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October 8, 2013

FOOTBALL PUTS WINNING STREAK ON THE LINE AGAINST NO. 19 NORTHERN ARIZONA

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A BRIEF PREVIEW
Winners of three of its last four games, the Sacramento State football team will play its fourth home game in the last five weeks when it welcomes No. 19 Northern Arizona to Hornet Stadium on Oct. 12. The game against the Lumberjacks will kick off at 6:05 p.m.

There will be multiple ways to follow this week's game. Hornet fans can tune in to KTKZ 1380 AM (The Answer) to hear the radio call of Jason Ross, Steve McElroy and Danny Sullivan. Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com and on the iHeart Radio application for mobile devices.

This week's game will not be televised but can be seen on WatchBigSky.com The service is free but requires viewers to register.

Sacramento State evened its record at 3-3 overall and improved to 2-0 in Big Sky Conference games for the first time in school history with a 37-21 win over Northern Colorado on Oct. 5. The Hornets' offense threw for 312 yards and rushed for 201 in a dominating effort over the Bears. Quarterback Garrett Safron was named the ROOT Sports Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week after completing 26-of-39 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 33 yards.

Northern Arizona is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in conference games. The Lumberjacks, which are ranked 19th in The Sports Network poll and 21st in the FCS Coaches poll, has had the challenge of opening Big Sky play against Montana and Montana State. The team also has a loss against Arizona.

Along with All-America running back Zach Bauman, NAU's top scoring threat might be its defense. Austin Hasquet intercepted DeNarius McGhee and returned it for the Lumberjacks' fourth pick-six this season. The team also has two fumble returns for scores giving it six defensive touchdowns compared to five offensive.

Bauman is attempting to become just the ninth FCS player to record 1,000-yard rushing seasons all four years of their career. This year, he leads the team with 422 rushing yards and has scored three touchdowns. Bauman has had his way with the Hornets in the past, rushing for 246 yards in 2011.

Sophomore Kyren Poe has started all five games, throwing for 865 yards and two touchdowns with five interceptions. Poe's top receiver has been Alex Holmes who has caught 23 passes for 183 yards.

Defensively, the Lumberjacks allow just 164.0 passing yards per game. Hasquet is the team's leading tackler with 34 stops while safety Lucky Dozier is close behind with 32.

THE COACHES
Marshall Sperbeck is in his seventh season as the head coach at Sacramento State. During that span, Sperbeck has produced a 33-40 overall record. For a complete bio, please see page 2.

Northern Arizona is coached by Jerome Souers who is in his 16th season leading the Lumberjacks making him the longest tenured coach in the Big Sky. Souers has posted an 87-87 overall record in his time at NAU.

THE SERIES
Northern Arizona leads the all-time series, 9-7, and has won three of the eight games played at Hornet Stadium. The last eight meetings between the two teams have been split, 4-4. Sacramento State won in Flagstaff, Ariz., 40-10, in 2010 before NAU answered with a 27-26 road win over the Hornets in 2011. The teams did not play last season.

KEEPING THE STREAK ALIVE
• Following each of Sacramento State's three victories, the team has had either a Big Sky or national player of the week. The latest recipient was quarterback Garrett Safron who was named the ROOT Sports Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week.
• Against Northern Colorado, Safron completed 26-of-39 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns. During the game he had TD passes of 11, 12 and 13 yards marking the fourth straight game he has had multiple touchdown passes his fifth game with at least three TD passes. Safron also notched his fifth 300-yard game of his career.
• Earlier this season, DeAndre Carter was named the FCS Offensive Player of the Week by The Sports Network after catching five TD passes against Southern Oregon.
Darnell Sankey earned both the Big Sky and national Defensive Player of the Week awards after he had 10 tackles, including 4.5 tackles-for-loss and three sacks in a 31-3 win at Weber State.

DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER
• Heading into the season, Ezekiel Graham was slated to play a significant role for the Sacramento State offense as a running back, receiver and kick/punt returner. Those plans held through the first five weeks of the year as Graham led the team with 574 all-purpose yards but fell apart when Graham was sidelined by an ankle injury.
• Behind Graham on the preseason depth chart were sophomore De'jon Coleman and redshirt freshman Demetrius Warren. Coleman had eight carries before a neck injury took him out of the rotation. Warren stepped in nicely, amassing 197 yards and a touchdown before he suffered a shoulder injury at Weber State.
• Down its top three rushers, Sacramento State turned to true freshman Jordan Robinson and converted fullback Brandon Kellermann against Northern Colorado. Robinson rushed for 82 yards and caught three passes for 62 yards in his collegiate debut. Kellermann, who had played on special teams in the first five games, received each of his 15 carries in the second half and finished with 72 yards.

