FOOTBALL PREPARES FOR 55TH-ANNUAL CAUSEWAY CLASSIC ON SATURDAY
Following a hard-fought 15-13 win at Eastern Washington, the Sacramento State football team will step aside from Big Sky Conference play as it takes on UC Davis in the 55th annual Causeway Classic delivered by AT&T. The contest against the Aggies will kickoff at 2:07 p.m. from Aggie Stadium and will mark the first time the Hornets have played a game in the stadium.
There will be numerous ways to watch or listen to this week’s game. Hornet fans can tune in to KRJY 1240 AM to hear the radio call of Jason Ross and Steve McElory. Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com.
The contest will also be carried on Comcast SportsNet in Northern California. Greg Papa, the play-by-play voice of the Oakland Raiders, will handle the same responsibilities for the broadcast. He will be joined by former Cal quarterback Mike Pawlawski (color) and sideline reporter Kym McNicholas.
The Hornets are coming off one of their best defensive showings of the year. The team held Eastern Washington to minus-31 yards rushing and limited the high-powered EWU offense which entered the game averaging 30.2 points per game to just 13 points. The Hornets also intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble.
Offensively, Sacramento State was led by Tony Washington who recorded his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the year with 114 yards and a touchdown. Washington also became just the fourth player in school history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
UC Davis (5-4) is coming off a bye week but enters the game having won four-straight games. The Aggies most recently defeated North Dakota, 34-21, on Oct. 25.
The Aggies lead the all-time series, 39-16. The two teams have played every season since 1954, including twice in 1988. UC Davis is 16-7 against the Hornets in Davis but all of the games were held at Toomey Field.
• Sacramento State did not allow a sack to the Eagles on Saturday. EWU entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in sacks.
• The Hornet defense held Eastern Washington to a school-record minus-31 yards rushing and also forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble).
• Tony Washington has 100 receiving yards in six of the last eight games this year.
• The all-time Causeway Classic attendance will surpass 500,000.
With a Win...
• Sacramento State will defeat UC Davis for the first time since 1999 (48-27).
• The Hornets will win consecutive road games for the first time since 2002.
• UC Davis will lose at least five games for the fourth straight season, its longest stretch since 1964-67.
Causeway Classic Quick Facts
• Despite this being the 55th Causeway Classic, Saturday’s game will mark the 56th meeting between the two schools. In 1988, the teams met twice, with Sacramento State winning in both the regular season (31-28) and the first round of the Div. II playoffs (35-13). The first of those two victories ended an 18-game losing streak against the Aggies.
• The game was not referred to as the Causeway Classic until 1983. Former Sacramento State sports information director Mike Duncan is credited with creating the moniker.
• The Causeway Classic has drawn 494,904 total spectators over the past 54 years. The two largest Sacramento State football crowds have come against UC Davis. In 1999, 20,993 attended the game while the 2001 contest drew 17,328.
• No current member of the Hornet football team has beaten UC Davis. However, defensive coordinator Lou Baiz and defensive line coach Jon Osterhout recorded victories as players. Baiz was a linebacker from 1988-90 and was 4-0 against the Aggies. Osterhout was an All-America offensive lineman who recorded wins in 1996 and 1999.
• The Causeway Classic press conference will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the Radisson at 11 a.m. The conference features Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck, UC Davis head coach Bob Biggs and selected players from both sides.
“We Want the Ball and We’re Going to Score”
The infamous Matt Hasselbeck quote could be the mantra of the 2008 Hornet football team. In its nine games, Sacramento State has received the opening kickoff eight times and has had great success putting points on the board.
Including the opening game of the year against Humboldt State (the only game in which Sacramento State has kicked off), the team has scored a touchdown on five of its nine opening drives. That total was extended this past weekend with a 13-play, 80-yard drive which ended with a 2-yard run from Bryan Hilliard for a touchdown.
The nonscoring drives have ended with three punts and a failed fourth down conversion. One strange twist came against Southern Oregon when McLeod Bethel-Thompson was intercepted but the defender fumbled on the play to keep the drive alive for the Hornets and eventually led to a touchdown.
Enough is Enough
The youthful Sacramento State defense had come under some scrutiny lately after allowing 147 points over four games. The team responded by holding an EWU team which averaged 30.2 points per game to just 13. Sacramento State also limited the Eagles to minus-31 rushing yards, marking the first time in the Hornets’ Div. I-AA/FCS era that the opponent has not had a positive total.
Helping the cause were five sacks, including 1.5 from safety Matt Evans. Prior to the game, Eastern Washington had allowed only nine sacks on the year.
The Hornet secondary also added two interceptions and broke up six passes. Deionte Gordon intercepted his third ball of the season in the closing seconds of the first half with a pick in the end zone and fellow freshman Robert Virgil sealed the game with an interception with just over a minute to play. Sophomore Peter Buck, who led the team with eight sacks, also intercepted a pass on a two-point conversion attempt.