SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Kevin Thomson accounted for 416 yards of total offense and three touchdowns to guide the No. 4-ranked Sacramento State football team to a 27-17 win over UC Davis in the 66th Causeway Classic presented by Pepsi on Saturday night in front of 19,882 fans at Hornet Stadium.
The win capped a historic regular season for the Hornets who clinched a share of the Big Sky Conference title while improving to 9-3 overall and 7-1 in league games. The nine overall wins are the most for the team since it won 10 in the 1988 season while competing at the Div. II level. The seven Big Sky victories were also a program best and the conference title was the first since Sacramento State joined the Big Sky in 1996.
The Hornets placed themselves in an uncomfortable situation, falling behind 17-10 at halftime and trailing 17-13 after three quarter. Sacramento State had previously been 0-3 this season when trailing at both marks. The team, however, bucked the trend when Marshel Martin caught a pass from Thomson and then broke free for a 51-yard score to put the Hornets on top 20-17 with 11:51 left in the game.
"The game didn't go exactly the way we wanted it to go but we made some big plays down the stretch," Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said. "Our defense, after a rough first half, gave us a chance by shutting them out in the second half.
"I'm happiest for our seniors. When you come in and take over a program, sometimes those guys don't buy in. (Our seniors) never blinked, they were awesome so I'm really happy they are champions."
Sacramento State sealed the contest with a 33-yard run from Thomson around the left edge with 3:04 left. The team's final two scoring drives covered 96 and 93 yards, respectively. That carry took him over 100 yards rushing in the game and was his fourth career game over the century mark.
UC Davis had one final drive after the score but a 4th-and-25 play proved unsuccessful and the Hornets were able to run out the clock before celebrating at midfield with the conference and Causeway Classic trophies.
"To be able to play with these guys has been amazing," Thomson said. "Marshel made two incredible plays and shows the grit and toughness he has. If I can get the ball into their hands I know something special is going to happen.
"I wasn't playing great in the first half but was feeling fresher and a bit more confident in the second half. (On the final touchdown) I felt like I could get around the end and got a big block from BJ (Perkinson). Without that block there would be no touchdown."
The Aggies struck first in the game when Jake Maier connected with Khris Vaughn for a 76-yard touchdown pass. Vaughn was open about 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and then outran the Hornet defense down the right sideline for the UCD's longest play from scrimmage this year.
After Devon Medeiros made a 24-yard field goal and Max O'Rourke answered with a 39-yard field goal for Davis, the Aggies pushed the lead to 17-3 with 6:47 left in the first half. With the Hornets backed up near their own goal line, Da'Von Frazier perfectly read a Thomson screen pass and intercepted the ball just outside the goal line and walked in for the score to make it 17-3.
Sacramento State had one final surge in the first half with a 13-play, 75-yard drive which resulted in a 3-yard rush from Thomson. During the series, the Hornets converted 3rd-and-20 with a 24-yard pass to Pierre Williams and later a 4th-and-10 with a 19-yard grab by Isaiah Gable. Thomson appeared to be picked off by Jordan Perryman on 3rd-and-2 from the 3-yard line but he ruled out of bounds to give the Hornets life. Thomson followed on fourth down by rolling to his right and then diving for the pylon for the score.
Medeiros provided the only points of the third quarter with a 24-yard field goal on the opening drive of the half. The Hornets marched 16 plays during the series and took 5:42 off the clock but could not draw closer than the Aggie 6-yard line before settling for the field goal.
Sacramento State used long drives and deep starting field position throughout the game to run a school-record tying 101 plays and total 530 yards. The offense was balanced with 55 pass attempts for 300 yards and 46 rushes for 230. Thomson got off to a slow start passing before finding his rhythm and finishing 28-of-55 for 300 yards with a score and an interception. The game marked the first time in his career that he rushed for 100 yards and threw for 300 yards in a game.
Elijah Dotson had over 100 yards of total offense with 69 rushing and 34 receiving. BJ Perkinson added 45 rushing yards. Marshel Martin caught five passes for 86 yards and Parker Clayton caught a team-high six passes for 60 yards. Martin's touchdown was his seventh of the season which set the record by a Hornet tight end in the Div. I era.
