Hornets fall at Weber State

Jeremiah Martinez

It was a rough night for Daniel Kniffin and the Sacramento State offense, as the quarterback threw three interceptions in a 32-14 loss against Weber State University in their final non-conference game on Saturday night.

Kniffin went 14-for-32 with 137 yards and one touchdown on the night, and Wildcats’ safety Jawian Harrison had all three picks against the signal-caller.

Also, the Hornets were outgained 448-246 yards offensively in the game.

The Wildcats ran more plays (85) than the Hornets (55) as well.

Sac State coach Jody Sears said turnovers played a significant factor in the loss.

“Defensively, we held some drives and made them kick field goals, but that’s still not good enough because now we’re minus five in the turnover margin on the year,” Sears said. “We can’t turn the ball over and we have to sustain drives.”

After the Wildcats led 3-0, they attempted a trick play consisting of an option-pass-back play to quarterback Jadrian Clark from Cam Livingston in the first quarter, but failed on a two-point conversion.

“Defensively, we gave up the trick play and hell, we worked on that trick play, we ran it twice during the week,” Sears said. “We knew it was coming, so we didn’t play [it] good enough.”

The lone highlight for the Hornets was a dominant performance from Darnell Sankey, who set the single-game program record with 27 tackles.

The record was previously held by Ryland Wickman, who accumulated 22 tackles against Eastern Washington University on Oct. 11, 1997.

Previously, Sankey had 21 tackles against Montana State University last season.

Also, the linebacker moved up to 12th all-time in program history with 220 career tackles.

“He’s the heart and soul of our defense,” Sears said. “He’s a really good leader, he’s a really good football player and we got to just keep doing a good job of putting him into position to make plays.”

After being held scoreless for their last seven quarters, the Hornets’ offense came to life with a Jordan Robinson 69-yard rushing score to cut Weber State’s lead to 15-7 in the third quarter.

Weber State would answer on the ensuing drive with a Josh Kealamakia 49-yard field goal, his fourth of the day.

In the fourth quarter, the Hornets couldn’t answer with several stalled drives, as they were able to move the ball into Wildcats’ territory only once.

The Wildcats went in for the finish with a 27-yard rushing score from Cory Thomson that capped off a 13-play, 87-yard drive that lasted more than seven minutes.

On the ensuing drive, Hornets’ receiver Justin Cox caught his first touchdown on an eight-yard pass from Kniffin. It was one of the few highlights from the offense.

The struggles for the Hornets’ offense included converting on third downs (4-for-12) and first down conversions, in which Sac State had 14 to the Wildcats’ 26.

Sears said penalties and miscues were mistakes the offense can’t continue to make this season.

“The one drive that keeps ringing [up] in my mind is [when] we got a seven-yard gain called back for holding that put us on first-and-20,” Sears said. “Foolish penalties and turnovers are the recipe of the day.”

Sac State will look to shake off the loss when they start conference play against Eastern Washington at home next weekend.

The Hornets went 4-4 in conference last season and carry a three-game winning streak in Big Sky play, dating back to last year.

Next Saturday’s matchup is slated for a 6:05 p.m. kickoff.