Sac State football hosts Big Sky foe in home opener

James Frazier

The lights will be on Saturday at Hornet Stadium as Sacramento State football takes on Weber State in its home debut.

Coach Jody Sears will be leading the Hornets up against a team he was once familiar with.

Sears joined Weber State as a defensive coordinator in 2012 only to be promoted to head coach within weeks, a position he held during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He will look to hand his former team a 0-3 start, with the Wildcats having lost to No.16-ranked Arizona State 45-14 and North Dakota State 24-7, respectively.

Sac State (1-1) is coming in after suffering a marginal 55-14 loss to California and will try to bounce back against a struggling Weber State (0-2). The Hornets came out on top 31-3 when the two teams last met in 2013.

Wildcats have the upper hand with a series record of 11-7 since their annual match up began in 1996.

Cornerback Josh Armstrong assured that the Hornets intend to take this rematch seriously regardless of the opposing team’s current standings.

“We have a good game plan right now. We’re a little more focused after a really solid week of practice,” Armstrong said. “We’ll be ready. It’s the first home game so we’ve got to put on a show.”

Armstrong also said that despite the coach downplaying the history of the matchup in practice and team meetings, there is indeed extra motivation for the players to win this one.

After going 4-19 in two seasons as head coach for Weber State, Sears was dismissed in 2013.

“He’s been treating it like any other game, but of course we want to go out and make a statement,” Armstrong said.

The play of quarterback Garrett Safron has certainly made a statement. Safron’s 73-yard touchdown run was a bright spot in a tough loss to Cal last week, but he assured that it was just a matter of recognizing the play and executing.

“I just saw it open and went for it,” Safron said.

He also gave credit to his offensive line for several key blocks that opened up running lanes, as he took off on a read-option in the third quarter and did not stop until he scored what would be Sac State’s last points of the day.

Much like teammate Armstrong, the quarterback credited the team’s refocus to an effective week of practice and preparation.

“We’re definitely ready to bounce back,” Safron said. “We had a few mental errors last game but we’ve watched film and corrected those mistakes in practice. We’ll be ready to go.”

Safron will look to add to his 400 passing yards and six touchdowns. The 73-yard run also gave him 133 rushing yards gained on the young season.

Junior linebacker Darnell Sankey leads the Hornets with 25 total tackles with a single game career-high, 15 of them coming last week against Cal. Sankey also registered another interesting statistic in the box score: his first carry on offense, a 2-yard rush for a first down.

Sankey is more focused on his primary duty of anchoring the defense as the Hornets look to defend their home field.

“They’ve got a strong offense and a hard-nosed run game,” Sankey said. “We’ve got to do our job of filling up the middle and hopefully forcing some mistakes.”

Sankey also acknowledged the meeting of Sears against his former team, but insisted that it is just another day at the office for the veteran coach.

“He’s strictly business,” Sankey said. “He always does a great job of getting us prepared for every game and this one is no different.”

The kickoff for Sac State’s home opener is at 6 p.m. Despite Weber State being a Big Sky Conference opponent this game will not be factored into the standings as it is a non-conference game.

You can listen to the game on KTKZ 1380 AM (The Answer) and stream online audio through