SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Elijah Dotson recorded his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game but Sacramento State could not slow the Cal Poly triple option in a 41-27 loss to the Mustangs on Saturday night at Hornet Stadium.
The Hornets fell to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in Big Sky Conference games. Cal Poly moved to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in league games.
Sacramento State finished with more total yards, outgaining the Mustangs, 493-478. The Hornets threw for 322 and a pair of touchdowns and also rushed for 171 led by Dotson's 149. Cal Poly was far from balanced as the Mustangs gained 462 yards on 70 rush attempts while completing just 1-of-6 passes for 16 yards. Cal Poly had a pair of 100-yard rushers with Joe Protheroe gaining 128 yards on 32 attempts and Drew Hernandez adding 113 yards on 12 carries.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter as both combined to find the end zone on the first four drives of the game. The pace slowed down from there with the Mustangs taking a 21-14 lead into halftime after a 70-yard punt return from J.J. Koski.
Sacramento State was never able to pull closer than seven points for the remainder of the game as Cal Poly secured its fifth win in the last six meetings between the two teams and its 10th in the last 12.
Dotson guided the Sacramento State offense for the second straight game. The sophomore averaged 6.8 yards per carry while toting the ball 22 times. He also had four receptions for 34 yards and finished the game with all-purpose yards. Over the last two games, the Antelope High School graduate has rushed for 383 yards and four touchdowns on 52 attempts. He's averaging 7.4 yards per carry and has not been caught behind the line of scrimmage on any attempt.
John McGill and Jaelin Ratliff each had four receptions to lead the team. McGill amassed 54 yards while Ratliff was close behind with 53. Pierre Williams had three catches for a team-high 83 yards and also scored on a 54-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Kevin Thomson set a career high with 322 passing yards but completed just 19-of-37 passes. Along with the TD pass to Williams, he hit Johnnie Rucker for a 21-yard strike late in the fourth quarter. The senior was also intercepted for the first time this season — his first since Sept. 30 of last season.
Immanuel Anderson and Caelan Barnes each had double-digit tackles to guide the defense. Anderson had 14 total stops, including a career high 11 solos and 1.5 tackles-for-loss to lead all players. Barnes finished with 10 stops for his first career 10-plus tackle game.
Sacramento State goes back on the road next week to face Southern Utah on Saturday, Oct, 13, at 5 p.m.
Head Coach Jody Sears on Cal Poly's triple option…
"That three-headed monster is a difficult thing to stop. A year ago we were able to handle it you have to tip your hat to them and countering that. Our execution was simply not good enough. We've had two weeks to prepare and there was not one play that we hadn't practiced for but we didn't execute and that falls on the coaches first, including myself."
On the offense…
"We were not good. We could not sustain drives. We had too many dropped balls and costly penalties which took a touchdown off the board."
On the overall performance…
"We knew it was going to be a tight game because (Cal Poly) is better than they were last year. I'd have to go back and watch the film but I think we were pressing a little bit. We need to teach our guys to be even-keeled and stay consistent."
12:49 - The Hornets took the opening kickoff and quickly moved down the field on six-play, 75-yard drive. The series began with a 29-yard pass to Johnnie Rucker and ended with Elijah Dotson carries of 9 and 10 yards.
5:47 - Cal Poly answered with a 16-play drive to tie the game. The Mustangs ran the ball on every play of the series and entered the end zone on a 1-yard rush from Protheroe. The team only had two carries over 10 yards but averaged 4.5 yards per carry during the drive.
3:53 - Sacramento State retook the lead just five plays later as Kevin Thomson hit Pierre Williams on a slant just across midfield. The freshman did the rest as he split a pair of defenders and recorded a 54-yard touchdown.
1:02 - The first quarter shootout continued as Cal Poly tied the score, 14-14. Quarterback Khaleel Jenkins kept the ball on 3rd-and-6 and went around the left edge for a 13-yard touchdown rush.
9:31 - After both teams were able to get their first stops of the game, Cal Poly took its first lead of the contest with a 70-yard punt return for a score by J.J. Koski. Owen Hoolihan's punt was field by Koski at the 30-yard line. He originally cut to his left before bringing it back to the right side of the field. The score was the first punt return allowed for a touchdown by the Hornets in over two years.
11:02 - Cal Poly took the opening drive of the third quarter and drove to the Hornet 13 yard line. However, the Sacramento State defense limited the Mustangs to a 31-yard field goal from Alex Vega to give CP a 24-14 lead.
8:36 - Devon Medeiros converted a 22-yard field goal to pull the Hornets back within a touchdown. Dotson had a 27-yard rush and Andre Lindsey hauled in a 31-yard pass and was the victim of a face mask penalty to take the ball inside the Mustang 10-yard line.
6:19 - After a 63-yard rush from CJ Cole brought the ball inside the 10-yard line, the Hornet defense was able to keep the Mustangs out of the end zone with three stops. Alex Vega capped the drive with a 20-yard field goal to make the score 27-17.
11:47 - After Kyle Shotwell picked off Kevin Thomson, Cal Poly stretched its lead to 34-17 with an 11-yard touchdown rush from Jenkins. The interception was the first for Thomson this season.
9:11 - Medeiros pulled Sacramento State within two scores with his second field goal of the game. The senior buried a 39-yard attempt to tie his career high for makes in a game.
7:39 - Koski ended all hopes of a Hornet comeback with his second long play of the game. Cal Poly faced 3rd-and-2 and ran the option to the right. Koski then took a toss for a reverse around the left side and stayed on his feet despite two tackle attempts for a 68-yard touchdown rush.
5:54 - Sacramento State wasn't done as the team orchestrated a 5-play, 79-yard drive in 1:38. Johnnie Rucker provided the score with a 21-yard catch. The Hornets also had three other catches of at least 16 yards during the series.