BALANCED OFFENSE LEADS FOOTBALL TO 27-16 VICTORY OVER SOUTHERN OREGON
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Behind a pair of 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver, the Sacramento State football team racked up 535 yards of total offense and defeated Southern Oregon, 27-16, Saturday afternoon at Hornet Stadium. The Hornets improved to 2-1 on the season for the first time since 2001 while the Raiders dropped to 1-2.
Playing without several starters due to injury, Sacramento State turned to sophomore McLeod Bethel-Thompson to lead the offense. In his first start for the Hornets, Bethel-Thompson completed 19-of-32 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was senior Tony Washington who caught a career high nine passes for 159 yards. The Simi Valley, Calif., native has now surpassed the century mark in consecutive weeks and is averaging 114.7 yards per game.
Sacramento State was also able to get it done on the ground as the team boasted two 100-yard rushers for the second time in the three games this year. Sophomore Evander Wilkins amassed 161 yards on 23 carries and also scored his first touchdown on the year. He was joined by freshman Jake Croxdale who pounded out 109 yards on 20 carries.
"I thought we did some good things," Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "I had a feeling this game was going to be tough. Our guys need to clean up some things and become more consistent."
The game nearly got off to a disastrous start as Bethel-Thompson pass attempt from the Raider 7-yard line was deflected at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Sunni Ali. The defensive lineman broke free from the back and returned the ball all the way back to the Hornet 3-yard line before being caught and stripped by Washington. The ball bounced through the back of the end zone for a touchback and Sacramento State capitalized with an 80-yard scoring drive capped by a 22-yard pass from Bethel-Thompson to Ron Richardson.
After a 29-yard field goal from Corey O’Neill made the score, 7-3, Sacramento State began the second quarter with a 7-yard rush for a score by Bethel-Thompson. A sack from Christian Clark and the ensuing fumble recovery by Kevin Moore set the table for Wilkins’ 9-yard TD dash to make the score 21-3 with 10:24 left in the first half.
Southern Oregon scored on the opening possession of the second half when Qb Bryan Lee-Lauduski connected with Darryl Price for a 29-yard touchdown. However, the extra point was blocked to make the score 21-9. Juan Gamboa answered with a field goal but SOU responded with a 13-yard TD pass from Lee-Lauduski to Brandon Stout to end the third quarter scoring.
Gamboa made a 26-yard field goal for the Hornets’ final points of the game.
Lee-Lauduski finished 16-of-24 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Stout paced the team with three catches for 60 yards while Marlon Rosales rushed for a team high 36 yards on eight attempts.
Defensively, Peter Buck had eight tackles to lead Sacramento State while Cyrus Mulitalo added seven and Mike Brannon and Christian Clark each had six. Clark also contributed 2.5 tackles-for-loss, including two sacks.
Sacramento State will open Big Sky Conference play next Saturday, Sept. 20, when it hosts Weber State at 2:05 p.m.
NOTES: The Hornets’ 535 yards of total offense was the most by the team since it recorded 641 against Idaho State on Sept. 27, 2003…10 different Hornet receivers caught passes during the game…Wilkins (2x), Croxdale and Bryan Hilliard have all rushed for over 100 yards during one of the three opening games…Washington became the first Hornet to have consecutive 100-yard games since Fred Amey had five straight in 2004.