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NO. 4 FOOTBALL READIES FOR 66TH CAUSEWAY CLASSIC

NO. 4 FOOTBALL READIES FOR 66TH CAUSEWAY CLASSIC

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A BRIEF PREVIEW

  • With history already made, the Sacramento State football team will have the opportunity to win its first Big Sky Conference title on Saturday when it hosts the 66th annual Causeway Classic which is presented by Pepsi. The game against UC Davis will get underway at 2:05 p.m. from Hornet Stadium.
  • Prior to the start of the contest, Sacramento State will honor its 16 seniors who will be playing their final regular season game at Hornet Stadium.
  • The Hornets enter the week ranked fourth in both the STATS FCS media poll and the AFCA FCS coaches poll. Sacramento State improved to 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the Big Sky Conference with a convincing 31-7 win at Idaho last Saturday. The Hornets set their Div. I era record for wins in season and also tied the high mark for Big Sky wins in the game. The previous high for overall wins in the Div. I era came in 2017 where Sacramento State was 7-5 and 6-2 in league games. The last time the Hornets won eight games in a season came at the Div. II level where the team was 8-2 in 1991.
  • 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 shown on CW31 in the Sacramento area and streamed on Pluto.TV with Dave Lewis and former Hornet quarterback and Arena League legend Aaron Garcia providing the commentary. Pluto.TV is a free service available on computers, smart TVs, mobile devices and video game consoles.

OPPONENT PREVIEW: UC DAVIS

  • UC Davis dropped to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in league games with a 27-17 home loss to Montana State. The Aggies surrendered 501 yards of total offense and were just 2-of-14 on third down and 0-for-3 on fourth down.
  • The Aggie offense has been led all season by quarterback Jake Maier and running back Ulonzo Gilliam, Jr. Maier became the all-time leading passer in UCD history with 10,930  career passing yards. This season, Maier has thrown for 3,330 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Gilliam has 1,188 rushing yards and 11 scores.
  • Eric Flowers (73) and Connor Airey (70) are the top two tacklers for the team. Devon King is the anchor in the secondary with three of the team's eight INTs and Nick Eaton has a team-best 12.0 TFLs, including 6.5 sacks.
  • Dan Hawkins is in his third season at his alma mater. Hawkins has a career record of 131-76-1 in 18 years as a collegiate head  coach.

SENIOR SEND OFF

PUTTING THE CLAMPS DOWN

  • Sacramento State put together one of its finest defensive efforts of the season in the win at Idaho. The Hornets limited the Vandals to just 194 yards of total offense, including 16 yards in the first half.
  • The performance marked the second time this year that Sacramento State has held a team under 200 total yards. Prior to this season, the Hornets had not held a team under 200 yards since 2015.
  • Idaho was also limited to just eight first downs in the game. That was the lowest mark by a Sacramento State opponent since Northern Colorado posted five in a rain-soaked game in 2011.
  • In the first half, Idaho ran 25 total plays for 16 yards and were shut out. The Vandals finished the first two quarters with minus-17 rushing yards on 13 carries and had one first down. This season, Sacramento State has now shut out Northern Colorado, Cal Poly and Idaho in the first half.
  • Sacramento State currently leads the Big Sky Conference in both scoring defense and total defense. The Hornets are surrendering 349.5 yards per game which would be the lowest single-season average since 2010 (334.0). Opponents are scoring 21.2 points per game which is just under the FCS-era school record of 21.4 which was set in 1994.
  • The team has been able to make its mark inside the red zone. Sacramento State is fourth nationally and leads the Big Sky in red zone defense. This year, opponents have made 32 trips inside the 20-yard line and have come out with 16 touchdowns and five field goals.

FROM ZERO TO THE UNKNOWN

  • Sacramento State wrapped up last season 0-7 in the Big Sky Conference and finished 2-8 overall. The Hornets had their final home game canceled due to poor air quality from Camp Fire and then played the Causeway Classic at Mackay Stadium in Reno the following week. The conference record marked the first time Sacramento State was held without a league victory since going 0-8 in 1996 — its first season in the Big Sky.
  • Since the Big Sky began playing at least a six-game schedule in 1984, there have been 19 teams that have gone winless in conference play. This year's Sacramento State team is the first of those 19 to win at least six conference game a year after getting blanked. In fact, Idaho is the only other school to win five games the next year. The Vandals were 0-7 in 1981 and 5-2 in 1982.
  • The greatest one-year improvement in the FCS and the Big Sky comes from Montana State which went 1-10 overall and 1-6 in league games in 1983 before going 12-2 and 6-1 the following year to win the Div. I-AA championship.
  • Sacramento State also currently owns the biggest improvement from last season to this year in the FCS. The team's six-game turnaround places it one victory ahead of Tennessee Tech and UT-Martin.

