FOOTBALL ENDS SEASON AT IDAHO STATE IN SEARCH OF WINNING RECORD
Eleven down, one to go. That is all that is left for the Sacramento State football team as it will close out the 2008 season on Sat., Nov. 22, when it takes on Idaho State. The game will kick off from Holt Arena at 2:05 p.m. PST.
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, Steve McElory and Danny Sullivan. Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com. Live video streaming can also be seen on www.bigskytv.org.
Sacramento State finds itself in an unfamiliar setting as the team enters the week with a 6-5 mark. With a 45-25 win over Northern Colorado last week, the Hornets assured themselves of at least a .500 record for only the fourth time in the program’s Div. I-AA/FCS era. Against the Bears, Jason Smith threw for a career high four touchdowns and Bryan Hilliard rushed for a season high 171 yards to lead the offense. Senior Kevin Davis intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown for a memorable senior day.
The team’s three-game in-season winning streak is the longest for Sacramento State since 1992. A victory over Idaho State on Saturday would provide the Hornets with their first four-game winning streak in the same season since 1991 and would give the team three consecutive road victories in the same year for the first time since 1991.
Idaho State is 0-11 following a 29-10 loss at Montana. The Bengals are currently riding a 15-game losing streak which dates back to last season but battled the Griz in the early going before Marc Mariani’s 94-yard punt return broke the game open.
Sacramento State leads the all-time series, 7-5, and has won the last two meetings between the two schools. The Hornets, however, are 2-4 all time in Pocatello, Idaho.
• Sacramento State is playing a 12th game in a season for just the third time in school history. In 1988, the 12th game was a 56-7 win over North Carolina Central in the Div. II quarterfinals. In 2002, the Hornets defeated Humboldt State in the regular season finale.
• The Hornet offensive line has allowed only one sack in the last three games combined.
• Tony Washington needs just one catch and 12 receiving yards to set the school single-season records for receptions and yardage.
A Look at the Hornets
Senior Day Send Off
Prior to last week’s game against Northern Colorado, Sacramento State honored 14 seniors who were playing their final home game. Several members of the class added some extra memories during the game.
Along with Tony Washington’s two touchdowns, the team received TDs from Torrell Baker and Kevin Davis and a blocked punt from Darnell Worthy. Baker scored his first touchdown since 2005 when he gathered in a pass from Smith, cut back to the center of the field and ran 20 yards for a 53-yard touchdown pass in the opening quarter.
With 1:58 remaining in the first half, Davis recorded his second career interception and returned the ball 27-yards for his first touchdown.
Baker and Davis came to Sacramento State prior to the 2004 season from Long Beach Poly HS. The pair redshirted during the year before stating their college careers in 2005.
Davis’ story is even more impressive considering he is playing with a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus. The senior wears a knee brace on his left leg and will have reconstructive surgery when the year is over.
Both Baker and Davis have already earned the bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State.
The Bear Hunter
In just two years, Bryan Hilliard has amassed career-like numbers against Northern Colorado. After rushing for 168 yards as a freshman in Greeley, Colo., Hilliard tallied 171 yards this past Saturday. In his two career games against NC, Hilliard has now rushed for 339 yards and two scores.
The 171 yards gives Hilliard three 100-yard games this season and seven for his career. The Elk Grove, Calif., native could have easily doubled his total this year having rushed for 96 yards against both Montana and Montana State and 95 at UC Davis.
Hilliard heads to Idaho State with 811 rushing yards in his nine games. An amazing effort of 189 rushing yards would make him the first 1,000 yard rusher for the Hornets since Charles Roberts recorded 1,624 in 2000. While yardage needed would require a season high from Hilliard, keep in mind he rushed for 243 yards last season against the Bengals.
One week after being named Big Sky co-Offensive Player the Week, Jason Smith kept his momentum going by throwing a career high four touchdowns and passing for 267 yards on 10-of-17 attempts.
The only negative part of Smith’s day was that he threw two interceptions and fumbled twice.
This season, Smith has now completed 127-of-218 attempts and has 16 touchdowns with only five interceptions. Those numbers are significantly better than last season where he had 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
With one game remaining, Smith needs four touchdown passes to tie Ricky Ray’s school record of 20 which came in 1999. He is currently tied for third place with Mike Lippi (1969), Drew Wyant (1989), and Greg Knapp (1984), and is one behind Ryan Leadingham (2001) and Tony Corbin (1995 and 1996).
Smith has already moved into a tie for seventh all-time at Sacramento State with 26 career touchdowns. Bobby Fresques is next on the list with 27.
Head of the Class
There have been nine coaches in the history of Sacramento State football and none have more wins in their first two years than Marshall Sperbeck. The second-year coach is 9-13 through his first 22 games and with one game to play, Sperbeck has the chance to become the only coach to win 10 games during that span in school history.
Sperbeck is currently tied with Mike Clemons who went 4-6 in 1993 and 5-5 in 1994. Even with a win over Idaho State, Clemons’ winning percentage of .450 would still be higher than Sperbeck’s (.435).
Brandon Smith is the last Hornet standing in the CFL. Smith’s Calgary Stampeders will face the Montreal Alouettes in Sunday’s Grey Cup. Smith, who is in his first year with the league, defeated Charles Roberts’ B.C. Lions in the semis. Ricky Ray’s Edmonton Eskimos also bowed out last week.
A Look at the Bengals
• Kyle Blum is scheduled to make his second career start at quarterback for the Bengals. Blum started last week at Montana after Russel Hill earned the nod in the first 10 games of the year.
• Sacramento native Eddie Thompson is the Bengals’ leading receiver. Thompson has 68 catches for 698 yards and two touchdowns. Clint Knickrehm has scored seven rushing touchdowns and leads the team with 435 yards.