FOOTBALL RETURNS HOME TO FACE NORTHERN COLORADO ON SATURDAY

FOOTBALL RETURNS HOME TO FACE NORTHERN COLORADO ON SATURDAY

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A BRIEF PREVIEW

  • Through the first two weeks of the 2019 season, the Sacramento State football team has produced an electrifying offensive effort against Southern Oregon and a stellar defensive performance against Arizona State. This week, the team will face a fellow FCS team for the first time this season as it welcomes Northern Colorado to Hornet Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14. The game against the Bears will start at 6 p.m. and will be a non-conference contest despite the two teams both being members of the Big Sky.
  • The Hornets enter the week with a 1-1 overall record after a 19-7 loss at Arizona State last Friday night. Sacramento State trailed 12-7 with five minutes to play before ASU scored a late touchdown to put the game out of reach.
  • There will be multiple ways to follow this week's game. Hornet fans can tune in to ESPN 1320 AM to hear the radio call of Jason Ross, Steve McElroy and Danny Sullivan. Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com.
  • CW31 will televise the game in the Sacramento region and the game can be viewed live on Pluto.TV. Dave Lewis will handle the play-by-play and will be joined by former Hornet quarterback and Arena Football League record-holder Aaron Garcia (color).

OPPONENT PREVIEW: NORTHERN COLORADO

  • Northern Colorado is 0-2 but is the only school in the Big Sky to have played a pair of FBS teams this year. The Bears opened the year with a 35-18 loss at San Jose State before dropping a 59-17 game at Washington State on Saturday.
  • Jacob Knipp returns to lead the UNC offense. The sixth-year senior has missed parts of the last two years due to injuries but has been one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Sky when healthy. Last year, Knipp threw for 596 yards and four touchdowns and completed 64.8 percent of his passes. Milo Hall (190) and Jullen Ison (100) have each rushed for over 100 yards. Willie Fairman has a team-best 12 catches for 73 yards.
  • Jerone Jackson leads the Bear defense with 17 total tackles. Through two games this year, UNC has just one sack and four TFLs.
  • Earnest Collins, Jr., is in his ninth season as the head coach at Northern Colorado and his 10th in college football. Collins owns a 26-64 record at Northern Colorado.

AIRING IT OUT

  • A week after rushing 44 times and throwing only 23 times in the rout over Southern Oregon, Sacramento State flipped its script and took to the air at Arizona State. Kevin Thomson completed 32-of-50 passes to set career highs in both categories. Thomson finished with 263 passing yards and threw a touchdown pass.
  • The senior's 50 attempts ties him for ninth place in school single-game history and marked 13th time a Hornet QB has attempted at least 50 passes. His 32 completions gave him sole possession of 10th place and was the most since Nate Ketteringham had 34 against Montana State in 2016. Thomson's previous career highs were 19 completions and 37 attempts at Cal Poly in 2017.
  • Most notably, he was intercepted late in the fourth quarter, snapping a streak of 106 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. Thomson was last picked off against Cal Poly on Oct. 6, 2018.
  • Against the Sun Devils, Thomson completed passes to nine different receivers with running back Elijah Dotson leading the way with  a career high 10 receptions. Dotson became the first Hornet player to have double digit receptions since fellow running back Jordan Robinson also had 10 at Idaho State in 2016. Overall, Dotson's performance marked the 22nd time a Sacramento State played caught at least 10 passes in a game.
  • Sophomore Tao McClinton added to the list of firsts this season as he scored his first collegiate touchdown. McClinton finished the game with two grabs for 28 yards.
  • Pierre Williams followed his five reception, 140 yard, three touchdown performance against Southern Oregon with six catches for a team-high 72 yards at Arizona State. Williams currently leads the team with an average of 19.3 yards per reception and 106.0 yards per game.
  • Through the first two games, 10 different players have already caught a pass and eight have at least two receptions.

PUNCHING IT IN; KEEPING THEM OUT

  • Sacramento State remained perfect in the red zone this season when it scored on its one trip inside the 20-yard line at Arizona State. This year, the Hornets have scored seven touchdowns on seven drives inside the red zone. The team's perfect scoring percentage ties them for first place in the FCS along with 36 other teams.
  • A deeper dive shows Sacramento State is one of 12 schools to score touchdowns on each of its red zone possessions this year. Youngstown State (9) and Furman (8) are the only teams in the FCS to have more red zone touchdowns than the Hornets and a 1.000 percent TD success rate in the red zone.
  • Sacramento State is tied for 24th in red zone defense after holding the opposition to one touchdown and five field goals in eight red zone opportunities. The Hornets are one of just three FCS schools to only allow one touchdown when facing a minimum of five red zone drives joining Weber State (0 TD allowed in five drives) and South Carolina State (1 TD allowed in five drives). Sacramento State is the only school in the FCS to surrender just one touchdown in six or more opportunities.
  • The team's lone touchdown allowed inside the red zone came on the opening drive of the season when Southern Oregon scored on a 19-yard pass. Since that series, the Hornets have kept the opposition out of the end zone on its last seven drives inside the 20-yard line. Arizona State got as close as possible without getting a touchdown before Daron Bland hit A.J. Carter at the goal line to force a fumble which was recovered by Bland for a touchback.

