FOOTBALL MAKES IT THREE STRAIGHT VICTORIES WITH 45-25 WIN OVER NORTHERN COLORADO
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jason Smith threw a career high four touchdowns, Bryan Hilliard rushed for 171 yards and Kevin Davis returned an interception for a touchdown to help lead the Sacramento State football team to a 45-25 victory over Northern Colorado in front of 10,567 fans at Hornet Stadium on Saturday.
The victory improved the Hornets to 6-5 overall and assured the team of a non-losing season for the first time since 2000. Sacramento State also won three consecutive games in the same season for the first time since 1992.
The Hornets wasted little time scoring throughout the game as five of the team’s seven scoring drives came in 1:28 or less. The first touchdown came on Sacramento State’s first offensive play of the game when Smith found Tony Washington for a 66-yard pass. After a defensive stop. Smith again went with the long ball and connected with senior Torrell Baker for a 53-yard strike to put the team ahead, 14-0, eight minutes into the game.
Northern Colorado answered with a touchdown run from quarterback Bryan Waggener and a 20-yard field goal from Michael York to pull within four, 14-10, but never got closer for the rest of the game. Senior Juan Gamboa matched York’s field goal on the ensuing drive. Senior Kevin Davis then intercepted Waggener and returned the ball 27 yards for his first career touchdown with 1:58 left in the half.
York ended the first half scoring with a 24-yard field goal as time expired.
The scoring frenzy slowed in the third quarter as Waggener scored his second touchdown of the game (and the season) from a yard out. The Bears opted for a two-point conversion attempt but the pass was incomplete.
The Hornet offense struck back in the fourth quarter as Smith and Washington connected for the fifth time in the last two games, this time from 10 yards. On the play, Smith lofted a pass to the left corner of the end zone and Washington ran under the ball for his 12 touchdown of the year – moving him into sole possession of second place in school single-season history.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, freshman Chase Deadder scored on a 68-yard pass from Smith. The pass, which was the longest for Sacramento State this season, gave Smith a career-high four touchdowns in the game and was also Deadder’s first of his career.
The Hornets’ final touchdown was set up by a blocked punt and Hilliard punched in his eighth score of the year with 5:38 to play.
Smith ended the day 10-of-17 for 267 yards and four touchdowns but also threw a pair of interceptions and fumbled twice. Washington led a group of six players who caught passes with four receptions. The senior tied the single-season Sacramento State record with 76 catches (Fred Amey, 2004). He also added 92 receiving yards and is now second in school single-season history with 1.195. Kevin Fontes has held school mark since 1982 when he had 1,207.
Hilliard carried the ball a season high 35 times for 171 yards. The sophomore has now tallied three 100-yard games this season and has seven in his career. The 171 yards ranks as his second-best performance behind the 243 last season against Idaho State.
Defensively, freshman Deionte Gordon led the team with 10 tackles, an interception and three pass break-ups. The Seaside, Calif., native leads the team with four interceptions and has tallied double-digit tackles three times this year. The defense also recovered two fumbles and had three tackles-for-loss.
Waggener threw for 317 while ending the game 23-of-39 with one touchdown and two interceptions. Alex Thompson had a game-high seven grabs for 145 yards and a score while Davis Woods led the ground game with 103 rushing yards.
Sacramento State will end its season at Idaho State on Nov. 22. With a win, the team will conclude the season with a 7-5 overall record and a 4-4 mark in Big Sky games. The 7-5 mark would tie the school’s Div. I-AA/FCS-era record for victories in a season.
NOTES: Prior to the start of the game, Sacramento State honored 14 seniors who played their final game at Hornet Stadium…Baker’s touchdown was the second of his career and his first since 2005…Davis scored his first career touchdown with the interception return despite playing with a torn ACL and meniscus…Kyle Hill returned a punt 19 yards for the team high this year and also recorded 90 return yards on four kickoffs…Sacramento State averaged 26.7 yards per completion…Sperbeck is now 5-1 in the month over November in his two years…the Hornets have allowed 300-plus yards of passing each of the last three games but are 3-0 in that span.