Posted: Oct 22, 2019
A BRIEF PREVIEW
- Winners of three in a row and off to its best start in its Big Sky Conference era, the Sacramento State football team will head south to play at Cal Poly on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Spanos Stadium. The game against the Mustangs will kick off at 5 p.m.
- The Hornets are 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big Sky with all three wins coming over teams which were ranked in the top 25 at the time. The team is ranked seventh in this weeks STATS FCS media poll and eighth in the AFCA FCS coaches poll. Both of those marks are the highest since the team moved to Div. I-AA/FCS in 1993.
- Sacramento State most recently improved to 4-0 at home with a 49-22 win over No. 5 Montana. The Hornets only trailed for less than two minutes of the game and posted just its second win over the Griz in 22 attempts. Quarterback Kevin Thomson threw for four touchdowns and rushed for two scores to spark the offense while the defense had nine TFLs, including six sacks, and limited the high-powered UM offense.
- 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.
- The game will also be streamed on Pluto.TV with a simulcast of the Cal Poly radio crew. Chris Sylvester will be on the play-by-play with Vernon (Veejay) Huskey on color.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: CAL POLY
- Cal Poly always provides a unique challenge for opposing defenses as the Mustangs are one of the few teams to run the triple option offense. This year, Cal Poly leads the Big Sky with 252.9 rushing yards per game. The team has 406 rush attempts in seven games with the next closest team at 357 despite playing one more game. Duy Tran Sampson leads the conference with an average of 98.1 rushing yards per game. He has 151 attempts this season for 687 yards and has lost only one yard during the year.
- While the rushing attack is always stout, quarterback Jalen Hamler has made the opposition respect the pass. Hamler is 51-of-80 during the year for 955 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He is also the second leading rusher on the team with 412 yards but leads the Mustangs with seven rushing touchdowns.
- Matt Shotwell is the leading tackler with 61 total stops, including six for loss. He also has an interception.
- Tim Walsh is in his 11th season as the head coach at Cal Poly. Walsh has previously coached against the Hornets while guiding Sonoma State and Portland State.
THOMSON REPEATS AS POTW
- A week after earning the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week award, quarterback Kevin Thomson took it a step further. Thomson was named the FCS Offensive Player of the Week by STATS and College Sports Madness and also took home the co-Big Sky award with Weber State running back Josh Davis.
- Against Montana, Thomson completed 24-of-34 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for two scores. Thomson had touchdown passes 44, 16, 40 and 39 yards while throwing touchdowns to four different receivers. He also rushed in from 7 and 2 yards.
- The junior is one of three Sacramento State quarterbacks to be named FCS national player of the week and the first two earn the award twice. His previous instance came in 2017 against Southern Utah where he rushed for four touchdowns and threw three to set the school record. The other two QBs were Jeff Fleming and Garrett Safron following victories at Oregon State and Colorado, respectively.
- This season, Thomson has thrown for at least three touchdowns in six of the team's seven games. He has also rushed for seven TDs, including six in the last three games. He leads the FCS with 26.0 points responsible for per game. His 23 passing touchdowns are already tied for the third most in school single-season history while his 48 career TDs are the third most in program history. Thomson has also accounted for 64 career touchdowns (48 passing, 16 rushing) which is the second most all-time at Sacramento State.
Single Season Passing TDs Total Needs
1. Garrett Safron (2014) 34 11
2. Garrett Safron (2013) 27 4
T3. Jeff Fleming (2013) 23 --
T3. Kevin Thomson (2019) 23 ---
Points Responsible For Per Game Pts PPG
1. Kevin Thomson, Sacramento State 182 26.0
2. Reid Sinnett, San Diego 150 25.0
3. Jack Cook, Dayton 138 23.0
TWICE AS NICE
- Devon Medeiros joined Thomson as a Big Sky award recipient after being named the Special Teams Player of the Week. Medeiros made two field goals and all five of his extra point attempts to account for 11 points. He also had five touchbacks and helped place Montana in a long field with his kickoffs.
- The senior made field goals of 34 and 32 yards for the first successful attempts by the team this season. Medeiros now has sole possession of third place in school history with 28 career field goals.
- Against the Griz, Medeiros became the all-time Hornet leader in career PATs with 111. That mark moved him past Scott Brown who had 107 between 1996-99.
- Medeiros and Thomson became the first Sacramento State duo to be named conference player of the week in the same week since Cyrus Mulitalo (defense) and Mitch Lively (special teams) at Eastern Washington in 2006.
- Sacramento State improved to seventh in the STATS FCS media poll and eighth in the AFCA FCS coaches poll following the win over then-No. 5 Montana. The Hornets are now ranked for consecutive weeks for the second time since moving to Div. I in 1993.
- The No. 7 ranking is the highest for Sacramento State in program history. The previous high was 12th in 2011 after winning at Oregon State.
- The Hornets are now 2-6 all-time when ranked and earned their first win at home in just two tries.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
- Sacramento State has started Big Sky play with a 3-0 record for the first time since becoming a member of the league in 1996. In fact, prior to this year, the only other time the team began 2-0 was 2013.
- The last Hornet team to open up conference play 3-0 was in 1995 where the team won the American West Conference title with a 3-0 mark.