NON-CONFERENCE CONFERENCE

  • When the Big Sky Conference expanded in 2012 with the addition of North Dakota, Southern Utah, UC Davis and Cal Poly it created an unbalanced schedule in the conference. In an attempt to fill remaining non-conference games, teams began scheduling Big Sky schools for games that did not count towards the conference standings.
  • Sacramento State has faced a fellow Big Sky foe for a non-conference game in each of the last seven years. The Hornets are 3-4 in those games with a pair of wins over Northern Colorado (2012, 2018) as well as a home win against Weber State (20014). Three of the four losses came against WSU (2015-17) and the other was an overtime loss at home to SUU (2013).
  • The streak of playing a league opponent in a non-league game will come to a close next year when the Hornets face Washington, San Diego State and Dixie State.

WORTH THE WAIT

  • Josiah Erickson played in five games as a true freshman for the Hornets in 2016 and finished the year with five total tackles. A year later, he tallied three sacks among five total tackles before his season came to a close with  an ankle injury at Eastern Washington during the fifth game of the season.
  • A knee injury kept him off the field for all of 2018 and led to speculation on whether he would play again. Erickson returned to the team this fall and started the season with a solo tackle against Southern Oregon. This past week, he recorded a career high five total tackles, including 2.5 for loss. Those TFLs are the most on the team through the first two games.

DOUBLING DOWN

  • Sacramento State has allowed 19 points in both games this season. The team's 19.0 points allowed per game is tied for the 22nd best in the FCS through the first two weeks. Among teams that have played at least one game against an FBS team, Sacramento State is sixth in scoring defense.
  • Allowing under 20 points in a game has been a rare feat in the explosive Big Sky Conference. The team last did it in 2010 when it closed the year by surrendering 10 at Northern Arizona, 15 against Portland State, 17 at Idaho State and 17 against UC Davis.
  • The last time Sacramento State started the year by holding the opposition under 20 points in back-to-back games came in 1998 at Saint Mary's (12) and against Cal Poly (14).

NO ASSISTANCE NEEDED

  • The top three tacklers on the team this year have combined with 35 tackles with 31 of the solo variety. Safety Allen Perryman leads the way with 13 total tackles (12 solo). Perryman also has two tackles-for-loss and an interception. Nickelback Marcus Bruce is one tackle behind Perryman. Bruce's total is comprised of nine solos and also has a TFL. Completing the trio is middle linebacker Marcus Hawkins who has 10 total tackles — all solos.
  • The trio all had seven tackles at Arizona State to tie for the team lead. Hawkins and Perryman each had seven solos and a TFL in the game.

CRASHING THE TOP 10

  • Kevin Thomson entered this season ranked just outside the top 10 in career passing yards and career passing touchdowns but crashed that list with a 303-yard, four touchdown performance against Southern Oregon and 263 yards at Arizona State.
  • In 17 career games, Thomson has thrown for 3,774  yards which places him into ninth in school history. His 30 career passing touchdowns ties him for eighth and moved him past his current position coach Bobby Fresques who tossed 27 between 1990-92.
  • Thomson is currently the all-time leader in two career passing categories. His career pass efficiency of 161.0 is well ahead of the second place mark of 146.5 set by Tony Trosin (1998). Thomson has also average 9.67 yards per pass attempt and is well beyond the second place average of 8.24 from Ricky Ray (1999-2000).
  • The Auburn, Wash., native is also 14th in career attempts (390) and in  completions (222), sixth in career completion percentage (.569) and third in career yards per game (222.0).
  • Below is where Thomson ranks among the school's all-time leaders:
    Career Passing Yards    Total    Needs
    6. Ricky Ray (1999-2000)    4,622    848
    7. Greg Knapp (1982-85)    3,806    32
    8. Drew Wyant (1986-89)    3,800    26
    9. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    3,774    ---

    Career Passing Touchdowns    Total    Needs
    6. Ricky Ray (1999-2000)    33    3
    7. Greg Knapp (1982-85)    32    2
    8. Jeff Fleming (2010-11)    30    ---
        Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    30    ---

