On a night dedicated to seniors, Sacramento State running back Jordan Robinson couldn’t help but stand out as the Hornets defeated Portland State 42-35 at Hornet Stadium.
Robinson rushed for a career-high 262 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries in his last game at Sacramento to help Sac State (2-8, 2-6 Big Sky) earn its second victory of the season against the Vikings (3-7, 2-5 Big Sky) on Saturday.
“Even though we’ve had a rough season, everybody in that locker room really wanted to get a (win) and we definitely did that,” Robinson said. “It was closer than we wanted it to be, but we got one.”
The score was tied on five separate occasions (7-7, 14-14, 21-21, 28-28, 35-35) throughout the game thanks in large part to a Portland State rushing attack (424) that outgained the Hornets (324) by 100 yards on the ground. Senior quarterback Alex Kuresa led the majority of this charge with 198 rushing yards and two touchdowns on only 15 carries in the read-option formation.
“They made some changes that we had to adjust to, but there were a couple formations we were able to pop Alex loose for the long runs,” Portland State head coach Bruce Barnum said after his team fell short by one score. “Jody and I joked it seems like every time we play it’s a chess match with him on defense and me on offense so they got us and he got one more than we did.”
Robinson only had 40 yards on the ground with 6:25 remaining in the first half, but this changed quickly as he bursted through the middle of the Portland State defense for a 75-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game 21-21. The back-and-forth contest was primarily carried by Robinson, who went on to run for three touchdowns in the second half and finish with the sixth-best rushing performance in program history.
“Just tremendous heart and he’s a really good football player,” Sac State head coach Jody Sears said. “I could put him out there at corner — we play him at slot and he can return punts, he can return kicks. He’s so valuable to us and he just has a tremendous heart that you were able to witness today.”
The outcome of the game was eventually placed into the hands of the Sac State defense — which allowed over 500 total yards (522) for the sixth time this year and allows an average of 39.2 points per contest — after Robinson rushed for his final touchdown of the night to take a 42-35 lead with 1:56 remaining.
After a 36-yard rush by Kuresa on third down, Portland State eventually drove down to the three-yard line with just under 20 seconds on the clock. Senior quarterback Paris Penn took the ball from the wildcat formation into the endzone, but the play was called back due to holding and Kuresa failed to convert with an errant pass on fourth down.
“We gave up too many big plays in the run game — that’s kind of been the thorn in our side (and) that quarterback is an awesome player and he’s hard to contain,” Sears said. “We had guys for him, but he makes plays. It was fourth and 12 and we had been playing quite a bit of man so we went to zone to try and keep the game in front of us and I think that helped. He just overthrew the guy — that was a great stand.”
Sac State will next travel across the Yolo Causeway to play rival UC Davis, which is 44-19 against the Hornets dating back to 1954, for the final game of the season on Nov. 19 at Aggie Stadium.
“That’s the most important one — we could win no games, but we’ve got to win Davis,” Robinson said in regards to bringing back the Causeway Cup to Sacramento. “There’s no exceptions with that so this is a good little momentum going into Davis week. I’m sure (they) don’t like us, we don’t like them.”
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
After earning its second win of the season, the Hornets avoid finishing with only one victory for the first time since 1997 when the football program went 1-10 overall and 1-7 in the Big Sky.
After becoming the eighth Hornet in program history to rush for 200-plus yards in a game, Robinson is only 99 yards and three touchdowns away from surpassing Troy Mills for fifth place in team history in both categories.
The Sac State defense had three players record 11 total tackles or more throughout the game. Junior linebacker Tyler Meteer led the way with 12 total tackles and one sack, sophomore linebacker Malcolm Thomas had 11 total takedowns and sophomore defensive back Manny Scott-Anderson posted 11 total tackles to lead the team with 95 on the year.
Ketteringham threw two interceptions for the fifth time this season. He has completed 156 of 303 passes for 1,902 yards, 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions through 10 games this year.
The Hornets allowed five rushing touchdowns to an opposing team for the fourth time of the season.
Sac State allowed 100 rushing yards or more to an opposing quarterback for the third time in 10 games as Kuresa rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Previous opposing quarterbacks Chris Murray (Montana State) on Oct. 1 and Keaton Studsrud (North Dakota) on Oct. 8 rushed for a combined total of 287 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries.
“It’s your rival, it’s your crosstown foe, the neighborhood dude you want to beat every time,” Sears said in regards to the UC Davis matchup on Nov. 19. “Like (Robinson) said, they don’t like us, we sure as heck don’t like them. We’re going to enjoy this win for 24 hours, but it’s back to the grind. It’s the spirit of the rivalry (and) I don’t care if it’s USC-UCLA, Sac State-Davis, Army-Navy — it’s why we play the game and I can’t wait to watch these kids go play them next week.”
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