FOOTBALL PLAYS FINAL ROAD GAME OF THE SEASON AT NORTHERN COLORADO ON SATURDAY
Sacramento State returns to Big Sky Conference play with a trip to Northern Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 10. The game against the Bears will mark the first time that the Hornets have played a football game in Greeley, Colo. Kickoff from Nottingham Field is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. PST.
The contest can be heard locally on KSAC 1240 AM with Jason Ross handling the play-by-play and Steve McElroy adding the color commentary. For those outside the greater Sacramento area, the game will also be available on the internet at www.hornetsports.com and on KSAC’s website (www.1240talkcity.com).
The Hornets enter the week with a 1-8 overall record and a 1-5 Big Sky Conference mark. The team is coming off a 31-26 loss to UC Davis in the 54th-Annual Causeway Classic. Against the Aggies, Sacramento State fell behind 16-0 in the second quarter. The Hornets were able to pull within a score in the third quarter but was never able to take the lead. Freshman running back Bryan Hilliard rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for the offense.
Northern Colorado fell to 1-9 overall and 1-5 in league play with a 17-7 loss at Eastern Washington. The Bears held an early lead but EWU rallied in to take the lead despite having their high-powered offense held in check.
Saturday’s game will pit two of the best Big Sky linebackers against one another. Sacramento State will be led by junior Cyrus Mulitalo. The middle linebacker recorded a career high 21 stops against NC last season and leads the team with 83 tackles in 2007. Northern Colorado has been sparked by senior Cristian Sarmento. After leading the team last season with 81 tackles, Sarmento is one of the national leaders with 122 tackles this year. Last week, he recorded 20 stops against Eastern Washington.
The series with Northern Colorado is the shortest for Sacramento State against any Big Sky school. The Bears joined the league last season and were handed a 14-9 loss by the Hornets in the first meeting in school history.
• Freshman running back Bryan Hilliard recorded his second 100-yard game of the season with 105 yards and two touchdowns against UC Davis. Hilliard also became the first Hornet to rush for two scores in a game this year.
• Sacramento State compiled more yards, had more time of possession and limited UC Davis to 3-of-17 on third and fourth down conversions in the loss.
• The Hornets will debut at Nottingham Field this Saturday marking the third new stadium for the team this season. Sacramento State also played at Bulldog Stadium (FS) and University Stadium (UNM) for the first time.
A Look at the Hornets
The running back tandem of Bryan Hilliard and Travon Jones entered elite company on Saturday. The pair became only the third duo in school history, and the first since 1985, to each record multiple 100-yard games in a season.
Hilliard, who rushed for 100 yards against Northern Arizona, led the team with 105 yards vs. UC Davis. Jones crossed the century mark for the first time at Portland State where he compiled 117 yards and later rushed for 141 at Montana State.
The last pair of backs to perform the feat were Donald Hair and Rob Harrison in 1985. That season, Hair had six 100-yard games while Harrison had four.
In 1983, John Farley recorded three 100-yard games and Dennis Taylor had two.
Hilliard and Jones (92) were also very close against the Aggies to becoming the first pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game since Arie Joseph and Pedro Lewis rushed for 172 and 161 yards, respectively, against Cal State Hayward.
Let if Fly
One week after throwing for a career high 396 yards against Eastern Washington, freshman Jason Smith was active again through the air. The walk-on quarterback attempted 52 passes against UC Davis which ranks second in school history.
Smith also became the first QB in school history to record two 50-plus pass games in the same season. Earlier this year, he had 50 attempts in a loss to Montana.
Against UCD, Smith completed 23 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown. However, he was also intercepted three times by the Aggies, including twice in the fourth quarter.
One week ago, Smith nearly moved to the top of the Hornet record book with his best passing performance of his short career. The Brentwood, Calif., native completed 29-of-41 passes for 396 yards and three touchdown. The completions, yardage and touchdowns all set career highs.
Not only did Smith record his first 300-yard passing game, his yardage total tied Marcel Marquez for second place in school history. (Marquez’s effort came last season at Idaho State). His total was also just 10 yards shy of Tony Corbin’s mark of 40 which came against Saint Mary’s on Nov. 4, 1995.
Over the last two games, Smith has thrown for 662 yards and four touchdowns. He enters this week game needing 442 yards to crack the top 10 in single season passing yards in school history. He is also on pace to record top 10 single season marks in attempts and completions.
