FOOTBALL TRAVELS TO MONTANA STATE FOR FINAL BIG SKY GAME OF THE YEAR
Winners of the last two games, and four of its last six, the Sacramento State football team will close out Big Sky Conference play when it travels to Montana State on Sat., Nov. 14. The game against the Bobcats will kick off at 11:05 a.m. PST from Bobcat Stadium.
There will be multiple ways to follow this week’s game. Hornet fans can tune in to KRJY 1240 AM to hear the radio call of Jason Ross, Brian Berger and Danny Sullivan (Steve McElroy will be with the Hornet men’s basketball team). Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com. Sacramento State will also be featured on BigSkyTV. org. The free package is available for all Big Sky football games as well as any non-conference contest hosted by Sacramento State. Montana State will also televise the game via its Max Media network.
Sacramento State comes into this week’s game with a 4-5 overall record and a 4-3 mark in Big Sky games. The team most recently defeated Northern Colorado, 38-35, in Greeley, Colo., on Saturday. Against the Bears, the Hornets built a 31-0 halftime lead and eventually led 38-7 before staving off a furious UNC comeback. Sophomore running back Jake Croxdale rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns in his first start of the season and junior safety Zach Schrader was named the Big Sky’s co-Defensive Player of the Week after a 14-tackle performance with an interception and forced fumble.
Regardless of the outcome of this week’s game, Sacramento State is assured of finishing the year with a .500 record in Big Sky play. Since moving to the conference in 1996, the Hornets have had only two four-win conference seasons. In 2000, Sacramento State was 5-3 and the team went 4-4 in 2006.
Montana State knocked off Portland State, 28-10, in a rain-soaked game to improve to 6-3 overall and 5-2 in Big Sky action. The Bobcats led 28-7 at halftime with the help of two rushing touchdowns, a passing touchdown and a special teams score (blocked punt recovered in the end zone). The team also used a two-quarterback system with Cody Kempt playing the first and third and Mark Iddins taking snaps in the second and fourth.
A Look at the Hornets
Schrader Named Big Sky POW
Junior Zach Schrader was named the Big Sky Conference’s co-Defensive Player of the Week after a spectacular statistical day at Northern Colorado
In the team’s win , the safety tied his career high with 14 tackles. That mark also included a career best seven solo stops. Schrader was instrumental in the team’s first half success, intercepting a pass and returning it 24 yards to set up a touchdown and lift the team to a 31-0 lead at the break. The Issaquah, Wash., native also forced a fumble with a jarring hit of quarterback Bryan Waggener.
Schrader shared the award with Idaho State linebacker A.J. Storms who recorded 11 tackles and a forced fumble in a 12-10 loss to No. 2 Montana.
The Power of Mac
McLeod Bethel-Thompson earned his first start of the season and helped lead Sacramento State to victory at Northern Colorado. The junior earned the nod in pregame warmups after splitting time with Jason Smith during the week.
Bethel-Thompson responded by completing 13-of-22 passes for 133 yards. He also had one interception and connected with Jon Krebs for a 5-yard pass in the second quarter.
The San Francisco native also was successful with his feet, rushing for 12 net yards. That total is slightly misleading as it includes 13 negative yards that came on a pair of sacks. Bethel-Thompson’s longest run of 19 yards came on 3rd-and-7 to keep a drive alive which led to the team’s final touchdown.
Bethel-Thompson came to Sacramento State prior to the 2008 season after spending two years at UCLA. Last season, he started a pair of games at quarterback before injuring his knee. He finished the year completing 28-of-49 passes for 415 yards and two TDs.
Sophomore Jake Croxdale made an early return to the field memorable as he led the team with 107 rushing yards at Northern Colorado.
Croxdale was thought to be lost for the season after suffering a broken left wrist while covering a kickoff at Cal Poly on Sept. 12. Following surgery, Croxdale was pushed out of action until being cleared just prior to the Northern Arizona game.
One week of practice appeared to be enough and it was just in time as Croxdale was thrust into starting lineup at Northern Colorado. Against the Bears, he carried the ball a career high 29 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. His first score came on a 4-yard run midway through the second quarter while his second came from two yards out and put the team ahead 31-0 at the break.
The 100-yard effort was not the first for Croxdale. Last season, he gained 109 yards against Southern Oregon.
