FOOTBALL GOES UP BIG, HOLDS ON FOR 38-35 WIN AT NORTHERN COLORADO
GREELEY, Colo. — The weather on Saturday felt more like California than Colorado in November, and the Hornets looked liked they were playing at home — at least in the first half — and held on for a 38-35 victory over Northern Colorado at Nottingham Field.
With the win, Sacramento State improved to 4-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets also guaranteed themselves at least a .500 record in conference play for the first time since 2006. Northern Colorado dropped to 3-7 overall and 1-6.
Saturday was a game of firsts for numerous Hornets. Jon Krebs and Jeff Badger each scored their first career touchdowns while Ronald Richardson also passed for his first. McLeod Bethel-Thompson also threw for his first touchdown this season, Jake Croxdale rushed for his first touchdowns and Deionte Gordon grabbed his initial interception of 2009.
Bethel-Thompson was given his first start of the season by head coach Marshall Sperbeck and responded with 133 yards on 13-of-22 attempts with a touchdown and an interception. Croxdale also made his debut in the starting lineup and posted his second career 100-yard game with 107 yards. The sophomore was making his first appearance for the team since breaking his wrist — which required surgery — at Cal Poly on Sept. 12.
The Hornet defense also excelled early, shutting out the Bears in the first half. As a team, Sacramento State stretched its scoreless streak to 63 minutes, 16 seconds before allowing Northern Colorado into the end zone in the third quarter.
After stopping the Bears on fourth down on the game's opening drive, the rest of the first half belonged to the Hornets. Chris Diniz made a 34-yard field and was followed shortly after by a 48-yard pass from Richardson to Brandyn Reed to make the score 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Croxdale scored the first of his two scores on a 4-yard run midway through the second quarter. Krebs then caught a 5-yard pass from Bethel-Thompson before Croxdale closed the half with a 2-yard score.
Northern Colorado scored its first points on a 13-yard run from quarterback Bryan Waggener with 11:44 to play in the third. Sacramento State marched back down with an 11-play, 62-yard drive which was capped by Badger's 1-yard dive over the pile.
From that point, the Bears posted 21 unanswered points. Andre Harris scored on a 1-yard rush with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter to make the score 38-14. That score held until Waggener rushed for a 1-yard TD with 11:13 to play. Down 18, Northern Colorado elected to go for the extra point instead of a two-point try which could have made it a two-possession game. The extra point was missed, however, leaving the Hornets on top 38-20.
Following a Sacramento State punt, Northern Colorado took advantage of a roughing-the-passer call and a pass interference penalty in the end zone to set up Harris' 2-yard score. Harris also added a two-point conversion to pull the Bears within 10 (38-28) with 5:47 left.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Sacramento State and the team drove to the UNC 20-yard line but Chris Diniz pulled a 34-yard field goal attempt wide left for his first miss of the year. Northern Colorado then drove down to the 2 on just nine plays and made it a three-point game when John Burnley found the end zone with 35 seconds left.
Sacramento State closed the game when Krebs jumped on the onside kick which had been tipped by another Hornet player.
Sacramento State returns to action on Nov. 14 when its plays at Montana State. Kick off against the Bobcats will come at 11 a.m. PST. The team's final game of the year will be against UC Davis in the annual Causeway Classic on Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.