ROAD WARRIORS

  • Sacramento State capped a perfect Big Sky road record for the first time in school history with its win at Idaho. The team was 4-0 in league play and 4-2 overall with a pair of close losses at Arizona State and Fresno State.
  • Prior to this season, the Hornets were 26-66 in Big Sky road games and had just one season (2013, 3-1) with a with a winning record.
  • Among that record were eight seasons in which the team failed to win a conference road game. From the final road game of 2002 through the first of 2006, the team lost 14 consecutive Big Sky road games.

RANKINGS REHASH

  • Sacramento State moved up two spots to fourth in both the STATS FCS media poll and AFCA FCS coaches poll.  The Hornets are now ranked for six straight weeks for the first time since moving to Div. I in 1993. The No. 4 ranking is the highest mark in school history.
  • Sacramento State has already knocked off three ranked opponents in No. 22 Eastern Washington, No. 6 Montana State and No. 5 Montana. The game against No. 3 Weber State marked the first time since 2010 the team has played at least four games against top 25 teams and the first against three top 10 teams since 1996.
  • Prior to this year, the Hornets had not beaten a top 25 team since a 39-25 win against No. 11 Cal Poly in 2012. The previous highest ranked team before this season was a 24-21 win at No. 8 Northern Arizona in 2002.
  • The NCAA FCS selection committee tabbed the Hornets fifth in their initial rankings based on postseason selection criteria. Defending national champion North Dakota State was seeded first and was followed by James Madison, Weber State and South Dakota State.

SEASON OF FIRSTS

  • 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.
  • Sacramento State won its first four Big Sky games for the first time in program history.
  • The win at Idaho was the first in program history.

A NEW ALL-TIME SACK LEADER

  • George Obinna continued his takeover of the Sacramento State record book with a sack at Idaho which gave him the school single-season record with 13.5. Obinna's sack moved him past Zack Nash who held the mark with 13.0 in 2010.
  • Two weeks ago, Obinna passed Nash with a pair of sacks against Weber State to claim the career total. He has since added a sack at Northern Arizona and Idaho to give him 33.0 in his career.
  • The senior ranks second in the FCS and leads the Big Sky with 1.23 sacks per game this season. He only trails Houston Baptist's Andre Walker who has 15.0 sacks and averages 1.36 per game.
  • Obinna is also in fourth place on the school career tackles-for-loss list as he raised his total to 43.5. He has a team high 16.5 TFLs this season and his average of 1.5 per game ranks second in the Big Sky and is tied for 15th nationally.
  • Not to be outdone, Dariyn Choates leads the conference and 10th in the FCS with 1.6 TFLs per game. Choates has 16.0 total TFLs this season which leaves him just behind Obinna for the team lead.
  • Sacramento State's season total of 41 sacks (3.73 per game) ranks third nationally and is first in the Big Sky. Thirteen players have been credited with a sack with Obinna leading the way. This year's total easily surpasses 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 eighth in the FCS with 8.5 TFLs per game. Overall, Sacramento State has 94 TFLs as a team in 11 games which is twice the amount of the opponents (47).
  • 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.
  • Choates was named honorable mention all-Big Sky in 2017 after setting career highs with 9.5 TFLs and 5.0 sacks.

    Career Sacks    Total    Needs
    1. George Obinna (2015-pres.)    33.0    ---
    2. Zack Nash (2008-11)    29.5    ---

    Career Tackles-For-Loss    Total    Needs
    1. Mike Brannon (2005-08)    52.5    9.5
    2. Matt Logue (2002-05)    45.5    2.0
    3. Anthony Daisley (1999-2000)    44.0    0.5
    4. George Obinna (2015-pres.)    43.5    ---     

    Single-Season Sacks    Total    Needs
    1. George Obinna (2019)    13.5    ---
    2. Zack Nash (2010)    13.0    ---

    Single-Season TFLs    Total    Needs
    1. Anthony Daisley (1999)    25.0    8.5/9.0
    2. Anthony Daisley (2000)    19.0    2.5/3.0
    3. Mike Brannon (2007)    18.0    1.5/2.0
    T4. George Obinna (2019)    16.5    ---/0.5
    T4. Zack Nash (2010)    16.5    ---/0.5
    T6. Dariyn Choates (2019)    16.0    ---/---
    T6. Ryland Wickman (1997)    16.0    ---/---

WILLIAMS NEARS CAREER TOP 10

  • Pierre Williams ranked second on the team with three receptions for 38 yards in the win at Idaho. He has now caught a pass in 21 games of his career with two or more receptions in 20 of those games.
  • Williams began garnering attention with his performance on the scout team while redshirting in 2017. That year, he would routinely make highlight reel catches while matching up against starters who were four to five years his elder. Last season, he played a complimentary role to Andre Lindsey and Jaelin Ratliff but finished the year with 31 receptions for 553 yards and five TDs.
  • This year, he leads the team with 907 receiving yards  and seven receiving touchdowns and is second with 53 receptions. Williams joined former All-American Fred Amey as the only players in school history to have at least 500 yards during their freshman and sophomore seasons.
  • The Patterson, Calif., native has also moved onto the Sacramento State top 20 list for career receiving yards and is close to the joining in the list in career receptions and career touchdowns.