CARTER FINDS HOME IN END ZONE
• With a touchdown reception against UNC, DeAndre Carter remained at the top of Div. I with 10 receiving touchdowns on the season. All of Carter's 10 TDs have come in the last four games and the total places him in a tie with Murray State's Walter Powell for the FCS lead. Brandin Cooks of Oregon State has nine to lead the FBS.
• Carter began his streak against Southern Oregon where he caught 12 passes for 122 yards and a school record five touchdowns. His reception total tied him for third place in school history and was the most by a Hornet since 2004.
• A week later against Southern Utah, he had five receptions for 56 yards and also found the end zone one time.
• At Weber State, Carter eclipsed his career high with 148 receiving yards on eight receptions with three touchdowns. He scored on two 15-yard receptions in the second quarter and added a 51-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter.
• He added a new wrinkle against Northern Colorado with a 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter before catching a 12-yard pass in the second quarter. He nearly had a second TD reception but was ruled down on the 1-yard line.
• Carter has become just the third player in school history to catch at least three touchdown passes in a game twice, joining Mike Carter and Eric Harrington.
• Carter did not catch a touchdown pass as a freshman in 2011 where he had 11 receptions for 161 yards. Last year, he got off to a great start, scoring touchdowns in each of the first four games. However, he did not find the end zone for the remainder of the season, finishing with 32 catches for 344 yards.
• Carter is quickly moving up the school career and single-season list for touchdown receptions:

Career Receiving Touchdowns, Total, Needs
2. Morris Norrise, 2010-pres., 18, 4
3. Mike Carter, 1968-69, 17, 3
4. Lamont Webb, 1997-2000, 16, 2
5. Tony Washington, 2007-08, 15, 1
    Eric Harrington, 1992-93, 15, 1
7. Mark Young, 1986-88, 14, ---
    DeAndre Carter, 2011-pres., 14, ---

Single Season Receiving TDs    Total    Needs
1. Mike Carter, 1969    14    4
2. Tony Washington, 2008    12    2
3. Mitch Oliver, 1995    11    1
4. DeAndre Carter, 2013    10    ---

NON FLAG DAY
• Through the first five games, Sacramento State was called for 38 penalties for an average of 60 yards per game. Against UNC, the team was hit for just one foul for only five yards (ineligible man down field).
• Those totals tied the school single-game record during the Div. I-AA/FCS era, matching the total against Cal State Northridge in 1994.

UNCHARTED WATERS
• In its 18th year in the Big Sky Conference, Sacramento State finds itself 2-0 for the first time. The team is currently one of three school's in the Big Sky that have been victorious in first two games.
• The Hornets have historically struggled early in the Big Sky season, winning only three times in its first 17 openers before recording a win at Weber State.

SACK STREAK CONTINUES
• When Trent Eskew dropped UNC quarterback Seth Loboato in the fourth quarter on Saturday, it not only provided the senior with his first sack of the season, it extended Sacramento State's streak with at least one sack to 24 consecutive games.
• The last time the Hornets were unable to get to the quarterback came in the team's 42-28 win over Montana on Sept. 24, 2011.
• This season, seven different Sacramento State players have recorded at least a half sack. The group is led by Darnell Sankey who has 4.5.

SAFRON CONTINUES HIS ROLL
• Through the first nine quarters of the season, Garrett Safron had not thrown a touchdown. The junior then threw a school record seven over the next three quarters and overtime against Southern Oregon and has added nine more in the last three games. Despite the slow start to the year, Safron is now tied for third in the FCS with 16 passing touchdowns this season.
• Safron's seven passing touchdowns broke Ryan Leadingham's record of six against Idaho State in 2003. He enters this week's game tied with Jason Smith for second in school history with 38 career touchdown passes.
• To put the seven touchdowns against SOU in perspective, his single-game effort was greater than or equal to the Hornet team leader in four seasons since 1990.
• His 34 completions against Southern Oregon are the second most only behind his 37 from last season's Causeway Classic. He also moved into a tie for third place with 52 pass attempts.
• In his first full year as a starter (2012), Safron set the Sacramento State single season record with 246 completions and a 64.2 completion percentage. He also ranked second with 383 attempts and 22 touchdowns.
• Below is where he ranks in school history:

Career Passing Yards, Total, Needs
4. Tony Corbin, 1995-9, 4,866, 456
5. Ricky Ray, 1999-2000, 4,622, 212
6. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres., 4,410, ---

Career Passing Touchdowns, Total, Needs
1. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04, 50, 9
2. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres., 41, ---

Career Passing Attempts, Total, Needs
3. Tony Corbin, 1995-96, 701, 42
4. Mike Sullivan, 1981-83, 663, 4
5. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres., 659, ---

