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Sac State football runs over Idaho State 41-21 at homecoming

+Sacramento+State+freshman+running+back+BJ+Perkinson+tries+to+break+a+tackle+against+Idaho+State+Saturday%2C+Oct.+15+at+Hornet+Stadium.+Perkinson+finished+with+a+game-high+155+rushing+yards+and+his+first+career+touchdown+in+a+41-21+homecoming+win+over+the+Bengals.+
 Sacramento State freshman running back BJ Perkinson tries to break a tackle against Idaho State Saturday, Oct. 15 at Hornet Stadium. Perkinson finished with a game-high 155 rushing yards and his first career touchdown in a 41-21 homecoming win over the Bengals.

Sacramento State freshman running back BJ Perkinson tries to break a tackle against Idaho State Saturday, Oct. 15 at Hornet Stadium. Perkinson finished with a game-high 155 rushing yards and his first career touchdown in a 41-21 homecoming win over the Bengals.

Liam Braddy - The State Hornet

Liam Braddy - The State Hornet

Sacramento State freshman running back BJ Perkinson tries to break a tackle against Idaho State Saturday, Oct. 15 at Hornet Stadium. Perkinson finished with a game-high 155 rushing yards and his first career touchdown in a 41-21 homecoming win over the Bengals.

Coming off a weeklong bye, Sacramento State celebrated its football homecoming with a 41-21 win over the visiting Idaho State Bengals Saturday night at Hornet Stadium.

The Hornets’ homecoming success was lead by an offense that finished with over 300 rushing yards (318) for the third straight game of the season, and a defense that tied a season-high record with six sacks.

“We’ve really been challenging these guys all year, and I thought our level of execution in terms of our fundamentals was fantastic,” said Jody Sears, the Hornets head coach. “When you run for 300 yards a game and throwing for 250 a game, it all goes back to fundamentals.”

After nearly 15 minutes of scoreless play in the first quarter, Sac State (3-3, 2-1 Big Sky Conference) junior quarterback Kevin Thomson found daylight for an eight-yard rushing touchdown. This score was Thomson’s eighth rushing touchdown in three games, and it gave the Hornets an early 7-0 lead.

“It really opens up our offense when you have a dual-threat quarterback,” Sac State senior receiver Isiah Hennie said, referring to Thomson’s ability to use his feet. “We saw him (during spring training camp, and) we didn’t think he had too much twist until he really came back during fall camp and really kind of turned it on.”

The Bengals (3-4, 1-3 Big Sky) turned on their offense as well and answered right back — thanks in part to a pass interference call on the Hornets in the back corner of the end zone — with a two-yard rushing score by Idaho State sophomore running back Ty Flanagan.

With a little over four minutes left in the second quarter, Sac State took the lead back after Thomson threw a strike to junior receiver Jaelin Ratliff for a 32-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead. The Hornets then got the ball back, and Thomson wasted little time by hitting Ratliff up for completions of 35 and 20 yards each. These connections set up Sac State for an 18-yard field goal by junior Devon Medeiros and a 17-7 lead going into halftime.

Despite the close score, the Hornets utterly dominated Idaho State in the first half at the line of scrimmage. Sac State out rushed the Bengals 111-27, and its defense had five sacks — two of which from sophomore defensive tackle Dariyn Choates — on junior quarterback Tanner Gueller in the first two quarters.

“Our No. 1 priority is to stop the run and create turnovers, and I feel like we did that today,” Sac State junior defensive end George Obinna said after finishing with four total tackles and two sacks. “Literally, (we) come with the same mentality: trying to stop the run, trying to create turnovers, we’re just trying to hit that quarterback.”

Idaho State continued to get outmuscled in the second half as Sac State freshman BJ Perkinson, who finished with a game-high 155 rushing yards on 17 carries and ran five yards into the end zone for his first career rushing touchdown.

The Bengals were able to answer the score with a touchdown of their own after Hennie fumbled a punt, which allowed Gueller, who finished 20-of-35 for 244 yards and two touchdowns, to connect with sophomore receiver Michael Dean for a 17-yard touchdown. But Hennie responded on the next drive with a 12-yard touchdown reception to reclaim their 17-point lead (31-14) with 6:51 left in the third quarter.

Sac State’s pass defense continued its struggles in the game as Gueller threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to his brother, sophomore receiver Mitch Gueller. The Gueller connection brought the score to a manageable 31-21 deficit for the Bengals with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter and put the Hornets back on their heels.

“That’s going to happen at times, but at the end of the day, we really didn’t give up many big plays,” Sears said. “(Idaho State) beat Nevada, and it was because they had three or four really monster plays that really was the difference in that game, and we just knew if we could just keep it in front of us (and) stop their running game, that we were going to have an advantage.”

This initial push back from the Bengals was short lived, however, as Sac State ran the ball in the fourth quarter with running backs Joseph Ajeigbe, Perkinson and Isaiah Gable all getting touches to milk the clock. Medeiros then added another field goal to his resume, and Ajeigbe plowed his way into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown to cruise into a 41-21 final score.

“I think coach Sears is doing a great job here,” said Rob Phenicie, the Bengals’ first-year head coach. “This team is not the Sac State of old.”

Sac State will continue conference play against North Dakota — which lost to Montana 41-17 on Saturday — at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 21 at Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

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