- In 1986, Sacramento State began the Western Football Conference with a 4-0 record and finished 5-1 in league. The 1969 team was also 4-0 in the Far Western Conference before finishing 5-1.
- In 1966, Sacramento State went 6-0 to win the FWC. The only other occurrence came in 1964 where the team was 4-0 and finished 4-0-1.
DOUBLE CENTURY DOUBLE
- Pierre Williams and Elijah Dotson each went over the century mark in receiving yards in the same game for the second time this season. The pair are just the fifth duo to have two games with each player tallying 100 receiving yards in school history.
- Against Montana, Williams had 153 yards and Dotson added 124 with both pulling down eight receptions. Williams wasted little time hitting his mark as he had 107 receiving yards in the first quarter with the help of a 44-yard touchdown.
- Earlier this season, Dotson had 158 receiving yards and Williams contributed 115 in the 50-0 shutout of Northern Colorado.
- The other combos to record the achievement are DeAndre Carter and Nnamdi Agude; Carter and Morris Norrise; Scott Towne and Lamont Webb; and Carlos Smith and Sheridan Mitchell.
SEASON OF FIRSTS
- The first half of the 2019 season has already seen Sacramento State record several firsts in program history:
- The win against EWU was the first at home against the Eagles in 13 tries.
- The victory at Montana State was the first since joining Big Sky Conference.
- The win over Montana was the first for a ranked Hornet team against an FCS opponent. It was also the first home victory when ranked in the FCS top 25.
- The team has defeated three ranked FCS opponents for the first time in a single season.
CAN'T STOP ALL OF THEM
- Opposing offensive lines are quickly learning that you can try to slow down one member of the Hornet defensive front but it's nearly impossible to stop them all. This past weekend, it was senior Dariyn Choates providing most of the damage. The defensive tackle set career highs with seven total stops, including 4.0 for loss. He also added 2.5 sacks and had a pass breakup.
- That performance raised Choates' season total to 13.0 TFLs which ties him for second in the FCS at 1.9 TFL per game. He is also just a half-TFL shy of cracking the school top 10 single season list. The record is held by Anthony Daisley who had 25 TFLs in 1999.
- When team's have focussed on stopping Choates, then George Obinna has led the Hornet charge. Obinna had 1.5 TFLs against the Griz and now has 10.0 on the year, including 8.0 sacks.
- The Hornets also received 1.5 TFL from cornerback Daron Bland and solo TFLs from linebackers Jeremy Harris and Elias Sernas against Montana.
- Sacramento State's season total of 26 sacks (3.71 per game) ranks fourth nationally and is first in the Big Sky. Eleven different players have been credited with a sack with George Obinna leading the way with 8.0. This year's total already surpassed last year's mark of 13. In 2017, the Hornets had 43 team sacks which ranked second in program history and was the most in the school's Div. FCS era.
- The team is fifth in the FCS with 9.1 TFLs per game. Overall, Sacramento State has 64 TFLs as a team in seven games which is nearly twice the amount of the opponents (34).
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 3.5
T2. Mike Brannon (2005-08) 27.5 ---
T2. George Obinna (2015-pres.) 27.5 ---
Career Tackles-For-Loss Total Needs
5. Zack Nash (2008-11) 40.5 3.5
6. George Obinna (2015-pres.) 37.0 ---
RESETTING 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 during the first half of the season.
Thomson is currently the all-time leader in two career passing categories. His career pass efficiency of 161.1 is well ahead of the second place mark of 146.5 set by Tony Trosin (1998). Thomson has also averaged 9.16 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 sixth in career attempts (580) and completions (348), third in career completion percentage (.600) and second in career yards per game (241.5).
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
2. Ryan Leadingham (2001-04) 8,376 3,064
3. Jason Smith (2007-09) 5,357 45
4. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.) 5,312 ---
Career Passing Touchdowns Total Needs
1. Garrett Safron (2011-14) 86 38
2. Ryan Leadingham (2001-04) 50 2
3. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.) 48 ---
- Junior Elijah Dotson continued to show his versatility, with a team-high eight receptions and 124 receiving yards against Montana. That performance raised Dotson's total to a team-best 47 catches on the year for 561 yards which are both career highs.
- Dotson had a 39-yard reception for a touchdown which raised his season total to four receiving scores on the year. He also has two rushing touchdowns and ranks sixth on the team with six TDs this year.
- Overall, Dotson has 829 all-purpose yards and ranks third in the Big Sky at 118.4 yards per game. His career average of 112.9 ranks him seventh in school history and he needs 42 yards to crack the top 10 in career all-purpose yards.
- 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
6. Troy Mills (1990-91) 2,771 875
7. Rob Harrison (1985-86) 1,924 28
8. Garrett Safron (2011-14) 1,906 10
9. Elijah Dotson (2017-pres.) 1,896 ---
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 ---
- 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.
- 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.
- Bianco was named as one of the 185 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy. 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.
- 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 50-0 win over Northern Colorado was the team's first shutout since a 14-0 contest at UNC in 2011 which was played in heavy rain. The last home shutout was a 30-0 win over SF State in 1994.
- Sacramento State had an interception and fumble return for touchdowns against Eastern Washington. The team had not had two defensive TDs in a game since 2009.
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.