SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Elijah Dotson rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns and Kevin Thomson added 104 rushing yards as No. 7 Sacramento State turned the tables on Cal Poly in a 38-14 victory at Spanos Stadium on Saturday night.
The victory improved Sacramento State to 6-2 overall and kept the team unbeaten in Big Sky Conference play at 4-0. The four consecutive wins marked the first time a Hornet team has achieved that feat in the same season since 1991. Cal Poly dropped to 2-6 overall and 1-4 in league games.
Dotson went over 100-yards for the second time this season and the eighth time in his career. He had a season-high 19 attempts and averaged 9.3 yards per attempt. The junior put Sacramento State on top early in the second quarter with a 19-yard touchdown run. He added a 1-yard scoring rush early in the third quarter and then had an electrifying 30-yard touchdown where he bounced off several would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone.
"(Cal Poly) was in a particular defense that was a little more susceptible to the run game," Sacramento Stat head coach Troy Taylor said. "They did a good job defending the pass in the first half and luckily we were able to get things going."
Overall, Sacramento State rushed for 348 yards and scored five touchdowns on the ground. Thomson had 104 yards and was not stopped behind the line during the evening. Dotson and Thomson became the 14th Hornet duo to each have 100 rushing yards in a game and the first since 2014. BJ Perkinson ranked third on the team with 57 rushing yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
"Honestly, you have to give all the credit to the offensive line because they were making the holes," Dotson said. "Without them, we wouldn't be able to get off the line of the scrimmage. We knew that Cal Poly was a good team and was going to come out hungry. We had to be hungry team because we didn't want to go home with a loss."
The defense also rose to the challenge, limiting a Mustang offense which ranked ninth nationally in the FCS and led the Big Sky with 252.9 yards per game, to just 116 rushing yards without a touchdown. Sacramento State finished with 12 tackles-for-loss, including six sacks. George Obinna and Josiah Erickson each had 2.5 TFLs to tie for the team high while Marcus Hawkins had a team-high nine tackles.
"The key was for everybody to keep their eyes on their man," nickelback Marcus Bruce said. "The communication was a big and have everybody have disciplined eyes the whole game. We knew that if we did that, we'd come out victorious."
Sacramento State took the opening kickoff and drove the length of the field but had the drive end when Thomson's pass was tipped and intercepted in the end zone. The quick change didn't effect the defense which forced a punt on the first five Mustang series.
The Hornets finally broke the scoreless deadlock when Dotson capped a 4-play, 52-yard drive on the team's first series of the second quarter. Sacramento State added on on the next series with a 2-yard rush from Perkinson. Pierre Williams caught a 14-yard pass and Dotson had a 29-yard run to take the ball into the red zone. Devon Medeiros closed out the first half scoring with a 32-yard field goal with 16 seconds remaining.
Sacramento State started the second half by forcing the Mustangs to punt and the offense then used seven plays to go 80 yards for a touchdown to go ahead, 24-0.
After Cal Poly made a quarterback change, Jake Jeffrey came on and found J.J. Koski for a 43-yard touchdown pass. The completion by the former Folsom HS standout was the first by Cal Poly in the game.
Perkinson and Dotson then went back to work early in the fourth quarter with TD rushers of 5 yards and 30 yards. The final points came from Cal Poly when Jeffrey hit Quinton Harrison for a 25-yard touchdown with 2:28 remaining.
The win by Sacramento State sets up a dynamic home game against Weber State on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Hornet Stadium. WSU also improved to 4-0 in conference play with a 36-20 win at UC Davis. With losses by No. 3 South Dakota State and No. 5 Villanova, the game could pit two top five teams against one another.
Sacramento State did not allow a sack for the third time in four Big Sky games…Thomson did not account for a touchdown for the first time this season and had his streak of at least five TDs rushing and passing snapped at three consecutive games…Dotson scored a rushing touchdown for the first time since in the season opener. He now has 19 career rushing touchdowns to take sole possession of seventh place in program history…Obinna is now just a half-sack shy of tying the career sack record…Sacramento State had 32 first downs to set a season high and tie for the third-most in program Div. I-AA/FCS history…the team went over 500 yards of total offense (519) for the fourth time this season…the Hornets were flagged three times for 35 yards and now have three or fewer penalties in three straight games.