Sac State downs Cardinals 56-22 in football home opener

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Matthew Nobert - The State Hornet

Sacramento State junior receiver Andre Lindsey out runs University of Incarnate Word sophomore safety Chris Thomas for a touchdown Saturday, Sept. 9 at Hornet Stadium. Sac State defeated UIW 56-22 for its first win of the season.

After losing its first game of the season, the Sacramento State football team bounced back with a 56-22 home opening victory over the University of Incarnate Word Cardinals Saturday night at Hornet Stadium.

Sac State (1-1) began the game with an interception from junior transfer quarterback Kevin Thomson to UIW junior safety Jawun Jiles. However, after a fumble recovery by Sac State senior defensive end Ben Sorensen, Thomson hit senior receiver Isiah Hennie for a 44-yard touchdown with 11:02 remaining in the first quarter.

“It was good to see the offense get rolling and put some numbers up,” said Jody Sears, the Hornets head coach. “The turnover (margin) was huge and was something that we’ve been stressing for four years now and we ended up plus two.”

After the first quarter, Sac State still held onto its seven-point lead over UIW (0-2) and true freshman running back Elijah Dotson, who finished the game with one touchdown and 74 yards on nine carries, balanced his way down the right sideline and juked a defender for a 51-yard rushing touchdown.   

(Story continues below gallery)

Sac State junior cornerback Dre Terrell, who tied the Sac State program record with three interceptions, then grabbed his second interception of the game at the time to set up a seven-yard touchdown strike from Thomson to sophomore receiver Johnnie Rucker. UIW — which began its season with a 66-0 loss to Fresno State — experienced déjà vu as the Cardinals trailed 21-0 with 9:51 left in the first half.

“Coaches drew up a great game plan and (UIW) came out here and did everything we expected them to do and it put us in a perfect position to make plays,” Terrell said right before roommate Hennie interrupted the press conference to shout congratulations to him.

The Cardinals scored their first points of the season after Dotson fumbled the ball and freshman kicker Jose Perez connected on a 19-yard field goal to bring the game to 21-3. The Hornets responded with a 35-yard pass from Thomson to junior receiver Andre Lindsey and then a two-yard rushing touchdown by graduate transfer Joseph Ajeigbe for a 28-3 lead entering halftime.

“We didn’t play worth a damn and they played very good,” said Larry Kennan, the Cardinals fifth-year head coach. “We played the worst in the first half than we’ve ever played than I can remember and I don’t know why.”

The Hornets proceeded to enter cruise control as they allowed the Cardinals to score 19 points in the final two quarters of the game. UIW struggled to gather consistency as the San Antonio, Texas based team produced only 75 rushing yards, 231 passing yards and turned the ball over five times.

However, Sac State experienced no shortage of points either in the second half as they posted 28 more points to the scoreboard. The Hornets finished the game with 377 passing yards and 158 rushing yards.

Thomson ended his night 10-of-16 for 320 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Lindsey led the receiving core with four receptions for 176 yards and one touchdown.

“It was a good (game) for sure,” Thomson said after becoming the first Sac State quarterback to toss five touchdowns since Garrett Safron in 2014. “We had a sour taste in our mouth after the Idaho game, especially from an offensive perspective because we played lights out on D last week and they played lights out again.”

Sac State will continue its three-game homestand with a matchup against Weber State (1-1) — which lost 33-20 to the Pac-12 Conference’s Cal Golden Bears — at 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at Hornet Stadium.

All photos by Matthew Nobert