Sac State football escapes Northern Colorado with a 27-24 victory

Strong defensive play late in the game leads the Hornets to victory


Isabelle Juarez

Sophomore nickelback Jace O’Hara (right) and freshman safety Cameron Broussard (left) track the ball carrier down against Northern Arizona University on Oct. 23, 2021. The Hornets are 5-0 in Big Sky conference play after a close 27-24 victory against Northern Colorado.

Brandon Bailey

A sack by senior defensive lineman Josiah Erickson sealed the game for the Sacramento State football team in what turned out to be a close 27-24 away victory against Northern Colorado on Saturday. 

In a last ditch effort, Northern Colorado attempted to drive the length of the field with only 16 seconds remaining in the contest. 

“We just knew we needed a big plan,” Erickson said. “Obviously we didn’t play the best game that we had, but the whole thing is we stuck together and we just finished strong as you can see. We just finished the game and that’s all that matters.” 

It was a second half filled with defensive stops as the Hornets and the Bears struggled to get things going. 

Both teams took care of the ball right up until the fourth quarter where Northern Colorado’s freshman running back Gene Sledge Jr fumbled, giving the Hornets great field position. 

Sac State capitalized on an 11-yard rushing touchdown to freshman running back Cameron Skattebo on what looked like the game-sealing touchdown with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before Northern Colorado’s senior quarterback Dylan McCaffrey and graduate student wide receiver Dylan Thomas would connect again on a 49-yard pass putting them in Sac State’s red zone and eventually leading to a one-yard McCfaffrey touchdown. 


Head coach Troy Taylor said it was not the team’s “cleanest performance,” but he was glad that they came away with the victory. 

“You got to credit Northern Colorado, the coaching staff did a great job,” Taylor said. “Kids were ready to play for four quarters, and it took everything we had to win this game.”

Three different Hornet players had at least five carries by the end of the first half, and Skattebo led the way by continuing to build off of his success  from last week’s homecoming game, amounting 116 yards on 11 carries and one rushing touchdown to top it off. 

It would not be long before Sac State’s physical play would result in a score as they capitalized with a field goal on their first drive of the game followed by a two-yard passing touchdown from junior quarterback Asher O’Hara to sophomore tight end Marshel Martin, jumping out to a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.  

The Hornet offense would go cold in the second quarter and punt after starting with a fumble, punt and turnover on downs three consecutive drives in a row, but a 25-yard off- balance throw from O’Hara to freshman wide receiver Chris Miller would spark a drive. Senior running back BJ Perkinson finished it off on a one-yard touchdown making it a two-score game. 

Northern Colorado’s offense was stagnant and punted the ball on their first three offensive possessions, but a strip sack by junior linebacker RJ Potts would give the Bears a jolt of energy. 

Also in the second quarter, McCaffrey dialed it up and threw an 84-yard bomb to graduate Thomas on what looked like a touchdown before Thomas dropped the ball on the one-yard line. 

The Bears scored the following play on a one-yard touchdown from Sledge. 


The Bears found a connection between McCaffrey and Thomas and opened up the second half with a 43-yard strike across the middle of the field putting them inside Sac State’s 26-yard line before marching into the endzone on a one-yard touchdown run for Sledge’s second touchdown of the game. 

On the ensuing kickoff, freshman wide receiver Devin Gandy returned the ball 58 yards to put the Hornets on Northern Colorado’s 35-yard line. 

The Bears stood tall and held the Hornets to a field goal before getting a field goal of their own on the next drive making the score 20-17 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. 

The Hornets struggled to get on the same page in the passing game, completing 14 of 28 of their passes and throwing for a season low of only 171 total passing yards, but it would be enough as the rushing attack and defensive play carried the Hornets to a victory. 

“It was everybody,” Taylor said. “We had some penalties, some drops and some execution and protection breakdowns in the run game. The positive thing is our guys are resilient and they find a way to win.” 

 The Hornets prevailed, and now they return home to face off against Cal Poly on Nov.  6 as they try to stay undefeated in conference play. 

“We’re not really disappointed,” O’Hara said. “We just know we have so much work to do, and we could be so much better, but to come out on top on the road is really good.”