FOOTBALL HAS HOME OPENER SPOILED BY #19 EASTERN WASHINGTON
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jason Smith threw for a season high 320 yards and Brandyn Reed caught eight passes for 141 yards but it was not enough as #19 Eastern Washington downed Sacramento State, 56-30, Saturday night in front of 10,175 fans at Hornet Stadium.
The loss dropped the Hornets to 0-3 on the season and gave the team its fourth consecutive defeat dating back to last season. Eastern Washington improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Big Sky Conference games while winning in Sacramento for the ninth time in as many tries.
The offensive barrage began on the first drive of the game when EWU went 88 yards on 10 plays capped by a 12-yard run from Taiwan Jones to take a 7-0 lead. Sacramento State attempted to answer and used 14 plays to take the ball inside the Eagle 10-yard line. However, Evander Wilkins fumbled at the 8-yard line for the first of four Hornet turnovers on the night.
Eastern Washington took advantage of the miscue with a 2-yard pass from Matt Nichols to Nathan Overbay to make the score 14-0, two plays into the second quarter.
A 30-yard field goal from Chris Diniz but the Hornets on the board but their deficit continued to grow as Jones scored from 37-yards out. Sacramento State bounced back when Reed caught his first score of the year with a 14-yard strike from Smith.
With EWU leading, 21-9, the Hornets forced the Eagles to punt on the next series. The punt was muffed by Ron Richardson on the return and the ball was recovered by Eastern Washington setting up a 1-yard run from Nichols. Jones later added his third TD of the half to make the score, 35-9, at the break.
Sacramento State came out of the locker room and used a 14-play, 75-yard drive to trim its deficit. Freshman Sam McCowan scored from six yards out for his second TD before Jarred Pereira forced a fumble to give the ball back to the Hornets. Smith and Reed hooked up for a 48-yard completion which ended at the 1-yard line and McCowan pulled the Hornets within 12, 35-23, with 5:17 to play in the third quarter.
EWU seized momentum back with an 18-yard rushing score from Tyler Hart and a 33-yard interception return from Matt Johnson. The final Hornet points of the night came on a 12-yard run from Evander Wilkins.
Jones concluded a 15-carry, 190-yard performance with his fourth TD of the game for the only points in the fourth quarter.
Despite the score differential, EWU only outgained Sacramento State by 100 yards (537-437). The Eagles recovered three fumbles and also had the one interception while the Hornets were only able to recover one fumble. Nichols completed 18-of-28 passes for 255 yards. Jones rushing total was the most against Sacramento State since Bruce Mollock rushed for 201 for Montana State on Nov. 1, 2003.
For the Hornets, Smith's 320 passing yards marked his third career 300-yard game. He ended the game 26-of-34 (76.5 percent). Reed led the team in both receptions and yards while Dylan Lane added six catches for 53 yards. Wilkins (147), Reed (141) and McCowan (124) each also had 100-plus all-purpose yards.
Reigning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week, J.C. Sherritt led all players with 15 total tackles, including 2.5 for loss. Sherritt also forced two fumbles and recovered one.
Zach Schrader led Sacramento State with a season best 14 tackles.
Sacramento State returns to the road for the third time in four games when it faces Portland State on Sat., Oct. 3.