SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
Behind three touchdown passes from quarterback Jeff Fleming
, the Sacramento State football team defeated Portland State, 28-15, in a Big Sky Conference game on Saturday afternoon in front of 7,812 fans at Hornet Stadium. The Hornets improved to 5-4 overall and 4-3 in Big Sky Conference games. The Vikings dropped to 2-7 and 1-5 in conference play.
Sacramento State jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Bryan Hilliard
found the end zone from 6 yards out with 6:40 remaining in the quarter for his 31st
career rushing touchdown and 12th
of the season.
Freshman Morris Norrise
extended the lead with a 43-yard catch from Fleming with 2:14 showing. On the play, Fleming faked a hand-off and a reverse before finding Norrise uncovered in the center of the field. The freshman now has eight receiving touchdowns on 30 receptions.
Zach Brown made the first of his three field goals with a 40-yard attempt early in the second quarter to put PSU on the board. Fleming answered with a 2-yard pass to tight end Matt Carter
on the ensuing drive to push Sacramento State’s lead to 21-3 with 8:45 left in the half.
Momentum swung in the favor of the Vikings when Cory McCaffrey rushed up the middle for a 5-yard touchdown. Following a defensive stop, Portland State drove the ball to the Sacramento State 11-yard line and faced a 3rd-and-3. However, Tygue Howland was called for intentional grounding resulting in a 20-yard loss and taking the team out of the red zone. The Vikings then attempted a pass on a fake field goal which fell incomplete.
The third quarter again went in favor of PSU but the Hornet defense responded with stops when needed. Sacramento State was held without a yard of offense in the quarter (4 rushing, minus-4 passing) and held the ball for only 3:44. The Vikings compiled 108 yards of offense but were limited to a 24-yard field goal from Brown.
PSU pulled within six, 21-15, on Brown’s third make but the Hornets put the game away when Fleming hit Chase Deadder
for a 57-yard touchdown on a post route midway through the fourth quarter.
“I give a lot of credit to (quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson
),” Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck
said. “He saw that the safety was sliding over and we drew the play up in the dirt on the sideline.”
Portland State outgained the Hornets 374-308 behind its pistol offense. Cory McCaffrey rushed 33 times for 187 yards and Howland added 29 in helping the team compile 233 rushing yards.
“We knew that this would be a tough challenge,” Sperbeck said. “They execute their offense very well but our defense was able to make some big plays.”
The Hornets did most of their damage through the air with Fleming completing 13-of-23 passes for 240 and three scores. The junior now has three games with at least three passing touchdowns and has thrown 18 during the season. That mark places him second in school single-season history, trailing only Ricky Ray’s total of 20 from 1999.
Deadder led all Sacramento State players with 138 all-purpose yards. The junior recorded 116 receiving yards on just four receptions and also gained 22 yards on two rushes. Norrise also had four catches for 71 yards. The Hornet ground game was limited to 68 yards with Hilliard rushing eight times for 21 yards.
Defensively, Peter Buck
led all players with a season-high 15 total tackles, including seven solos. The senior moved into fifth place in Hornet history with 262 career stops. Fellow senior Zach Schrader
also cracked double figures with 10 tackles.
Sacramento State will play the remainder of its season away from home. The team will conclude Big Sky play at Idaho State on Nov. 13 before making the short trip to Davis, Calif., for the Causeway Classic on Nov. 20