Defensively, Sacramento State limited the Aggies to 296 total yards, including only 133 over the final three quarters. Jake Maier was 20-of-36 for 233 yards with a touchdown in his final collegiate game. Ulonzo Gilliam, Jr., had 61 rushing yards and Khris Vaughn led all players with 135 receiving yards on six receptions.
Marcus Hawkins led the Hornets with 10 total tackles, including a sack. Marcus Bruce added eight tackles and Jeremy Harris had seven.
"I feel blessed," Dariyn Choates said. "I've been through it all. We still have a lot more to do because our goal is higher than a Big Sky championship but I'm happy to see the fruits of our labor."
Sacramento State will now await its playoff fate. The 24-team Football Championship Subdivision field will be announced on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. on ESPNU.The Hornets will be making their first FCS playoff appearance and first postseason berth since the 1988 Div. II playoffs.
February 5, 2020 FOOTBALL ADDS FIVE TO 2020 SIGNING CLASS
January 23, 2020 MING, OBINNA TO PLAY IN HULA BOWL ON SUNDAY NIGHT
January 11, 2020 TAYLOR, THOMSON RECOGNIZED AT STATS PERFORM FCS AWARDS BANQUET
January 8, 2020 FOOTBALL RELEASES 2020 SCHEDULE
December 19, 2019 THOMSON, OBINNA NAMED TO STATS FCS ALL-AMERICA TEAM
December 19, 2019 OBINNA ADDS AFCA ALL-AMERICA TO HIS POSTSEASON HAUL
December 18, 2019 FOOTBALL SIGNS 16 ON FIRST DAY OF EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
December 17, 2019 MARTIN, THOMSON AND OBINNA ADD TO FOOTBALL'S ALL-AMERICA AWARD WINNERS
December 16, 2019 THOMSON, DOTSON NAMED TO HERO SPORTS FCS ALL-AMERICA TEAMS
December 12, 2019 TROY TAYLOR WINS STATS EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD
December 9, 2019 THOMSON NAMED TOP FOUR FINALIST FOR THE WALTER PAYTON AWARD
December 6, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR FOOTBALL VS. AUSTIN PEAY IN THE FCS PLAYOFFS
November 27, 2019 TROY TAYLOR NAMED BIG SKY FOOTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR
November 26, 2019 FOOTBALL PLACES 15 ON ALL-BIG SKY TEAMS; THOMSON NAMED OFFENSIVE MVP
November 22, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR NO. 4 FOOTBALL IN THE 66TH CAUSEWAY CLASSIC
November 19, 2019 NO. 4 FOOTBALL READIES FOR 66TH CAUSEWAY CLASSIC
November 18, 2019 FCS PLAYOFF TICKET INFORMATION
November 18, 2019 FOOTBALL HITS NEW HIGH, RANKED FOURTH IN BOTH FCS POLLS
November 16, 2019 NO. 6 FOOTBALL CONTINUES HISTORIC SEASON WITH 31-7 WIN AT IDAHO
November 15, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR NO. 6 FOOTBALL AT IDAHO
November 12, 2019 NO. 6 FOOTBALL PLAYS FINAL REGULAR SEASON ROAD GAME AT IDAHO ON SATURDAY
November 11, 2019 MEDEIROS NAMED BIG SKY SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
November 11, 2019 FOOTBALL RETURNS TO SIXTH IN BOTH THE FCS COACHES AND MEDIA POLLS
November 7, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR NO. 8 FOOTBALL AT NORTHERN ARIZONA
November 6, 2019 KEVIN THOMSON NAMED TO WALTER PAYTON AWARD WATCH LIST
November 6, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: Nov. 1-6
November 5, 2019 No. 8 FOOTBALL PLAYS AT NORTHERN ARIZONA ON SATURDAY
November 4, 2019 FOOTBALL RANKED EIGHTH IN THIS WEEK'S FCS MEDIA AND COACHES POLLS
November 2, 2019 No. 6 FOOTBALL FALLS AT HOME TO No. 3 WEBER STATE, 36-17
November 1, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR NO. 6 FOOTBALL VS. NO. 3 WEBER STATE
October 31, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: Oct. 24-31
October 29, 2019 TOP 10 SHOWDOWN COMES TO HORNET STADIUM ON SATURDAY NIGHT
