FOOTBALL FALLS TO EASTERN WASHINGTON, 38-30, DESPITE CAREER DAY FROM SEVERAL PLAYERS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Despite record-setting performances from Jason Smith, Mike Brannon, Tony Washington and Torrell Baker, the Sacramento State football team could not overcome its own mistakes in a 38-30 loss to Eastern Washington on Saturday at Hornet Stadium.
The loss dropped the Hornets to 1-7 overall and 1-5 in Big Sky Conference games. The Eagles improved to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in conference action.
Aaron Boyce’s second touchdown of the second half put Eastern Washington on top 31-10 with 6:59 to play in the third quarter. From the point, Sacramento State used just one play to trim its deficit as Jason Smith connected with Tony Washington for a 50-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline.
Washington scored his second touchdown 90 seconds into the fourth quarter on a 13-yard pass from Smith to pull the Hornets within seven, 31-24. EWU answered back on its next drive when Dale Morris rushed up the middle for an 18-yard run. The Eagles’ drive was aided by two roughing the passer penalties against Sacramento State, including one that gave the team a first down after the Hornets had recorded a stop on third down.
Down 38-24, Sacramento State began its drive on the 35-yard line after the kickoff went out of bounds. Following a 3-yard rush by Travon Jones, Smith connected with Ryan Coogler at the EWU 30-yard line and Coogler broke free from a tackle and scored a 62-yard touchdown.
The Hornets continued their momentum by recovering a fumble on a loose snap during the ensuing drive. Freshman Bryan Hilliard rushed three times to take the ball to the 1-yard line but Cyrus Mulitalo was stopped on 4th-and-goal by Anthony Dotson and Bryan Jarrett.
The Hornet defense recorded a stop and provided the team one more chance to tie the game. However, Coogler had the ball jarred free by Ira Jarmon at the Eagles’ 33-yard line to put the game out of reach.
Sacramento State led 10-3 after the first quarter with the help of a 40-yard field goal from Juan Gamboa and a 1-yard run from Mulitalo. Those two scores were sandwiched around a 13-yard pass from Matt Nichols to Brynsen Brown.
Eastern Washington took the lead for good in the second quarter when Nicholas Ramos scored on an 8-yard run. Felipe Macias contributed a 38-yard field goal to make the score 17-10 at halftime.
Smith recorded the second most passing yards in school history, matching Marcel Marquez’ effort last season at Idaho State. The freshman threw for 396 yards and completed 29-of-41 passes for three touchdowns, but was also intercepted once. His total was just 10 yards away from the school record of 406 held by Tony Corbin. Prior to the game, Smith had never thrown for more than 241 yards.
Washington and Baker also benefited from Smith’s big day. Washington tallied a career high nine catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He entered the game with seven catches on the year for 161 yards. Baker, who had not caught a pass since Sept. 29, and had only four receptions on the season, grabbed seven balls for 95 yards.
Defensively, Brannon led the way for the Hornets. The junior linebacker tied Tyson Butler’s school record with 3.5 sacks and finished the game with a career best 16 total tackles. His 11 solo stops and 4.5 tackles-for-loss also set personal marks.
Nichols was very efficient running the EWU offense. The sophomore was 20-of-29 through the air for 328 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He also picked up a couple of key first downs on the ground while fleeing the Hornet defense. Boyce ended the day with eight receptions for 177 yards and Morris led all players with 92 rushing yards.
Sacramento State will remain at home next weekend for its only back-to-back homestand of the year. The Hornets will take on UC Davis on Sat., Nov. 3, at 2:05 p.m. in the 54th-Annual Causeway Classic presented by Pepsi. Tickets for the game can be purchased by calling the Sacramento State Box Office at (916) 278-4323.
NOTES: The Hornets committed four turnovers against EWU and are now minus-11 on the season despite beginning the year plus-3 at Fresno State…the team set season highs for pass completions, passing yards and total yards…EWU improved to 9-0 all-time in games played at Hornet Stadium…Sacramento State was whistled for a 10 penalties for a season high 119 yards…EWU was flagged 10 times for 112 yards…Ryan Coogler moved into fourth place in school history with 106 career receptions…he is now seven catches shy of Mike Carter for third place…Mike Brannon also blocked a punt in the third quarter, the first by a Sacramento State player this season…Juan Gamboa missed a PAT in the fourth quarter snapping his streak of 15 consecutive.