Where’s He Been?
Senior Tyler Fanucchi came to Sacramento State in 2005 after spending two seasons at the University of Iowa. During his first campaign with the Hornets, he caught six passes for 72 yards. Last season, he grabbed five receptions for 91 yards.
Against Davis, Fanucchi matched his career season high for receptions and nearly toppled his yardage mark after catching six balls for 82 yards. The Claremont, Calif., native also found the end zone for the first time during his career on a 20-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. That TD was the first by the Hornets during the game and pulled Sacramento State within six (10-6).
Over the past 54 years there have been numerous memorable plays in the Causeway Classic. However, recording multiple safeties in the game appears to be a new phenomenon.
Last Saturday, each team scored two points in the game. Davis struck first when defensive end James Amos took down Hilliard in the end zone early in the second quarter.
The Hornets recorded their safety on the first play of the fourth quarter when Aggie punter Emmanuel Benjamin kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone after the snap sailed over his head.
Sacramento State had not allowed a safety since UCD tackled a rusher in the end zone in 2005. The last Hornet safety also came in 2005 when Matt Logue and Mason Mitchell combined to tackle a Montana State running back in the end zone on Nov. 5.
The Jackson Six
Defensive end Blaine Jackson matched his career high with six tackles against UC Davis. Jackson finished the game with three solo stops and three assists. His total also included a team-high 2.5 tackles-for-loss, a half sack and a forced fumble.
Now in his second year with the team after transferring from Palomar JC, Jackson has made a huge jump from his junior season. In 2006, he appeared in all 11 games but tallied just 10 tackles, including 1.5 TFLs. After earning the starting job at DE in the spring, the senior has responded with 36 tackles through the first nine games. Jackson also ranks third on the team with 9.0 tackles-for-loss and is fifth with 2.5 sacks.
This year, he has recorded six tackles against Northern Arizona, Montana and UC Davis for his career high.
The New Favorite
Throughout the year, Smith seems to have had a favorite target in each game. However, what makes things unique, is the fact that the Hornets have yet to determine a go-to guy. Early on the in the year, Ryan Coogler and Dylan Lane appeared to be Smith primary receivers.
In the last three weeks, Tony Washington has moved into the spotlight. Washington caught a career high three passes for 71 yards (then a career high) at Montana State. He followed that effort with nine grabs for 146 yards and two touchdowns against EWU before leading the team with seven catches for 42 yards against UC Davis.
The nine receptions vs. EWU were not only a career high for Washington, they rank seventh in school history and were the most by a Hornet since Fred Amey caught 15 passes at Eastern Washington on Oct. 30, 2004.
While his yardage total against UC Davis was not his highest, Washington delighted the fans with his moves on a 4th-and-2 reception in the fourth quarter. On the play, he caught the ball at the line of scrimmage and appeared to be stopped for a loss. However, he broke free from the initial tackler and eluded two other defenders before gaining the necessary yardage to keep the drive alive. He also showed his speed in the second quarter chasing down Adam Cook at the goal line during his 87-yard interception return. Washington jarred the ball away from Cook during the tackle but Cook was ruled to have entered the end zone.
Washington now ranks second on the team with 26 receptions and trails only Ryan Coogler (35). His 349 yards and 13.4 yards per reception also rank second on the squad.
A Look at the Bears
• Northern Colorado defeated Montana State, 16-13, on Oct. 27 for its lone win of the year. The Bears also led at Eastern Washington last week before falling 17-7.
• Senior Dominic Breazeale leads the team with 1,001 passing yards and four interceptions. However, he also has six interceptions. Junior Mike Vlahogeorge has also seen time at QB where he is 66-of-127 for three TDs and an interception.
• Tight end Ryan Chesla (33) and receivers Andy Birkel (33) and Cory Fauver (31) have all caught at last 30 passes this season. Chesla leads the team with 390 yards and four touchdowns.
Big Sky Notes
• The Big Sky selected Weber State running back Trevyn Smith as the Offensive Player of the Week. Smith had five TDs and 235 all-purpose yards in the 52-37 win over Idaho State.
Sarmento was the defensive POW after recording 20 tackles in Northern Colorado’s 17-7 loss at Eastern Washington.
Northern Arizona’s Cyrus Igono was the Special Teams POW after blocking two punts in a 29-14 win over Montana State.