Big Plays Costly In Loss At Sacramento State
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Three scoring plays of over 50 yards for the Sacramento State football team cost Northern Colorado as the Bears fell to the Hornets 45-25. NC moves to 1-9 on the year and 1-6 in Big Sky Conference play, while SAC improves to 6-5 overall and 3-4 in league action.
The Bears tallied 436 yards of total offense, compared with 455 for Sacramento State, which tallied 32:01 in time of possession and punted just twice on the afternoon.
Junior quarterback Bryan Waggener threw for over 300 yards for the second straight game and the third time this season, passing for 317 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for two touchdowns on the day, getting 12 yards on 10 rushes. Waggener's favorite target of the afternoon was junior wide receiver Alex Thompson, who caught seven passes for 145 yards and one touchdown. Senior Jason Caprioli also had six receptions for 67 yards. Senior running back David Woods gained a team-best 97 yards rushing on 18 carries and senior defensive back Eric Brown tallied 93 yards on kickoff returns.
"The two big plays were technique errors by us," said Head Coach Scott Downing. "We knew they were going to go deep, we knew they had the capability to go deep we worked on it all week in practice. It's the same thing we've talked about all year, we've got to step up and make plays. I thought we bounced back and played very, very hard the remainder of the game."
Brown now has 796 kickoff return yards for his career, moving into sixth on the school's career list passing Cliff Harris' 745 yards (1973-76). Waggener has also now thrown for 2,292 yards and is 11 yards shy of tying for 10th on the school's single season list (2,303, Tom Beck, 1996).
"I thought our offensive line played very, very well," said Downing. "I thought they handled them (Sacramento State) up front, I thought we exerted our strength on them and I thought our running backs ran very hard."
Defensively, senior linebacker Cristian Sarmento had a game-high 13 tackles. He also forced and recovered a fumble, one of two forced fumbles on the day for the Bears. Sarmento now has five forced fumbles this season and seven in his career. Sophomore safety Max Hewitt and senior linebacker Joe Kenney each chipped in seven tackles.
The Hornets were led offensively by Bryan Hilliard with 171 yards and one touchdown, while quarterback Jason Smith completed 10-of-17 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those TD passes went to Tony Washington, who had four catches for 92 yards. Deionte Gordon led the team with 10 tackles, one interception and three pass break ups.
Sacramento State scored on long touchdown passes in two of its three possessions. On the fourth drive, the Bears forced the Hornets into two timeouts and after a Sacramento State false start, Matt King recorded a huge sack, forcing a fumble which Logan Zabel recovered on the 19-yard line.
On Sacramento State's first play from scrimmage, Smith threw a 66-yard dart to Washington for the touchdown. The Hornets punted their next possession and then drove 57 yards on two plays in just 44 seconds. The scoring play was a 53-yard pass to Baker from Smith for the 14-0 lead.
The Bears took advantage of the short field, driving the 19 yards on three plays, capped off by Waggener's first rushing touchdown. Michael York's kick brought the Bears within seven, 14-7 with 1:45 to play in the first quarter.
On the very next drive, Sarmento forced and recovered a fumble by Smith again setting up a short field for the Bears. York made the 20-yard field goal to make the score 14-10 with 10:57 left before half. The Bears drove 21 yards in five plays.
Sacramento State added a field goal of its own with 5:53, a 27-yarder by Gamboa to push the lead for the Hornets back to a touchdown at 17-10. The drive went 50 yards on nine plays and took 4:57 off the clock.
The Bears turned the ball over on a fumble, their first fumble lost in six games giving the Hornets a short field to work with, but once again the NC redzone defense proved tough as Stephen Michon intercepted a pass on the 13-yard line. The Hornet defense answered as Davis intercepted a Waggener pass and returned it 27 yards for the touchdown for the 24-10 score.
A 44-yard pass to Thompson from Waggener set up a 24-yard field goal by York as the clock whined down for the 24-13 halftime score.
Deonte Gordon intercepted a Waggener pass on the Bears' first drive out of the locker room and then Quincy Wofford returned the favor, picking off a Smith pass on the ensuing drive.
Waggener liked the feel of his first rushing touchdown so much in the first half, he kept the ball on a short and goal for his second of the season with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter and then missed on the two-point conversion for the 24-19 score. The drive took 5:36 and went 80 yards on 13 plays.
The Hornets answered with a touchdown drive of their own, going 71 yards in 10 plays, eating 5:33 off the clock. The TD came on a 10-yard pass from Smith to Washington for the 31-19 lead. They added to their lead with another long touchdown strike when Smith hit Chase Deadder on a 68-yard pass to make the score 38-19.
Waggener hit Thompson for a 25-yard touchdown with 7:47 left in the contest and a two-point conversion again failed make the score 38-25. The Bears' drive went 91 yards on seven plays in 2:14. The Bears recovered the onside kick, taking possession on the 39-yard line, however a bad snap force the Bears into a punt. Sacramento State's Darnell Worthy blocked the punt and the Hornets recovered on the one-yard line. Three plays later the Hornets put seven more on the board for the final score of 45-25.
The Bears close out their 2008 season next Saturday at Portland State. Kickoff is slated for 1:05 (Pacific), 2:05 (Mountain).