FOOTBALL RALLIES FOR 31-28 VICTORY OVER UC DAVIS IN THE PEPSI CAUSEWAY CLASSIC
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — McLeod Bethel-Thompson found Brandyn Reed in the back of the end zone with 20 seconds remaining for his second touchdown reception of the game and lift Sacramento State to a 31-28 victory over UC Davis in the 56th annual Pepsi Causeway Classic on Saturday in front of 17,127 fans at Hornet Stadium.
The victory gave the Hornets their second straight win in the series and the team ended the year at 5-6 overall. UC Davis finished 6-5.
Trailing 28-17 early in the fourth quarter, Sacramento State began its comeback with a 10-play, 56-yard drive which was capped by a 2-yard run from Jake Croxdale with 7:36 to play. The Hornets opted to go for two but the conversion failed leaving the score at 28-23.
Sacramento State stopped UC Davis on its next drive when Greg Denham's pass to Chris Carter on the sideline was ruled incomplete on 3rd-and-9. A punt drove the Hornets back to their own 11-yard line with 4:45 remaining. Bethel-Thompson's first two attempts fell incomplete before he connected with John Hendershott for a 13-yard gain to move the ball to the 30. Short passes to Croxdale and Dylan Lane pushed the ball near midfield but an incompletion and another short gain set up 3rd-and-2 where Bethel-Thompson hit Lane for a 6-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
Two more short gains took the ball to to the Davis 28 and Bethel-Thompson rushed for 5 yards on 3rd-and-2 to place the place at the 23. Following an incompletion, he found Ron Richardson for a 6-yard gain on second down and again for 4 yards on third down. After a timeout, he lofted the ball to the back right corner of the end zone where Reed was able to run it down for the game-winning touchdown. A two-point pass to Jon Krebs pushed the team to a three-point lead.
Sacramento State sealed the game when Kevin Moore recovered an attempted lateral with four seconds to play.
"I'm just happy for our seniors," head coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "McLeod came in a did a great job of moving the offense. The team never lost the belief that we could win the game."
The Hornets' only other lead in the game came in the first quarter when Chris Diniz hot a 37-yard field goal. That lead held until Nick Aprile scored on a 3-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. Aprile, who is the quarterback in UC Davis' wildcat formation, struck again on a 1-yard plunge with 6:46 left in the first half.
Bethel-Thompson replaced Jason Smith at quarterback for Sacramento State to start the third quarter and led the team on a 7-play, 66-yard drive which he ended on a 1-yard sneak. Denham and Carter connected for a 9-yard pass with just under five minutes to play in the third quarter to make the score 21-10 heading into the final quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Reed caught a 39-yard pass from Bethel-Thompson down the middle of the field. That score, however, was matched when Bakari Grant grabbed a receiver screen about 10 yards passed the line and then burst down the center of the field for a 49-yard touchdown to make the score 28-17.
Bethel-Thompson completed 19-of-29 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns in his two quarters of work. Reed led all players with seven receptions for 134 yards while Hendershott and Lane each had six catches for 73 and 43 yards, respectively. Croxdale was the team's leading rusher with 66 yards on 15 attempts.
Denham was an efficient 29-of-38 for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Carter led the way with nine grabs for 84 yards. Josh Reese rushed for 53 yards on 10 carries.
Defensively, Peter Buck recorded 11 tackles and Greg Johnson added eight for lead the Sacramento State defense.
NOTES: Sacramento State honored former head coach Bob Mattos by having each player wear "Mattos" on the back of their jerseys. The coaching staff also wore T-shirts which featured the interlocking SAC logo on the front and a quote from Mattos on the back…Mattos' first win over UC Davis came in a 31-28 decision in 1988…the Hornets have now won back-to-back Causeway Classics for the first time since a five-game streak between 1988-91…Sacramento State defeated UC Davis at Hornet Stadium for the first time since 1999…the attendance was the third largest in Sacramento State history for a home game.