The most efficient passing performance did not belong to McLeod Bethel-Thompson or Jason Smith. The honor belonged to wide receiver Ronald Richardson who was 1-for-1 with a 48-yard touchdown pass to Brandyn Reed.
With 1:20 to play in the first quarter, Richardson took a handoff from Bethel-Thompson and moved to his right. He then lofted a ball to a wide-open Reed who was at the 10-yard line and cruised into the end zone.
The pass was the second attempt from Richardson during the year and his first completion. As a freshman, he completed a 29-yard pass.
Game of Firsts
Numerous feats were recorded at Northern Colorado ranging from personal bests to career milestones. Below is just a sampling:
• Jake Croxdale recorded his first multi-touchdown game as a Hornet.
• Ron Richardson passed for his first career touchdown.
• Jon Krebs recorded his first career touchdown.
• Jeff Badger recorded his first career touchdown and rushed for a career high 75 yards.
• Durrell Oliver had a career — and team season best — five pass breakups.
• Brian Heath matched his career high with three receptions and set a career high with 49 yards.
Keeping It Close
The Hornets’ last two games have both been decided by three points. The team defeated Northern Arizona, 27-24, and the topped Northern Colorado, 38-35.
The back-to-back close wins marked the first time that the team has won consecutive games by three points or less since 1993. That year, Sacramento State defeated Cal State Northridge (31-30) and Cal Poly (35-33).
Since moving to Div. I-AA/FCS in 1993, the Hornets have had only one season (2000) with three wins decided by three points or less.
In Search of the Threepeat Repeat
A victory at Montana State would be big for Sacramento State in a number of ways. First, the team would win at Montana State for the first time in the Div. I-AA/FCS era. Secondly, the Hornets would match their best Big Sky record in school history (5-3). Third, Sacramento State would have a chance for a winning record heading into its season-finale against UC Davis.
Another strange twist that would result from a victory would be the fact that the Hornets would have had three-game winning streaks in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1991-92. In 2008, the team was victorious against Eastern Washington, UC Davis and Northern Colorado. This year, Sacramento State has defeated Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado heading into the Montana State contest.
All By Himself
Zach Schrader is the only player in the Big Sky to be ranked in the top three of tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles this season. The junior is third in the league with 10.6 tackles per game, second in interceptions (four) and tied for first in fumbles forced with three.
Schrader’s average of 10.56 tackles per game ties him for 16th nationally in the FCS. The national and Big Sky leader is J.C Sherritt of EWU who is averaging 14.00 stops.
Schrader began his collegiate career at Western Washington but was forced to find a new home after the program was discontinued last winter.
All Good Things...
Junior kicker Chris Diniz had his streak of consecutive field goals come to a close when he pulled a 33-yard attempt wide left. Diniz had made his first 10 field goals of the year, including a 34-yarder in the first quarter against the Bears. His streak set Sacramento State’s Div. I-AA/FCS era record for most consecutive made field goals. The previous mark of six in a row was held by Scott Brown since 1998. That year, Brown finished 13-for-21.
This year, he is tied for 29th in the FCS rankings at 1.11 field goals per games and also moved into ninth place in school single-season history with 10 field goals. The single-season school record of 14 is shared by Bret LeVier (2002) and Brown (1999).
Jim Crouch is the most accurate Hornet kicker in a season, making 13-of-16 attempts (81.2 percent) in 1991.
A Look at the Bobcats
• Montana State is averaging 376.3 yards per game with a balanced attack. Aaron Mason (74.3 ypg) and C.J. Palmer (55.2) are the top two rushers. Mark Iddins (152.1) and Cody Kempt (103.9) have shared the QB duties while Julius Lloyd (52.0) and Everett Gilbert (48.3) are the top two receivers.
• Defensively, senior Dane Fletcher is the biggest threat on the team. The Buck Buchanan Award candidate has 45 tackles on the year, including 12.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. Clay Bignell leads the team with 60 tackles.
• The Bobcats are 3-1 at home this season with their lone setback coming against Northern Arizona, 23-10, on Oct. 10.
Big Sky Notes
Northern Colorado QB Bryan Waggener was named the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week. Schrader and ISU’s A.J. Harms shared the defensive award and Montana kicker Brady McKnight was the Special Teams Player of the Week.