SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Garrett Safron and DeAndre Carter each set school records with seven passing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns, respectively, and the Sacramento State defense came up with the stop it needed in overtime lifting the Hornets to a 63-56 win over Southern Oregon on Saturday night at Hornet Stadium.
The win was the first for the Hornets this season and lifted the team to 1-2 overall. Southern Oregon dropped to 0-3.
After SOU rallied for two touchdowns in a three-minute span, Safron drove the team 75 yards in 1:47 culminating with a 6-yard strike to Carter in the middle of the end zone with just one second remaining to tie the game, 56-56. Safron converted three third-down attempts during the series, including two on scrambles. The team was also aided by a pass interference call which took the ball to the 6-yard line with four seconds to play to set up the tying touchdown.
The Hornets began overtime with a three-play drive as Safron found Morris Norrise for an 11-yard gain before hitting Carter for a 14-yard touchdown to take the lead. The strike was a record-setting effort for both as Safron topped Ryan Leadingham's previous mark of six TDs through the air from 2003 and Carter broke Chris Kelly's record of four TD receptions from 1999.
Sacramento State's defense came up big on its turn in overtime, holding the Raiders to minus-1 yards on four plays. The final pass from Austin Dodge fell incomplete in the end zone.
The two teams combined for 1,238 yards of total offense, 60 first downs and 17 touchdowns. Sacramento State tied the school record with 101 total plays while its 639 yards of offense ranks as the second most in school history.
Safron completed 34-of-52 attempts for a career high 368 yards. His completions rank second in school history only behind his 37 in last season's Causeway Classic while his yardage total places him ninth in the Hornet record book.
Carter moved into a tie for third place in school single-game history with 12 receptions and a career high 122 yards. Norrise hauled in 10 passes for 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns, marking the first time a pair of Hornet receivers each caught 10-plus passes in the same game. Shane Harrison added a career high 72 yards on four grabs and six other Sacramento State players also had a reception.
On the ground, Ezekiel Graham tallied a career high 166 rushing yards, including a 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter for the team's first points. Graham added 15 receiving yards, 25 punt return yards and 50 kickoff return yards to finish with 256 all-purpose yards. Freshman Demetrius Warren added 54 yards and scored his first career touchdown.
SOU quarterback Austin Dodge was 27-of-57 for 366 yards and six touchdowns. Ryan Retzlaff was the team's leading receiver with seven catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Retzlaff added six grabs for 40 yards and also had a pair of TDs. Running back Melvin Mason had 20 carries for 236 yards, including TD runs of 76 and 59 yards.
Todd Davis led Sacramento State with 12 tackles, including a career best eight solos. Davis also contributed two tackles-for-loss, forced a fumble, had a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.
Randy Tyler (13), Mylz Blake (13) and Daniel Breaux (11) each recorded double digit stops for the Raiders.
The game was back-and-forth in the early going as the game was tied at 7-7 and 14-14. SOU pulled ahead 28-14 with consecutive TD passes to Matt Retzlaff midway through the second quarter.
The Hornets took their first lead of the game with 20 seconds to go in the half when Carter grabbed a 7-yard TD pass. That score followed a 12-yard touchdown reception from Carter with 5:24 to play and a 24-yard scoring pass to Norrise with 2:11 left in the period.
The Raiders answered in the third quarter with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 42-35 lead. Sacramento State tied the game, 49-49, early in the fourth on a 5-yard pass to Norrise. The team then moved ahead on a 22-yard grab by Carter down the right sideline.
However, SOU wasn't down as Dylan Young beat the coverage for a 36-yard touchdown to knot the game at 49-49 before Mason scored his second touchdown with 1:48 remaining.
Sacramento State remains at home to host Southern Utah in a non-Big Sky game on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 6:05 p.m.