MOSCOW, Idaho — Sacramento State created three turnovers, had four sacks and forced Idaho into 2-of-11 on third-down attempts but could not come away with a victory in a 28-6 season-opening loss to the Vandals on Thursday at the Kibbie Dome.
Sacramento State struck first with a career-long 52-yard field goal from Devon Medeiros early in the second quarter. However, Idaho scored a pair of touchdowns during the quarter and led 14-6 at halftime. The Vandals added touchdowns in the third and fourth quarter while the Hornets were shut out over the final 30 minutes.
The Hornets finished with just 190 total yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per play while Idaho compiled 356 yards of total offense and 5.7 yards per play. Sacramento State started the game with Kevin Thomson at quarterback. The junior was 10-of-21 for 95 yards without an interception. He was replaced in the fourth quarter by JC transfer Wyatt Clapper who was 0-for-4 in limited action.
The defense provided constant pressure on Vandal quarterback Matt Linehan in the first half. George Obinna had two sacks and Dre Terrell and Malcolm Thomas each had a sack. The four sacks were one more than the team had in any game last season. Terrell and Mister Harriel also had interceptions to lead the team.
Sacramento State used four players at running back with true freshman Elijah Dotson leading the team with 46 yards on five carries. Dotson also had a 46-yard kickoff return and finished the game with 128 yards of total offense in his first collegiate game.
Isiah Hennie had a team-high five receptions for 49 yards. Hennie moved to 10th place in school history with 104 career receptions during the game.
Marcus Bruce paced the defense with eight total tackles. Obinna had three tackles-for-loss and forced a pair of fumbles.
Sacramento State will host Incarnate Word on Saturday, Sept. 9, in the home opener.
14:16 - Facing 4th-and-1, Sacramento State elected to attempt a long field goal and Devon Medeiros responded by crushing a 52-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare. The kick was a career long for Medeiros and tied him for the second longest in school history. Only Scott Brown's 53-yard make in 1998 was longer than Medeiros. There have been three other 52-yarders by a Hornet with two from Chris Diniz and one from Brown.
6:19 - Idaho took its first lead of the game on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Matt Linehan to Jacob Sannon. The big play for the Vandals during the drive was a 49-yard pass to Aaron Duckworth. On the play, Linehan slipped out of a would-be sack and was able to throw a short pass to Duckworth who tightroped the right sideline and broke a pair of tackles to take the ball inside the 10-yard line. The touchdown pass also saw Linehan step out of a sack before scrambling to find Sannon.
3:39 - After stopping the Hornets, Idaho added to its leads with a 3-play, 63-yard drive. Duckworth had a 28-yard rush around the left end to take the ball to the Hornet 35. Linehan then threw a high-arcing pass which hit Reubun Mwehla in stride in the end zone for a 35-yard completion to make the score 14-3.
0:02 - Late in the second quarter, Sacramento State was forced to punt near midfield and a touchback gave the ball to the Vandals at the 20. However, on the first play, George Obinna sacked Linehan and the ball was knocked all the way back to the 6-yard line where it was recovered by Seperini Aumua. With 11 seconds showing and no timeouts, the Hornets threw two incomplete passes before Medeiros made a 23-yard field goal to end the first half scoring.
9:40 - Idaho struck first in the second half and pushed its lead to 21-6 when Henderson scored on 4th-and-goal from the 1 yard line. The drive was set up after the Vandals stuffed Sacramento State on 3rd-and-1. Duckworth had a 28-yard rush and Isaiah Saunders added a 17-yard dash during the drive.
6:13 - Duckworth broke through on a draw play for an 18-yard touchdown. The senior also went over 100 yards during the drive. The Vandals started the drive in their own territory after a punt pinned the Hornets at their own 4-yard line and Idaho was able to get a piece of the ensuing punt attempt by Sacramento State.
Head coach Jody Sears on the defensive performance:
I was pleased at times but we let guys get out of a couple of tackles which resulted in big plays. At the end of the day we didn't tackle well enough against a good football team. There are no moral victories. They ran the ball for 193 yards which is inexcusable and that's because of too many missed tackles.
On the offense:
We had too many dropped balls. There's no excuses and we need to get back to work. We are a long way from where we need to be. We had a couple of drives where we got the running game going and were 1-of-15 on third down. I don't know what percentage that is but I know that's not good.
What positives can you take away:
We got three turnovers and the kids played their hearts out. We only had one penalty which is really good for the first game. We also had some true freshman show up and play well. I also thought we matched up with them up front really well.
Sacramento State set a school record by having just two penalty yards in the game. Neither team was called flagged in the first half and the Hornets' only penalty was a delay of game call in the fourth quarter.
The interceptions for Mister Harriel and Dre Terrell were both the first of their career.
Medeiros' 52-yard field goal was the first made 50-yard attempt by a Hornet since Edgard Castaneda at Idaho State in 2012.
The 28 points allowed were tied for the fourth-fewest against an FBS opponent in school history.