FOOTBALL CAN'T PULL OFF COMEBACK IN 29-20 LOSS AT PORTLAND STATE
PORTLAND, Ore. — Kyle Monson returned an interception for a touchdown and Jeff Fleming rushed for two scores in his return but it was not enough as the Hornets fell at Portland State, 29-20, Saturday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field.
Sacramento State lost its third consecutive game to fall to 3-6 overall and 2-5 in Big Sky Conference games. The Vikings are now 6-3 overall and 4-2 in league games.
Portland State jumped out to a quick start, scoring nine first quarter points. Willie Griffin put the team on the board with a 30-yard run up the middle of the field but the Hornets were able to stop a two-point attempt. Zach Brown added a 46-yard field goal with 4:26 left in the period.
With the offense struggling to get moving, Monson brought the Hornets within striking distance when he made a one-handed grab of a tipped pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. The score marked the second consecutive week that Monson has returned an interception for a touchdown and was his fourth career TD. The Hornets attempted a two-point conversion of their own but Fleming's pass, which was intended for T.J. Knowles, fell incomplete.
PSU answered back on its next drive when Connor Kavanaugh connected with Keitrell Anderson for a 16-yard touchdown. Kavanaugh just got the ball over the outstretched hand of safety Joe Larche to make the score 16-6 with 8:17 left to play in the first half.
Following a Sacramento State punt, the Hornet defense responded by forcing three fumbles on as many snaps. The last resulted in a ball getting over Kavanaugh's head which was recovered by Evander Wilkins inside the 1-yard line. That turnover quickly turned into points as Fleming plunged in from a yard out and then teamed with John Hendershott for the two-point conversion to pull the Hornets within two at the half.
In the third quarter, the Vikings added some insurance with a 45-yard field goal from Brown and a 28-yard touchdown run from Kavanaugh.
The Hornets made it a one possession game early in the fourth quarter when Fleming scored on an 8-yard keeper around the right side of the line. The drive was aided by a 25-yard rush from Sam McCowan.
After the defense forced a punt, the Hornets used a 49-yard rush from Bryan Hilliard to take the ball to the Vikings' 22-yard line. However, a 2-yard rush was bracketed by a incomplete passes setting up 4th-and-8. Sacramento State was unable to convert as Fleming was hit as he threw a pass intended for Kenonte Howard.
The Vikings took the ball and moved down the field behind a 57-yard pass from Kavanaugh to Justin Monahan. Despite not getting into the end zone, Brown made his third field goal of the game (this time from 22 yards) to extend the lead back to nine points.
The Hornets limited the Vikings' conference-leading rushing attack to 150 yards but surrendered 271 through the air as Kavanaugh was 12-of-25 with a touchdown and interception. Sacramento State finished the game with 307 yards of total offense comprised of 215 on the ground and 129 yards passing.
Individually, Fleming was 19-of-30 and was intercepted in the final seconds of the contest. The senior, who has missed the past two games, played all but one series on Saturday. Sophomore Morris Norrise led the team with six receptions while Howard had a team high 45 receiving yards on four grabs.
Fleming was also the Hornets' leading rusher, gaining 78 yards on 13 carries, including a 38-yard gain.
Jeff Badger led Sacramento State with nine tackles, including 1.5 for loss. Joe Larche was second with eight stops while five players had four.
Sacramento State returns home to face Idaho State on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. The team's final game of the season will come on Nov. 19 when they welcome UC Davis at 1 p.m.