FOOTBALL HEADS SOUTH TO TAKE ON FRESNO STATE ON SATURDAY

FOOTBALL HEADS SOUTH TO TAKE ON FRESNO STATE ON SATURDAY

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A BRIEF PREVIEW

  • The Sacramento State football team will play its final non-conference game of the season as it takes the short trip to Fresno State for a Saturday night game at Bulldog Stadium. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. with temperatures expected to be in the high 80s.
  • The Hornets improved to 2-1 following a 50-0 shutout win over Northern Colorado last Saturday. Sacramento State dominated the game, scoring seven touchdowns and a safety and outgaining UNC 614-171.
  • This week will mark the second contest the team will play against an FBS opponent. Sacramento State travelled to Arizona State on Friday, Sept. 6, and fell to the Sun Devils, 19-7. The last time the Hornets played two FBS opponents in the same season came in 2013 when it played at San Jose State and Arizona State.
  • 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.
  • This week's game will also be streamed live on Facebook with Ari Wolfe on the play-by-play and former Fresno State and NFL quarterback David Carr providing the color.

OPPONENT PREVIEW: FRESNO STATE

  • Fresno State enters this week with an 0-2 record after losses at USC and at home in overtime to Minnesota. The Bulldogs, whose two losses have been by a combined 11 points, had a bye last weekend.
  • Fresno State won the Mountain West title last season and finished the year with a 12-2 overall record and a 7-1 mark in MWC games. The team went on to defeat Arizona State, 31-20, to win the Las Vegas Bowl.
  • Jorge Reyna has taken over as the team's starting quarterback this season and is averaging 272.0 passing yards per game while completing 58.1 percent of his passes. Reyna has thrown five touchdowns and been intercepted three times. He is also a threat to run as he ranks second on the team with 69 rushing yards and has the team's lone rushing TD. His favorite targets have been Zane Pope and running back Ronnie Rivers who have each caught nine passes in two games. Derrion Grim has seven receptions for 168 yards and is averaging 24.0 yards per reception. Rivers leads the rushing attack with 129 yards and is averaging for 64.5 yards per game. He has lost just 4 yards on 29 attempts this season.
  • Jeff Tedford is currently in his third year leading his alma mater. Tedford quickly turned around a program which went 1-11 in 2016 and has gone 22-8 under his watch.

NOTHING TO TALK ABOUT

  • The shutout of Northern Colorado was the 29th in program history and the first since a 14-0 win at UNC on Oct. 8, 2011. That game will long be remembered because the Hornets did not attempt a pass during the contest which was played in torrential rain and on a muddy field.
  • Sacramento State's last shut out at home came against San Francisco State (which no longer sponsors football), 30-0 on Sept. 10, 1994.
  • The past weekend's game was the third-largest margin of victory in a shutout in program history. Only a 76-0 win over USF in 1968 and 60-0 victory over Cal Lutheran in 1988 were larger.

CHOATES NAMED BIG SKY POTW

  • Sacramento State defensive tackle Dariyn Choates was selected as the ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week following the team's win over Northern Colorado. The honor was the first for Choates during his career and he became the first Hornet defensive lineman to earn the award since Zack Nash in 2010.
  • Choates, a team co-captain, sparked a Hornet defense which limited Northern Colorado to just 171 yards of total offense in Sacramento State's 50-0 win. The Seaside, Calif., native recorded a career-high six tackles, including 3.5 for loss. He also forced a pair of fumbles and broke up a pass.
  • One of Choates' biggest plays came with 5:55 remaining in the first half when he brought down UNC running back Milo Hall in the end zone for a safety which gave Sacramento State a 16-0 lead. The safety was the first for the Hornets since 2017.
  • Through three games this season, Choates has 12 total tackles has already eclipsed his total from last season. His career high of 24 came during 2016 and he added 23 the following year where he was named honorable mention all-Big Sky.

THREE GAME INDICATORS

  • Sacramento State's total of 134 points scored through the first three games of the season is the most by any team in program history. The Hornets began the year with a school record 77 against Southern Oregon and added seven at Arizona State. That total saw a significant jump last week with 50 at the hands of Northern Colorado.
  • This year's team is the sixth to score at least 100 points through three games at Sacramento State. Each of the previous five finished the year with winning records, including the 1988 team which scored 124 in its first three games. That team ended the year with a 10-3 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Div. II semifinals.
  • The team's average of 44.7 points per game is the third best in the FCS this year. Houston Baptist leads the pack at 48.3 points per game and is followed by North Dakota State at 47.3.
  • On the opposite side of the ball, the Hornets rank fifth in the FCS in scoring defense at 12.7 points per game. Davidson leads the FCS at 9.0 points allowed per game. The only other team in the top five, other than Sacramento State, to have faced an FBS team this year is Kennesaw State which ranks third overall at 11.0.
  • The 38 points surrendered through three weeks is the fifth lowest total in school history. The last time Sacramento State allowed less in its first three games was in 1992 where the team started the year 3-0 with a 10-7 win against Montana State, a 57-9 home win against Abilene Christian and a 29-3 win at Cal State Fullerton.
  • The 1964 team holds the mark for fewest points allowed in the opening three games as the team shutout Whittier and Santa Clara before losing 18-15 at Long Beach State. That team went on to post an 8-2-1 overall record and win the Far Western Conference with a 4-0-1 mark.

