FARMINGTON, Utah — A school-record 15 Sacramento State football players were named to the all-Big Sky Conference teams, it was announced today. Among the list are a Big Sky-leading seven first team selections, including quarterback Kevin Thomson who was named the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year.
The Hornets finished the 2019 regular season with a 9-3 overall record and a 7-1 mark in the Big Sky which allowed the team to win a share of the regular season title for the first time in school history. The nine overall victories were also a high for a regular season and the most since the 1988 team finished the year with a 10-3 record after falling in the semifinals of the NCAA Div. II playoffs. Sacramento State also earned its first NCAA FCS playoff berth and will host the winner of Austin Peay and Furman on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. in Hornet Stadium.
The seven first team selections were comprised of four offensive and three defensive players. Thomson was the lone quarterback named to the first team and became the first Hornet QB to earn the honor. He also joins former All-America running back Charles Roberts (1999 & 2000) as the only Sacramento State players to be named the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year. This season, Thomson had 3,442 yards of total offense in 11 games for an average of 312.9 yards which ranked seventh in the FCS. He accounted for 35 total touchdowns with 25 passing and 10 rushing and his 19.3 points responsible for per game ranked second in the league. He threw for over 300 yards in five games and rushed for 100 yards in a pair of contests. He wrapped up the regular season by doing both against UC Davis with a 300 passing yards and 116 rushing yards to mark just the second time a player has had 300/100 in school history. The junior had five games where he accounted for at least five touchdowns rushing and passing and his 10 rushing scores tied the record by a Hornet quarterback in a season.
Elijah Dotson returned to the first team for the second consecutive seasons. One of the top running backs in the league, Dotson led the team with 738 rushing yards and also had a team high 69 receptions for 700 yards to give him 1,439 all-purpose yards. The junior led the Hornets with 11 total touchdowns during the season with seven rushing and five receiving scores. He averaged 4.9 rushing yards per attempt and had three games with 100 rushing yards. The Sacramento native broke out this year as a receiver in the team's new offense. He became the first Sacramento State running back to have 100 receiving yards in a game as he had 158 against Northern Colorado. Dotson caught at least two passes in all 12 games and had four or more receptions in 11 of the team's 12 regular season contests.
Wide receiver Pierre Williams earned his first all-Big Sky honor. Williams had a team-high 931 receiving yards on 54 catches. He tied for the team lead with seven receiving touchdowns and joined former All-American Fred Amey as the only players in school history to have at least 500 receiving yards as a freshman and sophomore. Williams was the model of consistency throughout the season, catching a pass in every game and having five or more receptions in six contests. The Gustine, Calif., native had four games with at least 100 receiving yards, including an eight catch, 153-yard performance in the win over Montana.
Helping pave the way for the offense was a talented line which protected the team's quarterbacks and opened holes for the running backs. Wyatt Ming anchored that line from his center position and was recognized as a first team all-Big Sky selection. Ming was previously named honorable mention in 2017 before redshirting last season. In 2019, Ming started every game at center to lead an offense which averaged 469.0 yards per game. The offensive line surrendered just 15 sacks during the 12 games and did not allow a sack in six of those games.
Dariyn Choates and George Obinna both returned to the all-Big Sky teams on defense. Choates was named to the first team at defensive tackle after earning honorable mention in 2017. He had a career high 47 total tackles which ranked second among defensive lineman on the team and were the most among defensive tackles. The senior led the Big Sky with 17.0 tackles-for-loss (1.5 per game) which ranks fourth in school single-season history. He was also second on the team and fourth in the Big Sky with 7.0 sacks. The Seaside, Calif., native had a TFL in 10 of the 11 games in which he played. Prior to this season, Choates had 12.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks in his first three seasons.
Obinna was named first team all-Big Sky at defensive end for the second time in his career. He set the Sacramento State single-season and career record for sacks during the season after missing most of the 2018 season due to injury. Obinna had 13.5 sacks this year (1.13 per game) which is tied for the most in the Big Sky and third in the FCS. He finished the year with 40 total tackles, including 16.5 TFLs. The senior also had seven quarterback hurries and recovered a pair of fumbles. He recorded multiple sacks in five games with a season high of 2.5 at Fresno State.
Cornerback Daron Bland rounds out the first team selections as he was named one of the four defensive backs. Bland started all 12 games at cornerback and recorded 39 total tackles with two for loss. He was tied for the team lead with two interceptions and his eight PBUs were twice as much as the next best mark on the team. The junior also forced and recovered a fumble during the season.
Nick Bianco and Marshel Martin were named to the offensive second team. Bianco started all 12 games at left guard and was part of an offensive line which ranked 10th in the FCS in fewest sacks allowed per pass attempt.
Martin set the Sacramento State single-season record for touchdowns by a tight end with seven and found the end zone on 19.4 percent of his receptions. He finished the season with 36 catches for 514 yards and had at least one reception in every game. The redshirt freshman had five catches against both Arizona State and UC Davis for his season high. His touchdown against the Aggies gave the Hornets the lead for good.
The linebacking duo of Marcus Bruce and Marcus Hawkins as well as safety Caelan Barnes were voted to the all-Big Sky second team on defense. Bruce, who filled the role of nickelback for the team, ranked second among Sacramento State players with 64 total stops. That total included three forced fumbles, 7.0 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries, a PBU and a fumble recovery. He had at least five tackles in eight of the 12 games and tied for third on the team in sacks and was fifth in TFLs despite playing in the secondary.
Hawkins led the team with 72 tackles in his first season with the Hornets. The middle linebacker recorded 10 tackles in three different games and was credited with 8.0 TFLs, including 3.5 sacks which was tied for third on the team. Hawkins intercepted a pass in his first game at Sacramento State and also forced a fumble during the season. He also ranked second on the team with five quarterback hurries.
Barnes started all 12 games at safety and ranked fourth on the team with 54 tackles. He also had two pass breakups and recovered a fumble. The senior had a tackle in every game and had seven or more stops in four games.
Elijah Chambers was selected to the third team as a defensive tackle. Chambers had 27 total tackles with 4.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks. He was also credited with a forced fumble, a QB hurry and a pass breakup during the season. The junior started all 12 games at defensive tackle and set a career high with seven tackles at Cal Poly and had six stops against Weber State.
Sacramento State also had two players named honorable mention in defensive end Josiah Erickson and running back BJ Perkinson. Erickson returned to the field after missing most of the last two seasons due to injury. He led all defensive linemen on the team with 51 total tackles. The junior finished the regular season with 11 TFLs, two sacks and two QB hurries. He also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble during the year.
Perkinson ranked third on the team with 431 rushing yards and added 246 receiving yards for 677 all-purpose yards. He had a season high 104 rushing yards against Cal Poly. The junior ranked third on the team with six rushing touchdowns and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. He also caught 33 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns.