FOOTBALL STORMS BACK, BUT FALLS IN HEART BREAKING FASHION TO #8 EASTERN WASHINGTON, 28-24
CHENEY, Wash. — Brandon Kaufman hauled in a 6-yard pass with 33 seconds remaining to lift eighth-ranked Eastern Washington to a 28-24 win over Sacramento State on Saturday afternoon at Roos Field.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in conference action. Sacramento State fell to 3-4 overall and 2-3 in league games. The Hornets' three conference losses have now come by a combined 10 points.
The Hornets rallied from a 21-3 deficit heading into the fourth quarter to take a 24-21 lead with 7:22 remaining in the game. The team scored its first touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run from Bryan Hilliard early in the period.
After another second-half stop by the defense, Zach Schrader blocked a punt which was scooped up by Henry Fernandez at the 23-yard line and returned for a touchdown. The play marked the second blocked punt of the day by the team and the second time the Hornets have scored on a blocked punt in the last two games.
Sacramento State took its first lead of the game just four minutes later when Hilliard scored from 1-yard out.
After the score, the Hornet defense responded by stopping EWU and forcing a punt. However, Sacramento State was not able to move the chains and punted the ball back to Eastern Washington with 3:18 to play.
The Eagles converted a 3rd-and-12 pass to Nicholas Edwards and scored three plays later on a lob from Bo Levi Mitchell to Kaufman in the right side of the end zone with 33 seconds remaining.
EWU jumped to a 21-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Kaufman caught a 17-yard pass on nearly the same play as the game-winner for the only points of the first quarter.
Early in the second, Taiwan Jones pinballed his way through the Sacramento State defense for a 77-yard touchdown run. Ashton Grant added a 25-yard TD with 9:35 to play in the half.
Sacramento State's lone points of the half came on a 28-yard field goal from Chris Diniz with seven seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Hilliard rushed for 107 yards and two scores on his 30 carries. The junior has now rushed for over 100 yards in eight of his last nine games. Chase Deadder caught three passes for 124 yards, including a 76-yarder to lead the team. Freshman Morris Norrise led the way with five receptions for 56 yards. Jeff Fleming finished the day 12-of-32 for 235 yards and two interceptions.
Jones, who leads the Big Sky in rushing, picked up 145 yards on 17 carries to lead all players. Mitchell completed 15-of-28 passes for 141 yards and three scores but was intercepted twice.
Defensively, Peter Buck tallied nine tackles to lead the Hornets. Zach Johnson was credited with 12 stops to pace the Eagles.
As a team, Sacramento State dominated the statistics. The Hornets amassed 398 total yards on 82 plays while holding the ball for 35:56. EWU ran just 56 plays en route to its 323 yards and had 24:04 time of possession.
Sacramento State will return to the road on Saturday, Oct. 30, when it travels to Northern Arizona.