Career Passing Completions, Total, Needs
2. Jason Smith, 2007-09, 442, 34
3. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres., 408, ---

DAVIS EXTENDS LEAD
Todd Davis had his streak of three consecutive games with double-digit tackles come to a close when he tallied five against Northern Colorado. Despite the end of the run, Davis still remains the team leader with 59 total tackles this season, 21 more than his closest teammate.
• In the last three games alone, Davis has 41 tackles beginning with 12 against Southern Oregon before being credited with 13 against Southern Utah. The last Hornet to have 10-plus tackles in three consecutive games was Cyrus Mulitalo in 2006 (14 at EWU, 10 vs. WSU, 12 vs. MSU).
• Davis has led the team in tackles the past two seasons, tallying 96 in 2011 and 103 in 2012. Last year's total also included a team-best 13.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. That effort helped him be named second team all-Big Sky.
• The Palmdale, Calif., native has made a couple of changes in 2013. The first came when he changed his jersey number to No. 53 after wearing No. 91 the previous three years. The second will be on the field as he moves from outside linebacker to middle linebacker where he replaces the graduated Jeff Badger.
• Since moving to the FCS in 1993, Sacramento State has had five different linebackers earn All-America honors and 22 named all-Big Sky Conference.
• Below is a list of where Davis ranks in school history:

Career Tackles, Total, Needs
4. Matt Logue, 2002-05, 306, 27
5. Todd Davis, 2010-pres., 279, ---    

Career Tackles-For-Loss, Total, Needs
7. Christian Clark, 2007-10, 31.0, 6.5
8. Tyson Butler, 2003-06, 24.0, 0.5
9. Todd Davis, 2010-pres., 23.5, ---

MO ON THE MOVE
• Senior Morris Norrise extended his streak to 20-straight games in which he's played with a catch. In fact, Norrise has had two receptions in every game and four or more in 18 of the 20.
• Norrise leads the team with 41 receptions this season and is second with 356 yards and three TDs. Last season, he set career highs with 60 receptions and 777 yards.
•Norrise's average of 6.8 receptions per game ties him with Montana State's Tanner Bleskin for the Big Sky lead and places him 12th in the FCS.
• The Berkeley, Calif., native was named to the 2013 Big Sky preseason team and was a second team all-conference selection following last season. He was honorable mention all-Big Sky the previous two years.
• Norrise either is in second place of every major career receiving record at Sacramento State. Below is a look at where Norrise ranks on the Sacramento State career lists:

Career Receptions, Total, Needs
1. Fred Amey, 2001-04, 248, 74
2. Morris Norrise, 2010-pres., 174, ---

Career Receiving Yards, Total, Needs
1. Fred Amey, 2001-04, 4,049, 1,913
2.    Morris Norrise, 2010-pres., 2,136, ---

Career Receiving Touchdowns, Total, Needs
1. Fred Amey, 2001-04, 27, 9
2. Morris Norrise, 2010-pres., 18, ---

JUST THE FACTS
Jesse Aguilar's missed PAT against Northern Colorado was his first at any level of football (high school, junior college and at Sacramento State).
• Sacramento State's games against Southern Oregon and Southern Utah marked the first time that the Hornets played consecutive overtime games in school history.
• The 63 points scored against Southern Oregon were tied for the fourth most in school history and the most since 2003.
• The team tied the school record with 101 plays against SOU.
• Nine touchdowns were tied the school record while nine successful PATs set a new mark.
• The Hornets are minus-16 in turnover margin dating back to the start of last season. Last year, the team forced 18 fumbles but recovered only four.
• Bill Laveroni (offensive line) and Fred Kelley (tight ends/special teams) are both in their first seasons on the Hornet staff. Laveroni has coached at nearly every level of football from high school to the NFL career. Kelley is back after spending last season as the offensive line coach at Humboldt State.
• Sperbeck's 13 career road wins are the third most in school history. Ray Clemons won 35 games in 15 years and Bob Mattos won 34 in 15 years.
• Prior to being shutout at San Jose State, Sacramento State had scored in 68 straight games and at least a touchdown in 43 consecutive games.
• The 55-point margin of defeat at Arizona State is tied for the fifth largest in school history.
• The team's six first downs at ASU are tied for the third fewest in program history.

COACHES LUNCHEONS RETURN
• The Hornet Club Football Luncheons returned on Monday, Sept. 9, at Buca di Beppo on Howe and Hurley. The luncheons will feature head coach Marshall Sperbeck as well as a student-athlete and will take place from 12 -1 p.m.
• The luncheons will take place each Monday throughout the season. For $12 patrons will receive salad, entree, bread, desert and drink.

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