Football goes winless on road this season after NAU loss

Jeremiah Martinez

In a game that featured two freshmen starting quarterbacks, Case Cookus and the Northern Arizona offense was a problem for the Hornets defensively, as Sacramento State lost 49-35 on the road Saturday afternoon.

Sac State ended its road schedule winless at 0-6 after a 3-3 record away from Hornet Stadium last season.

It was the Hornets’ eighth loss in nine games and dropped the team’s record to 2-8 and 1-6 in Big Sky Conference play heading into next week’s Causeway Classic against UC Davis.

Sac State’s offense, led by true freshman quarterback Nate Ketteringham, competed well against Northern Arizona’s explosive offensive unit with a 14-14 tie to end the first quarter. Ketteringham connected with Shane Harrison in the endzone twice in the quarter.

After Northern Arizona regained the lead at 21-14 in the second quarter, the Lumberjacks score 14 unanswered points to take a 35-14 advantage heading into halftime. The Hornets were outgained 392-229 in the first half, as the Lumberjacks quick scoring drives of 49 seconds, 1:39, 1:29, 1:43 and 2:21 through the first two quarters.

Sac State got off to a good start defensively in the second half, forcing Northern Arizona to punt on its first two drives, but the Hornets failed to score in the third quarter.

After Cookus threw his fifth touchdown of the afternoon against the Hornets with 2:42 left in the third quarter, Sac State put together a nine-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a third connection between Ketteringham and Harrison.

During the scoring drive, Ketteringham had a 46-yard rush, which is the second longest by a Hornet this season. Jordan Robinson’s 67-yard scoring run against Weber State on Sept. 19 is the longest rush for the program this season.

In the fourth quarter, Sac State cut its deficit within two scores after Garrett Steele rushed for two yards to cut Northern Arizona’s lead to 42-28 with 5:49 to play.

The Hornets attempted an onside kick, but failed to recover before Cookus threw his sixth touchdown to Eljiah Marks– his third touchdown catch of the game– which widened the gap at 49-28.

With 1:28 left to play, redshirt freshman Jabarri Johnson caught his first career touchdown on a four-yard pass from Ketteringham, which was his fourth of the day.

Northern Arizona outgained Sac State 536 to 472 yards in the game.

“That was a good football team,” said Sac State coach Jody Sears. “And we did not have an answer for their wide receivers.”

Ketteringham ended the night with 339 passing yards, completing 28-of-52 attempts, four touchdowns and two interceptions. The freshman was the first Hornets’ quarterback to exceed over 300 passing yards for the second straight game since Garrett Safron did so last season.

Sears said the young quarterback still needs to make minor adjustments in the collegiate level.

“He could’ve thrown it away a couple of times, but that’ll come,” Sears said. “The kid is a competitor. He’s trying to make a play, he’s trying to win, but [sometimes] throwing it away helps us win.”

Harrison put on a tremendous performance, hauling in 11 receptions for 152 yards along with his three touchdowns. The senior is the first to exceed over 100 receiving yards for three straight games since DeAndre Carter did so last season.

It was also Harrison’s second three-touchdown game of the year.

On the opposite end, senior receiver Nnamdi Agude caught six balls for 96 yards, which puts him eight behind Scott Towne’s for seventh all-time on the career receiving list in the program. Towne’s mark of 1,646 yards is a number Agude could exceed in his final game at Hornet Stadium next game.

The Hornets will close the 2015 campaign with the 62nd annual Causeway Classic next Saturday at home in a battle of teams who have struggled this season.

UC Davis will enter the game at 1-9 and 1-6 in conference play and are looking for its first road win this season. The Aggies have an 0-5 record on the road this year.

The Causeway Classic is slated for a 2:30 kickoff next Saturday at Hornet Stadium.