TEMPE, Ariz. — The Sacramento State defense stymied Arizona State for most of the game and the Hornets pulled within a score late in the fourth quarter before the Sun Devils pulled away for a 19-7 win at Sun Devil Stadium on Friday night.
With the win, ASU improved to 2-0 on the season. The Hornets evened their record at 1-1.
"Our guys played hard, hung in the game and had a chance to win at the end," Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said. "I'm proud of how they prepared and competed."
The first half was a defensive battle as the two teams combined for just 209 total yards. The Hornets had the edge in total yards (131-78), rushing yards (44-16), passing yards (87-62), first downs (8-4) and time of possession (18:05-11:55). However, it was the Sun Devils that took a 3-0 lead into the locker room following a 36-yard field goal from Cristian Zendejas with 1:57 left in the second quarter.
Sacramento State had a pair of long drives during the half but could not break through. The first was a 14-play, 60-yard series which ended when the team was stopped on fourth down. The second came early in the second half and used 11 plays before the team was forced to punt.
Arizona State appeared to score the first points of the game early in the second quarter when A.J. Carter caught a Jayden Daniels pass just outside the goal line and was hit by Daron Bland. The ball was jarred loose and Bland came up with the football. The play was reviewed and the call on the field stood resulting in a touchback. That series was set up by a 38-yard punt return from Brandon Aiyuk which gave ASU 1st-and-goal from the 9.
Arizona State extended its lead early in the second half with a 26 yard field goal from Zendejas. The Sun Devils pushed the lead to 9-0 win a 35-yarder with 4:57 left in the third quarter. During the period. ASU held the Hornets to just 10 yards of offense on nine plays.
The fourth quarter scoring began with a 26-yarder from Zendajas to make the score 12-0. From there, the Hornets made it interesting as Sacramento State drove 72 yards on seven plays before Thomson found Tao McClinton for a 9-yard touchdown pass. During the series, the team took advantage of a third-down pass interference penalty to keep the drive alive. BJ Perkinson then rushed for 12 yards and Thomson connected with Pierre Williams for a 40-yard strike to take the ball to the 9-yard line.
ASU, however, answered with a big play of their own as Daniels threw a middle screen to Eno Benjamin and the running the back did the rest of the damage on way to a 72-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-7.
Sacramento State's final chance to score came as time expired as Williams was able to bring down a 28-yard pass but was ruled out of the end zone as time expired.
Thomson finished the day 32-of-50 for 264 yards and a touchdown along with an interception. Williams led the team's receivers with 72 receiving yards on six catches. Elijah Dotson had a career high 10 receptions for 63 receiving yards and also rushed for 32 yards on 11 carries.
Marcus Hawkins, Allen Perryman and Marcus Bruce each had seven tackles to tie for the team lead. Sacramento State combined for nine tackles-for-loss with Josiah Erickson leading the team with 2.5.
The Hornets return home to face Northern Colorado in a non-league matchup between two Big Sky Conference teams on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m.
- The 19 points were the fewest allowed by Sacramento State against an FBS opponent since the team began regularly playing FBS teams in 2002.
- ASU's 91 rushing yards were the fewest by an FBS opponent since 2002.
- The last Hornet to catch 10 passes in a game was running back Jordan Robinson who had 10 at Idaho State in 2016.
- Devon Medeiros moved into a tie for second place in school history with 95 career PATs.
- Thomson's 32 completions and 50 attempts were both career highs. His previous bests were 19 completions and 37 attempts against Cal Poly last season.