SHARING IS CARING

  • Sacramento State has had 13 different players score a point this season en route to its record-setting output. Ten different players have scored a touchdown, two kickers have been used for extra points and Dariyn Choates added a safety last week which is officially credited to the team.
  • Only four players have scored multiple touchdowns with running backs Elijah Dotson and Marcus Fulcher leading the way with four each. Dotson has rushed for two TDs and also caught a pair while Fulcher has a team-high three rushing scores and has one TD reception.
  • Wide receiver Pierre Williams hauled in all three of his receiving touchdowns in the season opener against Southern Oregon and running back BJ Perkinson has a pair of scores inside the 5-yard line.
  • Marshel Martin is the only other offensive player with more than six points as he had a two-point conversion against SOU before scoring his first career TD last week against UNC.
  • Seven players have caught at least one touchdown pass with each coming from Kevin Thomson who has 10 on the year. Thomson has also rushed for a score.
  • Kickers Devon Medeiros and Kyle Sentkowski have combined for 16 points all on PATs. The pair each missed a field goal try last week in their first attempts of the year.

NOT MUCH ROOM TO RUN

  • Part of the team's defensive success has been its ability to limit the run. Sacramento State is currently third in the FCS in rush defense, allowing a paultry 59.3 yards per game. The Hornets' average is the best among any team that has played an FBS opponent this year.
  • While the sample size is small, the improvement is staggering from last year's average of 203.7 rushing yards allowed per game. The Hornets have not allowed more than 91 rushing yards in a game this season and has only given up one rush longer than 25 yards.
  • This past week was the team's stingiest performance of the young season. Sacramento State limited Northern Colorado to 39 yards on 28 carries for an average of 1.4 yards per rush. The majority of the yardage came on two carries as Milo Hall had a 14-yard gain and Jullen Ison had a long of 13. Without those two rushes, the Bears averaged 0.5 yards on its remaining 26 rush attempts.

QUIET LEADER

  • Allen Perryman has embraced his role as the team's starting strong safety. The senior has been the most consistent member of the defense, recording at least five tackles in all three games and leading the Hornets with 18 total tackles.
  • Perryman's total includes 15 solo tackles and two tackles for loss. He also is one of six members of the team to have an interception this year.
  • The Lemoore, Calif., native made his first career start as a true freshman at Fresno State to start the 2016 season. His sophomore season was limited to five games due to an injury before he played in all 10 games last year, starting four.
  • Perryman recorded a career high with 38 tackles a year ago, including three for loss. He also pulled down his first interception. His 18 tackles this season are already more than he had as a freshman (10) and sophomore (12).

IT COULDN'T LAST FOREVER

  • Sacramento State had its perfect streak of scoring a touchdown inside the red zone come to a close early in the game against Northern Colorado. The Hornets had found the end zone on its first seven trips inside the 20-yard line. Not only did Sacramento State not score a touchdown, the team came up empty handed as a 21-yard field goal missed wide left.
  • Despite changing kickers, the same thing happened on the next series as Sacramento State took the ball to the UNC 15-yard line only to miss a second short field goal. From there, the team got back into its rhythm, scoring six touchdowns on its next six red zone trips.
  • This year, Sacramento State has scored touchdowns on 13 of its 15 red zone appearances. However, its .867 scoring success rate dropped the Hornets from first to 38th place in the FCS. The Hornets' 13 red zone touchdowns is tied with Youngstown State for the most in the FCS.
  • Sacramento State is tied for 18th 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 two FCS schools to only allow one touchdown when facing a minimum of eight red zone drives joining Weber State (0 TD allowed in 10 drives).
  • 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.

CRASHING THE TOP 10

  • Kevin Thomson entered this season ranked just outside the top 10 in career passing yards and career passing touchdowns but has skyrocketed up the list after the first three games of the year.
  • In 18 career games, Thomson has thrown for 4,135  yards which places him seventh in school history. His 35 career passing touchdowns moved him into fourth place and is just three shy of third.
  • Thomson is currently the all-time leader in two career passing categories. His career pass efficiency of 162.0 is well ahead of the second place mark of 146.5 set by Tony Trosin (1998). Thomson has also averaged 9.59 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 (431), tied for 12th in  completions (249), fifth in career completion percentage (.578) and third in career yards per game (229.7).
    Thomson has set his career highs for completions (32), attempts (50) and yards (361) and tied his high for passing touchdowns (5) in the last two weeks.
  • Below is where Thomson ranks among the school's all-time leaders:

    Career Passing Yards    Total    Needs
    6. Ricky Ray (1999-2000)    4,622    487
    7. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    4,135    ---

    Career Passing Touchdowns    Total    Needs
    1. Garrett Safron (2011-14)    86    51
    2. Ryan Leadingham (2001-04)    50    15
    3. Jason Smith (2007-09)    38    3
    4. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    35    ---

DUAL-THREAT 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.
  • While Dotson has only received 25 carries through the first three games this year, he has become one of the top receivers with 21 receptions for 293 yards. Overall, his 381 all-purpose yards are the most on the team and he's averaging 8.28 yards per touch.
  • Last season, Dotson led 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.
  • 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    ---

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 offensive line did not allow a sack in the first two victories of the year.
  • 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