    Career Receiving Yards    Total    Needs
    10. Scott Towne (1997-2000)    1,646    186
    11. Isiah Hennie (2014-17)    1,523    63
    12. Kevin Fontes (1981-82)    1,468    8
    13. Pierre Williams (2018-pres.)    1,460    ---

    Single-Season Receiving Yards    Total    Needs
    6. Mike Carter (1969)    1,106    199
    T7. Fred Amey (2003)    989    82
    T7. Fred Amey (2002)    989    82
    9. Clint Primm (1992)    951    44
    10. DeAndre Carter (2013)    934    17
    --- Pierre Williams (2019)    907    ---

DUAL-THREAT DOTSON

  • Elijah Dotson played a big role in the team amassing 222 rushing yards with a 16-carry, 109-yard effort at Idaho. The game was the 10th 100-yard performance of his career which moved him into a tie for sixth in school history.
    Overall, Dotson has 1,336 all-purpose yards, ranks 23rd in the FCS and second in the Big Sky at 121.5 yards per game. His career average of 114.6 ranks sixth in school history.
  • 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    473
    8. Elijah Dotson (2017-pres.)    2,298    ---

    Career Rushing Touchdowns    Total    Needs
    T5. Jordan Robinson (2013-16)    25    4
    T5. Troy Mills (1990-91)    25    4
    7. Elijah Dotson (2017-pres.)    21    ---

    Career All-Purpose Yards    Total    Needs
    5. Troy Mills (1990-91)    4,070    403
    6. Lamont Webb (1997-2000)    3,716    49
    7. Jordan Robinson (2013-16)    3,700    33
    8. Elijah Dotson (2017-pres.)    3,667    ---

    Career Touchdowns    Total    Needs
    6. Jordan Robinson (2013-16)    30    3
    T7. Fred Amey (2001-04)    29    2
    T7. Troy Mills (1990-91)    29    2
    9. Elijah Dotson (2017-pres.)    27    ---

RESETTING THE CLOCK

  • Kevin Thomson is currently the all-time Hornet leader in two career passing categories. His career pass efficiency of 154.1 is well ahead of the second place mark of 146.5 set by Tony Trosin (1998). Thomson has also averaged 8.79 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 fourth in career completions (392), sixth in career attempts (662), third in career completion percentage (.592) and second in career yards per game (232.7).
    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    2,558
    3. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    5,818    ---

    Career Passing Touchdowns    Total    Needs
    1. Garrett Safron (2011-14)    86    37
    2. Ryan Leadingham (2001-04)    50    1
    3. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    49    ---

    Career Total Offense    Total    Needs
    1. Garrett Safron (2011-14)    11,619    4,757
    2. Ryan Leadingham (2001-04)    8,455    1,593
    3. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    6,862    ---

    Career TDs Responsible For    Total    Needs
    1. Garrett Safron (2011-14)    102    37
    2. Kevin Thomson (2017-pres.)    66    ---

    Single Season Passing TDs    Total    Needs
    1. Garrett Safron (2014)    34    10
    2. Garrett Safron (2013)    27    3
    3. Kevin Thomson (2019)    24    ---

    Single Season Passing Yards    Total    Needs
    2. Garrett Safron (2013)    3,289    679
    3. Ryan Leadingham (2002)    2,785    175
    4. Ryan Leadingham (2001)    2,752    142
    5. Kevin Thomson (2019)    2,610    ---

    Single Season Completions    Total    Needs
    3. Garrett Safron (2012)    246    30
    4. Ryan Leadingham (2002)    220    4
    5. Kevin Thomson (2019)    216    ---

    Single Season TDs Responsible For    Total    Needs
    1. Garrett Safron (2014    38    6
    2. Garrett Safron (2013)    34    2
    T3. Kevin Thomson (2019)    32    ---

MARTIN TIES TIGHT END RECORD

  • Redshirt freshman Marshel Martin helped the Hornets get off to a quick start with two first quarter touchdowns against NAU. Martin caught a 63-yard score on the team's first offensive possession of the game. He added a 14-yard touchdown reception on the second drive.
  • Martin finished the game with four catches for a career high 92 yards. He now ranks third on the team with 31 receptions for 428 yards and six touchdowns.
  • Throwing to the tight end is a relative new thing for the Hornets. The most touchdowns scored by tight ends during the last 15 seasons belonged to TJ Knowles and Cole Hikutini who each had five scores in 2012 and 2013, respectively. McRueben Fleurinord is the only player to have multiple scores 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 held 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. Martin tied Kelly's single-season record with his second TD catch at NAU.

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.
  • 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 played 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 came 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 2019, are comprised of Devon Medeiros, Wyatt Ming, George Obinna and 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 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.
  • Sacramento State's six Big Sky Athletes of the Week this season ties the program record from 1998 and 1999.
  • Devon Medeiros set the Sacramento State career record for PATs during the 2019 season. Medeiros currently has 127 extra points which betters Scott Brown's record of 107.
  • 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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