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FOOTBALL BACK HOME TO PLAY #22 EASTERN WASHINGTON IN BLACKOUT GAME

FOOTBALL BACK HOME TO PLAY #22 EASTERN WASHINGTON IN BLACKOUT GAME

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A BRIEF PREVIEW

  • After a well-deserved week off, the Sacramento State football team will start its 2019 Big Sky Conference schedule by hosting Eastern Washington on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Hornet Stadium. The game will kick off at 6:05 p.m. and is being marketed as a "blackout" with the Hornets wearing black uniforms and fans encouraged to wear black as well. Saturday will also be Kids Day presented by Chick-Fil-A. All kids age 12 and under will receive complimentary admission.
  • This year's game marks the latest start to Big Sky play since Sacramento State joined the league in 1996. The latest the Hornets previously played a conference game was Oct. 2 at Northern Arizona in 2004. Sacramento State and Weber State were the only two schools to not play a conference game last weekend.
  • The Hornets are 2-2 overall following a 34-20 loss at Fresno State on Sept. 21. Sacramento State tied the game, 20-20, following a touchdown and two-point conversion with 12:05 left in the fourth quarter. However, the Bulldogs tacked on two late touchdowns to pull away for the win.
  • 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). The broadcast will also be shown nationwide on Eleven Sports.

OPPONENT PREVIEW: EASTERN WASHINGTON

  • Eastern Washington started it's conference season by playing a Big Sky game which only counted for one team. The Eagles used six turnovers to defeat North Dakota, 35-20, at Roos Field. The game against the Fighting Hawks counted towards EWU's conference record while UND is classified as independent this season.
  • After taking over the starting job late last season, Eric Barriere has continued the long line of elite quarterbacks for the Eagles. Barriere is completing  60.0 percent of his passes and has 13 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He's also rushed for four scores. Antoine Custer, Jr., leads the team with 448 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
  • Aaron Best is in his third season as the Eagles' head coach. Best has been a part of the Eastern Washington program for 22 seasons and was the 2018 FCS Coach of the Year by HERO Sports.

FROM THE BEGINNING

  • Saturday's game against Eastern Washington will mark the 24th season in which the Hornets will compete in the Big Sky Conference.
  • The first game of league play has not been kind to the team as Sacramento State has gone 5-18. Four of the five wins have come at Hornet Stadium where the team is 4-7 all-time when opening conference play at home.
  • The schedule maker has not made it easy for the team as it has opened against a ranked Big Sky opponent 10 times, including four in the top 10.
  • Saturday will mark the third time the Hornets have opened the season against the Eagles. All three meetings have come at Hornet Stadium.
  • Below are the results of Big Sky season openers.
    Date    Opponent    Result
    Sept. 28, 1996    #2 Montana    L, 35-17
    Sept. 27, 1997    at #1 Montana    L, 52-10
    Sept. 26, 1998    at Montana State    L, 37-30
    Sept. 25, 1999    Montana State    L, 41-10
    Sept. 16, 2000    #9 Portland State    L, 35-23
    Sept. 22, 2001    Idaho State    W, 33-27
    Sept. 28, 2002    at Idaho State    L, 32-24
    Sept. 27, 2003    #12 Idaho State    W, 47-21
    Oct. 2, 2004    at #20 Northern Arizona    L, 26-0
    Sept. 17, 2005    at Portland State    L, 28-12
    Sept. 23, 2006    at #5 Montana    L, 59-15
    Sept. 15, 2007    at Portland State    L, 35-24
    Sept. 20, 2008    Weber State    L, 32-27
    Sept. 26, 2009    #19 Eastern Wash.    L, 56-30
    Sept. 18, 2010    #21 Weber State    W, 24-17
    Sept. 17, 2011    at Weber State    L, 49-17
    Sept. 22, 2012    North Dakota    L, 35-13
    Sept. 28. 2013    at Weber State    W, 31-3
    Sept. 27, 2014    at Idaho State    L, 44-24
    Sept. 26, 2015    #11 Eastern Wash.    L, 28-20
    Sept. 24, 2016    at Idaho State    L, 42-34
    Sept. 23, 2017    Southern Utah    W, 54-27
    Sept. 22, 2019    at Montana    L, 41-34

BYE-BYE, BYE

  • For the second consecutive season, Sacramento State had its bye following the fourth week of the season. Unlike years past, the team maintained its normal practice schedule during the open week
  • Sacramento State had won two consecutive games immediately following a bye before that streak was halted last season. The Hornets defeated Portland State, 42-34, in 2016 and topped Idaho State, 41-21, in 2017. Last year, Cal Poly's option attack proved to be too much as the Mustangs won 41-27 at Hornet Stadium.
  • The two wins in 2016 and 2017 reversed a streak in which Sacramento State had not won in the week following a bye since upsetting No. 12 Idaho State, 47-21, on Sept. 27, 2003. In the Hornets' defense, the team has faced a ranked opponent in seven of those 11 games, including three which were in the top 10.
  • The Hornets did have a pair of overtime losses during the  stretch, falling at home against 12th-ranked Montana (51-48) in 2013 and Eastern Washington (42-35) in 2011.
  • The team did not have a bye in 2004 or 2005.

