No. 6 Sac State football team crushes Idaho 31-7, keeps conference championship hopes alive

Thomson returns as running game carries Hornets to fourth straight road win


Eucario Calderon

Sac State junior quarterback Kevin Thomson throws a pass against No. 3 Weber State on Nov. 2 at Hornet Stadium. Thomson returned from injury Saturday to lead the Hornets to a 31-7 road win at Idaho.

Mack Ervin III

The Sacramento State football team took care of business by getting a 31-7 win over the University of Idaho on Saturday, setting themselves up for a possible Big Sky title and playoff berth.

The Hornets (8-3, 6-1 Big Sky Conference) entered the game at No. 6 in the STATS and Coaches polls following a last-minute comeback win over Northern Arizona University while Idaho (4-7, 2-5) was coming off a 42-17 loss to No. 5 University of Montana.

Idaho got the ball first but fumbled on the opening drive, with Sac State senior defensive back Caelan Barnes recovering the loose ball. 

Junior quarterback Kevin Thomson started after missing the last game with an undisclosed injury, leading the Hornets down the field following Barnes’s fumble recovery before running it in from four yards out to give Sac State an early 7-0 lead.

A punt by Idaho on the ensuing drive allowed the Hornets another chance to score, but Idaho freshman defensive back Christian Nash prevented a touchdown by knocking the ball out of the hands of Sac State sophomore tight end Marshel Martin. Hornets senior kicker Devon Medeiros missed the ensuing 47 yard field goal try, leaving the score at 7-0 through the first quarter.

A bad snap saw the ball go sailing behind Idaho senior quarterback Mason Petrino, with junior defensive linemen Josiah Erickson there to recover for Sac State. A running into the kicker penalty against Idaho on Medeiros’ next field goal attempt gave the Hornets a 4th and 1 opportunity, which they converted and turned into a four yard touchdown rush from junior running back Elijah Dotson.

Idaho was held to only 194 total yards in the game, a feat that junior linebacker Marcus Hawkins said was something the defense owed to the offense.

“We tried to give them the ball as much as we can. That’s our main motto on defense,” Hawkins said. “We want to get the ball to our offense as many chances as they can get because as anyone could see, we could score. So our job is really just to give them the ball and we have a good game plan every week. Our coaches have really set everything really well for us.”

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Junior RB B.J. Perkinson also got on the scoresheet with a 22-yard rushing touchdown toward the end of the quarter. Combined with a 33-yard field goal from Medeiros, the Hornets took a 24-0 lead headed into halftime.

Head coach Troy Taylor talked about Thomson’s return and how the run game helped them through some of the struggles passing.

“Kevin missed a couple (throws), that’s not typical of him,” Taylor said. “He also had a couple that should’ve been caught, so it wasn’t all him. We just weren’t quite as in sync as I’d like to see us throwing and catching the ball. But we did run the ball well.” 

Midway through the third quarter, a bad snap sent the ball over Thomson’s head on fourth and goal, eventually being recovered at the 25 yard line and turning the ball over to Idaho. The Vandals used the drive to put their first points on the board courtesy of a 24 yard touchdown catch by sophomore wide receiver Cutrell Haywood, cutting the lead to 24-7.

The next score wouldn’t come until the fourth quarter as both teams struggled to move the ball downfield. Dotson got another rushing touchdown with just over 11 minutes left in the game to make it 31-7.

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Dotson, who finished with 121 all purpose yards, said that a combination of Thomson returning and the play of the offensive line made his job easy.

“Having Kev back made it a lot easier on the run game because it takes a lot of the focus off of myself and BJ,” Dotson said. “Watching Kev as a defense, it’s kinda hard to see what we’re going to do. But at the end of the day you give all the credit to the (offensive) line because they’re opening great holes.”

With the game fully under their control, the Hornets simply ran the clock down and cruised home to a 31-7 win.

Combined with No. 5 Montana’s 35-16 win over No. 3 Weber State University, the Hornets now sit in a three-way tie atop the Big Sky, keeping the hope of an automatic playoff bid alive.

The eighth win on the season for the Hornets on Saturday set a new record for most single season wins in Division I program history.

Taylor said that the team is excited for the chance to play for a conference title, surpassing any expectations before the season.

“(We) just didn’t really have any expectations other than just trying to get better each day and see where it took us,” Taylor said. “These guys have bought in and we’re one game away from being able to win a Big Sky Championship. So we’re fired up.”

Dotson agreed with his coach, but said the players knew the team was going to be good.

“Our whole expectation was to win. So we were expecting this at the end of the season anyway,” Dotson said. “We just gotta keep working, keep our heads down and just keep moving.”

Sac State’s next game is the Causeway Classic next Saturday against UC Davis at 2 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.