FOOTBALL RUSHES TO 40-31 WIN OVER IDAHO STATE IN SEASON FINALE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Freshman Bryan Hilliard rushed for a career-high 243 yards and three touchdowns to help lead Sacramento State to a 41-30 win over Idaho State, Saturday afternoon at Hornet Stadium.
With the win, the Hornets end the year with a 3-8 overall record and a 3-5 mark in Big Sky Conference games. The Bengals dropped to 3-8 overall and 2-6 in league play.
For the second consecutive week, Sacramento State turned to its ground game. The Hornets, who compiled 312 rushing yards in the win at Northern Colorado last week, ran for 335 yards against ISU to record the fifth-best team total in the school’s Div. I-AA/FCS era.
Hilliard carried the majority of the load, rushing 38 times en route to his amazing effort. His total ranks ninth in school history and placed him just two yards off of Ryan Mole’s freshman record of 245. Hilliard also became the first Hornet to record three straight 100-yard games since Tyronne Gross pulled off the trifecta in 2003.
The Laguna Creek High School graduate put Sacramento State on the board with a 1-yard plunge during the first drive of the game. After Idaho State tied the score on a 2-yard run from Ken Cornist, Hilliard added his second touchdown of the game with another 1-yard run at the 2:38 mark of the first quarter. His third touchdown came late in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard scamper. That score made him the first Hornet to rush for three TDs in a game since Gross had three at Eastern Washington on Oct. 26, 2002.
Backfield mate Travon Jones did his best to stay up with Hilliard. Jones had his start to the game delayed due to an English test which didn’t allow him to arrive on the field until the final minute of the first quarter. He made up for lost time by scoring a touchdown on a 7-yard rush on his first carry of the game. The touchdown was his first of the season and put the team ahead, 21-14 with 12:42 left in the first half.
Jones finished the day with 80 yards on 14 carries and also added three receptions for 25 yards to give him 105 all-purpose yards. He also added a second touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard run.
Sacramento State’s other touchdown of the game came through the air when Jason Smith found Tyler Fanucchi for a 26-yard diving catch in the left corner of the end zone.
The Hornets never relinquished their lead following Jones’ second-quarter touchdown, The team eventually stretched its advantage to 35-17 following Jones’ second score. The two teams combined to score three touchdowns in the final four minutes to close out a 33-point fourth quarter.
While Sacramento State used the ground to score its points, Idaho State took to the air. Redshirt freshman Russel Hill completed 30-of-48 passes for 376 yards and a touchdown in the game. Hill completed passes to nine different receivers, including nine to Eddie Thompson for 98 yards.
Hill, however, did throw one costly interception in the second quarter when Jody Johnson picked off a pass in the end zone stopping a potential game-tying drive.
Defensively, Johnson arguably produced his best effort during his four years with the team. The cornerback finished the game with a career high eight tackles, including one for loss, and also had an interception and three pass breakups. Johnson also showcased his speed by chasing down an Idaho State receiver at the goal line despite being at least 30 yards away from the player when he caught the ball.
Junior linebacker Mike Hickman added a team-high nine tackles and senior Brent Webber contributed seven. Junior Mike Brannon also continued his hot play with six tackles, including a pair of sacks.
Prior to the start of the game, Sacramento State honored 19 seniors who played their final home contest of their career. All 19 were able to see action in the game, including quarterback Tim Bessolo, who came on in relief of Smith during the fourth quarter.
NOTES: The Hornets won back-to-back games for the first time since also defeating Northern Colorado and Idaho State last season…safety Brett Shelton tied Terance Wagner for the most starts in school history with 44…Shelton started every game during his four years with the team…receiver Ryan Coogler completed his career with 112 career receptions to rank fourth in school history…the defense finished the year with 33 sacks to tie the 2004 team for the most in the Div. I-AA/FCS era…nine different Hornet players caught a pass in the game…Smith finished the year with 303 attempts and 162 completions to rank fifth and seventh, respectively in those two categories in Sacramento State single season history…Hilliard’s 826 rushing yards were the most by a Hornet since Mole gathered 858 in 2004…his average of 5.6 yards per carry during the year is the eight-best mark at Sacramento State.