BUSY SUMMER FOR DOTSON

  • Junior running back Elijah Dotson added to his already lengthy resume with a handful more accolades over the summer. A year after being named first team all-Big Sky and FCS Sophomore All-American, Dotson landed on the Big Sky preseason team and was a second team preseason All-American by HERO Sports and Phil Steele.
  • Dotson has been uncharacteristically quiet in the run game during the first two games. He has 70 rushing yards on 18 attempts (3.9 yards per carry) and has scored a pair of touchdowns. Conversely, he has become a top target in the passing game with a team high 14 receptions for 135 yards and a score. 
  • Dotson was the catalyst for the Sacramento State offense last season, leading the team with 1,154 rushing yards, nine touchdowns and 1,314 all-purpose yards. He became the first Hornet running back to earn first team all-Big Sky honors since Charles Roberts who did it three years in a row (1998-2000). Dotson's average of 115.4 yards per game was the third highest in school history while his total of 1.154 yards placed him seventh despite the team playing on 10 games during the regular season. He also moved into fifth place in school history with an average of 6.2 yards per carry.
  • Dotson has already rushed for 1,699 yards which places him ninth at Sacramento State. His 16 career rushing touchdowns rank seventh, his average of 5.97 yards per carry places him third and his average of 73.9 rushing yards per game is seventh.
  • Below is where the Antelope HS ranks in the Sacramento State record book:
    Career Rushing Yards    Total    Needs
    8. Garrett Safron (2011-14)    1,906    207
    9. Elijah Dotson (2017-pres.)    1,699    ---

    Career Rushing Touchdowns    Total    Needs
    T5. Jordan Robinson (2013-16)    25    9
    T5. Troy Mills (1990-91)    25    9
    7. Elijah Dotson (2017-pres.)    16    ---

KICKING IT A LITTLE LONGER

  • With his extra year of eligibility, Devon Medeiros will continue his climb up the Hornet scoring list. Medeiros is currently third in career field goals, tied for second in extra points and third in career scoring by kickers.
  • Medeiros tied the school single season record in 2017 with 14 field goals and ranked second with 52 PATs and was named second team all-Big Sky. Last season, he was 10-of-15 on field goals with a long of 39 and converted all 26 of his extra points.
  • Career Scoring    Total    Needs
    1. Scott Brown (1996-99)    239    66
    2. Juan Gamboa (2005-08)    203    30
    3. Devon Medeiros (2015-pres.)    173    ---

    Career Field Goals    Total    Needs
    1. Scott Brown (1996-99)    44    18
    2. Juan Gamboa (2005-08)    36    10
    3. Devon Medeiros (2015-pres.)    26    ---

    Career PATs    Total    Needs
    1. Scott Brown (1996-99)    107    12
    2. Juan Gamboa (2005-08)    95    ---
        Devon Medeiros (2015-pres.)    95    ---

INCREASED WORK LOAD

  • After only being called upon one time against Southern Oregon, Sam Clark had seven punts at Arizona State. Clark averaged 41.7 yards per punt and had a long of 56 yards against the Sun Devils. He also placed two punts inside the 20-yard line.
  • Clark had never played in a football game until taking the field against SOU. He grew up playing Australian Rules Football with the Canberra Demons and was part of Pro Kick Australia.
  • The sophomore showed his athleticism when he was able to corral an errant snap, elude the oncoming rush and booming his 56-yarder which flipped the field.

QUICK HITTERS

  • CB Caelan Barnes, DB Marcus Bruce, DT Dariyn Choates, RB Elijah Dotson, OL Wyatt Ming and QB Kevin Thomson were named team captains following a vote of the players.
    Dotson is the only player on the team with a start streak which predates last season. Dotson started the final game of 2017 before earning the nod in all 10 games a year ago.
    The 2019 Sacramento State football schedule was named the toughest in the Big Sky Conference and the ninth most difficult in the FCS by HERO Sports. The Hornets will play FBS Arizona State and Fresno State in the non-conference portion of its schedule before facing eight of the top nine ranked teams from the preseason Big Sky poll in conference play. The team's four home games will come against schools picked to finished 1-4 in both the preseason and media poll.
  • Four Sacramento State players were granted additional years of eligibility by the NCAA during the spring. The four, who were all listed as seniors in 2018, are comprised of kicker Devon Medeiros, offensive guard Wyatt Ming, defensive end George Obinna and quarterback Kevin Thomson. Ming played in just one game last season and Obinna in only two due to injuries. Medeiros was granted the extension after he was limited to two games during 2016. Thomson was given a nearly unprecedented two years of additional eligibility meaning he will go from being listed as a senior during the 2018 season to a junior in 2019. He missed his first three years of collegiate football due to an elbow injury.
  • Ming, Medeiros and Thomson are two of six players on the 2019 roster that have already earned their bachelor's degree. They are joined by offensive lineman Nick Bianco and graduate transfers Isaiah Bailey and Joey Lewis.
  • The 77 points scored by Sacramento State in the season opener were the most in program history and tied for the most in the FCS this season.
  • The 2019 defensive coaching staff may be new to the Hornets but they are no strangers to the Big Sky Conference. The trio of Andy Thompson (DC/LB), Cherokee Valeria (secondary) and Kraig Paulson (DL) own a combined 50 years as experience as coaches and players in the conference.
  • The offensive staff is on the opposite end of the spectrum for Big Sky experience as running backs coach James Montgomery is in his sixth year with the team and head coach Troy Taylor spent one year as the OC at Eastern Washington.
HORNETS IN THE PROS: SEPT. 4-11
September 13, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: SEPT. 4-11