Hornets improve to 3-1 in Big Sky with 4th-string QB

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Hornets improve to 3-1 in Big Sky with 4th-string QB

Sacramento State freshman running back Elijah Dotson rushes past North Dakota senior defensive lineman Drew Greely Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Sac State defeated North Dakota 34-27.

Sacramento State freshman running back Elijah Dotson rushes past North Dakota senior defensive lineman Drew Greely Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Sac State defeated North Dakota 34-27.

Courtesy of Russ Hons/UND Athletics

Sacramento State freshman running back Elijah Dotson rushes past North Dakota senior defensive lineman Drew Greely Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Sac State defeated North Dakota 34-27.

Courtesy of Russ Hons/UND Athletics

Courtesy of Russ Hons/UND Athletics

Sacramento State freshman running back Elijah Dotson rushes past North Dakota senior defensive lineman Drew Greely Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Sac State defeated North Dakota 34-27.

Thomas Frey

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Without starting quarterback Kevin Thomson, the Sacramento State football team defeated North Dakota 34-27 to win on the road for the first time since 2014.

Sac State (4-3, 3-1 Big Sky Conference) announced that Thomson would be sidelined minutes before kickoff with an undisclosed injury and that the second and third string quarterbacks would also be out. There is no word on what Thomson’s injury is, but it set the stage for redshirt freshman Roman Ale.

Entering the game against North Dakota (2-6, 1-4 Big Sky), Ale had never taken a snap for the Hornets. He was eased into the game as the Hornets rushed the ball for the first eight plays. However, on a third-and-four, Ale stepped back and zipped the ball to senior receiver Isiah Hennie for 23 yards. The drive ended with a field goal and a 3-0 lead but most importantly, Ale seemed to establish confidence.

Ale, named City Player of the year by the Los Angeles Times in 2016, finished 13-of-19 for 263 yards and two touchdown connections with junior receiver Andre Lindsey.

The first touchdown came in the second quarter with the score tied 3-3 on a drive that started on Sac State’s own 31-yard line. On the first play, Lindsey sprinted past his defender and Ale hit him in stride as he raced up the sideline for a 69-yard score and a 10-3 lead with 7:38 remaining in the second quarter.

Courtesy of Russ Hons/UND Athletics
Sacramento State freshman running back Isaiah Gable avoids a tackle by North Dakota freshman linebacker Jake Rastas Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Sac State defeated North Dakota 34-27.

The next Ale-Lindsey connection occurred after a Hornets’ defensive stop to start the second half. With the score tied 10-10, Sac State had the ball at its own 44-yard line when Lindsey used his 6-foot-3 frame to make the catch in a jump ball situation against a North Dakota defender. Lindsey, who finished with 154 yards on four catches, then ran into the end zone to take a 17-10 lead at the start of the third quarter.

On the next North Dakota possession, Sac State junior defensive lineman Dariyn Choates strip sacked senior quarterback Keaton Studsrud, also  injuring him and taking him out of the game. Junior linebacker Marcus Bruce then scooped up the fumble and returned it for a touchdown to give the Hornets a 24-10 lead.

However, North Dakota cut the lead down to seven with backup quarterback Andrew Zimmerman and had a chance to tie at the end of the game, but the Hornets stopped them on four straight downs with under two minutes to play to end the game.

With Saturday’s win, Sac State won its first game on the road in nearly three years and improved to 3-1 in Big Sky play for the first time since 2013. The Hornets are also above .500 overall this late in a season for the first time since 2014.

The Hornets will next play Northern Arizona Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. in Flagstaff, Arizona.