October 28, 2019 DOTSON NAMED BIG SKY OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
October 25, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR FOOTBALL AT CAL POLY
October 24, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: Oct. 17-23
October 21, 2019 THOMSON, MEDEIROS NAMED PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
October 19, 2019 FOOTBALL THRILLS HOMECOMING CROWD WITH 49-22 WIN OVER NO. 5 MONTANA
October 18, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR FOOTBALL VS. MONTANA
October 17, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: Oct. 9-16
October 16, 2019 FOOTBALL PREPARES FOR TOP 20 SHOWDOWN ON HOMECOMING
October 14, 2019 FOOTBALL CRACKS FCS TOP 25 IN MEDIA AND COACHES POLLS
October 14, 2019 KEVIN THOMSON NAMED BIG SKY OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
October 12, 2019 FOOTBALL NEVER TRAILS IN 34-21 WIN OVER NO. 6 MONTANA STATE
October 11, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR FOOTBALL AT MONTANA STATE
October 9, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: Oct. 2-8
October 8, 2019 FOOTBALL ROLLS INTO #6 MONTANA STATE FOR SATURDAY SHOWDOWN
October 4, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR FOOTBALL VS. EASTERN WASHINGTON
October 2, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: SEPT. 25-OCT. 1
September 25, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: SEPT. 19-24
September 21, 2019 FOOTBALL TAKES FRESNO STATE TO THE LIMIT IN FINAL NON-CONFERENCE GAME
September 20, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR FOOTBALL AT FRESNO STATE
September 20, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: SEPT. 12-18
September 17, 2019 FOOTBALL HEADS SOUTH TO TAKE ON FRESNO STATE ON SATURDAY
September 16, 2019 DARIYN CHOATES NAMED ROOT SPORTS BIG SKY DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
September 14, 2019 FOOTBALL BLANKS NORTHERN COLORADO, 50-0
September 13, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: SEPT. 4-11
September 13, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR FOOTBALL VS. NORTHERN COLORADO
September 10, 2019 FOOTBALL RETURNS HOME TO FACE NORTHERN COLORADO ON SATURDAY
September 7, 2019 FOOTBALL BATTLES ARIZONA STATE IN 19-7 LOSS
September 5, 2019 FIVE FACTS FOR FOOTBALL AT ARIZONA STATE
September 4, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: AUG. 26-SEPT. 3
September 3, 2019 FOOTBALL TRAVELS TO ARIZONA STATE FOR FRIDAY NIGHT GAME
August 31, 2019 RECORDS FALL IN FOOTBALL'S SEASON OPENING 77-19 VICTORY
August 28, 2019 FIVE FACTS TO KNOW FOR FOOTBALL SEASON OPENER
August 27, 2019 FOOTBALL KICKS OFF SEASON ON SATURDAY NIGHT AT HORNET STADIUM
August 26, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: AUG. 21-25
August 21, 2019 POSITION PREVIEW: QUARTERBACKS
August 20, 2019 POSITION PREVIEW: SPECIALISTS
August 20, 2019 HORNETS IN THE PROS: AUG. 13-20
August 19, 2019 POSITION PREVIEW: RUNNING BACKS
August 17, 2019 DEFENSE STARTS STRONG, OFFENSE IGNITES IN SECOND SCRIMMAGE
August 16, 2019 SECOND SCRIMMAGE SET FOR SATURDAY PLUS TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK
August 14, 2019 POSITION PREVIEW: DEFENSIVE BACKS
August 13, 2019 POSITION PREVIEW: WIDE RECEIVERS
August 12, 2019 POSITION PREVIEW: LINEBACKERS
August 10, 2019 OFFENSE AND DEFENSE BOTH HAVE BIG PLAYS IN OPENING SCRIMMAGE
August 8, 2019 POSITION PREVIEW: OFFENSIVE LINE/TIGHT ENDS
August 7, 2019 POSITION PREVIEW: DEFENSIVE LINE
July 30, 2019 FOOTBALL OPENS PRESEASON CAMP ON FRIDAY, AUG. 2
July 15, 2019 ELIJAH DOTSON NAMED PRESEASON ALL-BIG SKY
July 15, 2019 PRESEASON FOOTBALL POLLS REVEALED AT BIG SKY KICKOFF