SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The magical season for the Sacramento State football team came to a close with a 42-28 defeat against Austin Peay in the second round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs on Saturday at Hornet Stadium.
The Hornets ended the year with a 9-4 overall record. Austin Peay moved to 11-3 and will advance to play at Montana State in the quarterfinals next Friday in Bozeman, Mont.
Austin Peay quarterback JaVaughn Craig led the Govs in both passing and rushing yards and accounted for 368 yards of total offense. APSU jumped out to a quick start, scoring 21 points in the first quarter. DeAngelo Wilson hauled in a 15-yard pass for the first score and Baniko Harley added the next two. The first on a 3-yard reception and the latter with a 45-yard rush on 4th-and-2. After taking a 14-0 lead, Austin Peay used an onside kick to set up their third touchdown and keep the Hornets off the field. The Governors ended up holding the ball for 11:34 of the first 15 minutes of the period and ran 22 plays compared to five from Sacramento State.
"We knew coming in that they were a talented team that was well coached," Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said. "They played better than us in all three phases. We dug ourself a pretty big hole with some not smart stuff and they are a good team and took advantage of that. I never felt like the game was over and liked that we battled back. I'm disappointed that we didn't play our best."
That score held until halftime as Sacramento State was shut out in the first half for just the second time this year. Sacramento State's best chance to score came midway through the second quarter. Marcus Bruce sparked the drive with his second interception of the season and the team was able to drive inside the red zone before being stopped on fourth down at the APSU 13-yard line.
The Hornets took the opening kickoff and, once again, moved into the red zone but missed a 24-yard field goal. The Governors immediately answered with a 6-play, 80-yard drive which was capped by a 1-yard rush from Kentell Williams.
The teams then alternated touchdowns over the next five scores. Kevin Thomson put Sacramento State on the board with a 1-yard rush with 7:26 left in the half. Craig matched the score with a 18-yard run in which he worked his way free from several sack attempts and then rushed up the middle. Thomson capped the third quarter scoring with his second rushing touchdown of the game. Following a pass interference call against the defense, the Hornets had the ball placed at the 2-yard line and Thomson slithered up the middle to the end zone. The score was his 12th rushing touchdown of the year which set the school record by a quarterback.
Austin Peay started the fourth quarter with a 10-play, 51-yard drive which ended with a 2-yard rush from Harley for his third touchdown of the game. Less than three minutes later, Thomson connected with Isaiah Bailey for a 20-yard touchdown pass at the right front corner of the end zone. The score was the second of the season for Bailey and the 26th passing score for Thomson. Bailey added a second touchdown on a 5-yard pass to complete the scoring with 3:59 remaining.
Like Craig, Thomson finished as Sacramento State's leading rusher and passer. The junior had 306 passing yards to put him over 300 yards for the second consecutive game. He also rushed for 87 yards while averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Parker Clayton and Isaiah Gable each had four receptions to lead the team. Clayton had the 73 yards while Bailey finished with 59 yards on three grabs.
The Hornets finished with 405 yards of total offense while Austin Peay had 499. The Govs limited Sacramento State to just 99 rushing yards on only 19 attempts. APSU compiled 293 yards on the ground and added 206 passing. Craig completed 18-of-28 passes for 204 yards and had two touchdowns with an interception. He also rushed 12 times for 164 yards and a score. DeAngelo Wilson led all players in the game with eight catches for 132 receiving yards.
Marcus Bruce ended his Hornet career with 10 total tackles, including a TFL and added a interception. Bruce finished his career with 210 tackles which ties him for 15th in Sacramento State history. Allen Perryman, Marcus Hawkins, Jeremy Harris and Caelan Barnes each had nine tackles in the game.
NOTES: Sacramento State played the game without starting wide receiver Pierre Williams and left guard Nick Bianco…the game marked the first time this season that the team did not use the same starting five on the offensive line…the Hornets scored 464 points during the season to set the Sacramento State single-season record…the previous mark of 458 was set in 2017…the Hornets also set the school record for single-season pass attempts (524) and passing yards (3,832)…Marcus Hawkins had a sack in the game to give the team 43 on the year which tied the program's Div. I-era record.