DOUBLING DOWN

  • Through the first four games of the season, Sacramento State has already attempted four two-point conversions. The team was successful following its first touchdown of the season against Southern Oregon with a pass to Marshel Martin. The Hornets also attempted a pass against the Raiders but were stopped short of the goal line.
  • In the most recent game at Fresno State, the team attempted a pair of two-point tries and again were able to convert half of them. Sacramento State first tried a pass to Marqui Johnson who was brought down just outside of the end zone. BJ Perkinson later tied the game, 20-20, when he rushed in during the fourth quarter.
  • The four two-point tries are already the third-most for the Hornets since 2010. Sacramento State's high during that period came in 2012 when it went 5-for-7. In 2016, the Hornets were successful on 2-of-5 attempts.
  • The team did not attempt a two-point conversion the last two seasons. However, Sacramento State did score one as Allen Perryman returned a block extra point for a defensive two-point conversion in 2018.

BIANCO NAMED CAMPBELL SEMIFINALIST

  • Senior offensive lineman Nick Bianco was named as one of the 185 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, it was announced on Sept. 25. The award recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.
  • Bianco has started all four games this season at left guard and has made 25 starts during his career. He has already graduated with a degree in kinesiology and would like to pursue a future in teaching and coaching at the high school level.
  • The National Football Foundation will announce 12-14 finalists on Oct. 30, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 2019 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class presented by Fidelity Investments. The winner will have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.

BREAK ON THROUGH

  • George Obinna tied a career high with eight total tackles and claimed residency in the Fresno State backfield with a career high tying 2.5 sacks last Saturday. His total tackles matched his mark at Cal Poly as a freshman in 2015. His 2.5 sacks tied his output against Idaho State in 2017.
  • Playing in front of his former position coach Will Plemons and coordinator Sammy Lawanson, respectively the d-line coach and defensive analyst at Fresno State, Obinna was a disruptive force for Sacramento State. He had four solo tackles amongst his total and was also credited for a quarterback hurry.
  • Obinna was a first team all-Big Sky selection in 2017 and entered last season having been named to three preseason FCS All-America teams as well as preseason all-Big Sky. He suffered an injury in the first game against Saint Francis and returned two weeks later at Northern Colorado where he was lost for the season with an ankle injury.
  • Below is where Obinna ranks in the Sacramento State record book:
    Career Sacks    Total    Needs
    1. Zack Nash (2008-11)    29.5    6.5
    2. Mike Brannon (2005-08)    27.5    4.5
    3. Kelly Osborn (1981-84)    25.5    2.5
    4. George Obinna (2015-pres.)    23.0    ---

    Career Tackles-For-Loss    Total    Needs
    5. Zack Nash (2008-11)    40.5    9.0
    6. Cyrus Mulitalo (2005-08)    32.0    0.5
    T7. Ben Sorensen (2014-17)    31.5    ---
    T7. George Obinna (2015-pres.)    31.5    ---   

JOINING RARE COMPANY

  • Redshirt freshman Marshel Martin has caught 10 passes for 162 yards this season. Martin's 16.2 yards per catch ranks second on the team behind Pierre Williams (18.2) but it is his knack for getting into the end zone that has pushed him into a rare category for the Hornets.
  • Martin scored his first career touchdown with a 6-yard reception against Northern Colorado. He then had 47-yard touchdown catch up the middle of the field at Fresno State for the longest reception of his career. He became just the 10th Hornet tight end to have multiple TD receptions in the same season since 2004.
  • The high during the last 15 seasons belongs to TJ Knowles and Cole Hikutini who each had five scores in 2012 and 2013, respectively. McRueben Fleurinord is only player to do it in two seasons as he had four touchdowns in 2005 and two in 2004. The other tight ends with multiple receiving TDs are: Matt Carter (4, 2010), Chris Broadnax (2, 2014), Reese Heaslett (2, 2010), Brian Heath (2, 2009) and Tommy Briggs (2, 2005).
  • Chris Kelly holds the school's Div. I-era tight end record with six touchdown catches in 1999. Kelly had four of those six in an overtime loss to Montana which at the time set the school single-game record.

CAREER NIGHT FOR PERRYMAN

  • 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 four games and leading the Hornets with 30 total tackles.
  • Playing in front of dozens of friends and family at Fresno State, the Lemoore, Calif., native paced the Hornets with  a career high12 tackles, 11 solo. Along with leading the team in total tackles, Perryman is tied for 11th in the Big Sky with 7.5 tackles per game.
  • Perryman recorded a career high with 38 tackles a year ago, including three for loss. He also pulled down his first interception. His 30 tackles this season are already more than he had as a freshman (10) and sophomore (12) seasons combined.

RESETING THE CLOCK

  • 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 four games of the year.
  • Thomson is currently the all-time leader in two career passing categories. His career pass efficiency of 159.2 is well ahead of the second place mark of 146.5 set by Tony Trosin (1998). Thomson has also averaged 9.25 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 11th in career attempts (472), 10th in  completions (271), tied for fifth in career completion percentage (.574) and third in career yards per game (229.9).
  • Thomson has set his career highs for completions (32), attempts (50) and yards (361) and tied his high for passing touchdowns (5) this season.
  • Below is where Thomson ranks among the school's all-time leaders:
    Career Passing Yards    Total    Needs
    5. Tony Corbin (1995-96)    4,866    498
    6. Ricky Ray (1999-2000)    4,622    254
    7. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    4,368    ---

    Career Passing Touchdowns    Total    Needs
    1. Garrett Safron (2011-14)    86    48
    2. Ryan Leadingham (2001-04)    50    12
    3. Jason Smith (2007-09)    38    ---
        Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    38    ---

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 30 carries through the first four games this year, he has become one of the top receivers with 27 receptions for 314 yards. Overall, his 411 all-purpose yards are the most on the team and he's averaging 7.21 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    181
    9. Elijah Dotson (2017-pres.)    1,725    ---

    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.
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