Montana State leads the all-time series, 14-6, including winning the last seven meetings. The Hornets and Bobcats first met in the 1964 Camellia Bowl at Hughes Stadium where MSU prevailed 28-7. Sacramento State recorded three wins in the early 1990s over Montana State but are just 3-13 in Big Sky games.
• Prior to the start of Saturday’s game, Sacramento State will honor 13 seniors who will be playing their final home game.
• Included among the group are eight players who have spent their entire college career with the Green & Gold. Linebacker Jeff Badger, defensive tackle Matt Lawrence, safety Ryan McMahon and center Clay DePauw have each started 20-plus games for the Hornets during their careers.
• Below is a list of each senior:
||Las Vegas, Nev.
||East Palo Alto, Calif.
||Red Bluff, Calif.
||San Leandro, Calif.
||Crows Landing, Calif.
SAFRON NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Sacramento State quarterback Garrett Safron was named the ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference co-Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against No. 11 Cal Poly. The honor is the second this season for Safron who also won the award following the team’s win at Colorado.
• Against Cal Poly, Safron completed 31-of-38 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. The sophomore set career marks for completions, attempts and touchdowns in the game as the Hornets improved to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in Big Sky play.
• Safron’s completions are tied for third in school single-game history and were the most since Jason Smith also completed 31 passes against Montana in 2009. His four touchdown passes also rank third in school history and were the most since Jeff Fleming had five TD passes against Montana State in 2010.
• Safron was also recognized as the National Performer of the Week and the Quarterback of the Week by College Football Performance Awards.
• After not facing a ranked opponent for the first seven weeks of the season, Sacramento State will meet its third in as many weeks. The Hornets’ first game against a ranked team came on Oct. 20 when they played at No. 1 ranked Eastern Washington. On Oct. 27, the Hornets handed then No. 11 Cal Poly its first loss of the season with a 35-29 victory. This week, No. 3 Montana State visits Hornet Stadium.
• The game marks the 15th time in school history that Sacramento State will play consecutive games against teams in the FCS top 25 and the sixth time the Hornets have played three in a row.
• Since joining the FCS in 1993, Sacramento State has played 56 games against ranked teams. The highest ranked opponent to fall to the Hornets was Northern Arizona which was ranked eighth in 2002.
• Sacramento State has won four of its last five home games against ranked foes dating back to 2009. That streak includes last season’s 42-28 win over No. 10 Montana and last week’s victory over No. 11 Cal Poly.
TAKE A TURN
• This season, Sacramento State has had four different players lead the team in rushing. Junior Ezekiel Graham has had the highest total in five of the nine games. Freshman De’jon Coleman has led the team in two while Safron and A.J. Ellis each had the high mark in one game.
• Overall, Graham remains the team’s leading rusher with 693 yards and four touchdowns on 141 carries. Safron ranks second with 344 yards, including a pair of touchdowns.
• Coleman has 186 yards on the year with most of them coming over the last three games. His stretch began against Weber State where he had a team-high 74 yards on 13 carries. After being limited to 11 yards at Eastern Washington, the true freshman tallied 70 yards on eight attempts against Cal Poly.
• Coleman has shown the skill of putting teams away late in games. Against both Weber State and Cal Poly he picked up big first downs during the final drive. Most recently, he gained 19 yards on 3rd-and-9 with just under two minutes to play.
• Cal Poly’s heavy emphasis on the run game led to several group tackles and high numbers for the Hornet defenders. Sacramento State combined for 110 stops on the Mustangs’ 78 plays. Leading the charge was junior linebacker who tallied 14 total tackles. Markell Williams and Ryan McMahon also cracked double digits with 12 tackles each.
• Davis now has 11 career games with 10-plus tackles, including five this season. His performance against the Mustangs marked his career high. The Palmdale, Calif., native has 206 career tackles which jumps him to 12th in school history and places him just six tackles out of the top 10.
• Williams’ total easily eclipsed his previous career high of nine. He also matched his career best with six solo stops. The Vacaville, Calif., native also had a half sack among his total.
• McMahon raised his career total to 170 tackles. That mark ties him with former All-American Zack Nash for 21st in school history. Last season, McMahon’s first with the team, he had 86 stops. This year, he ranks second on the tam with 84 tackles. Against Cal Poly, McMahon also had a fumble recovery and broke up a would-be touchdown with a jarring hit in the end zone.
• The other consistent statistical leader on defense is linebacker Jeff Badger. The senior had eight tackles against Cal Poly and is now tied for 15th in program history with 195 stops. Badger leads the team this season with three forced fumbles and also has two interceptions.
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.
BIG SKY NOTES
• The Big Sky Conference ROOT SPORTS Offensive Players of the Week were Safron and Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen who threw for 396 yards in a win over Eastern Washington.
• Portland State linebacker Ian Sluss earned the defensive award after intercepting two passes and recovering two fumbles against UC Davis.
• Southern Utah kicker Colton Cook was the special teams selection with three field goals, including the game winner with three seconds remaining.