Sac State crushes Portland State 49-20, team closer to Big Sky title

Hornet defense forced four turnovers


Jordan Parker

Junior quarterback Jake Dunniway (12) throws to his right with freshman running back Cameron Skattebo (32) blocking in front at Hornet Stadium on Nov. 13, 2021. The Hornets beat the Portland State Vikings 49-20 for their seventh consecutive win.

Brandon Bailey

Sacramento State football dominated Portland State in a 49-20 victory at Hornet Stadium on Saturday with a strong defensive effort that resulted in four turnovers for the Vikings.

The Hornets celebrated senior night in their victory tonight, with head coach Troy Taylor’s goal going forward to get another Big Sky title for the seniors that were a part of the title run in 2019.

“I got some guys that are a part of the last championship in 2019, and hopefully we can give them another one,” Taylor said.

The Hornets didn’t start the game how they wanted and they trailed for the first time in 276 mins and 24 seconds after a strike from Portland State senior quarterback Davis Alexander to freshman wide receiver Darien Chase in the back of the endzone giving the Vikings a 7-6 lead.

According to junior quarterback Jake Dunniway the Hornets had to battle through adversity early on and execute each drive whether they were putting points on the board or not. It was all about continuing to “chop the wood.”

“We felt pretty comfortable throughout the game but they play with a lot of energy and like coach Taylor said they had a lot to play for so we just had to go out there and just kind of battle through some adversity,” Dunniway said.

Six seconds after Portland State’s touchdown, Sac State freshman wide receiver Devin Gandy returned a 94-yard kickoff return to give the Hornet offense the spark they needed. It was the first kickoff return touchdown for the Hornets since 2014.

“It was exciting because I know it was a big turning point in the game, something we needed,” Gandy said. “I just like contributing to the team so it felt good.”

The first half was filled with turnovers and a back and forth flip of momentum before a 59-yard bomb from Dunniway to Gandy, resulted in freshman running back Cameron Skattebo finishing off the drive on a four yard touchdown pass from Dunniway gave the Hornets a 21-7 lead at halftime.

According to Coach Taylor they have been watching Gandy play for the last couple of years because of the COVID-19 season, and have been confident in his ability to make an impact early in his career as a Hornet.

“We’ve been watching him for the last couple of years now because of the COVID thing and knew that his potential and ability was really off the chart,” Taylor said. “You got a taste of what he’s all about tonight.”

Sac State obtained the first turnover of the game on a strip sack by senior linebacker Marcus Hawkins, and it would not be the only turnover of the first half for the Hornets as junior cornerback Dominick Sanders intercepted Alexander for his first interception of the season.

Munchie Filer III also came up with a crucial interception and his fourth of the season to prevent a Viking touchdown inside the Hornets red zone.

The Hornets had struggles of their own late in the second quarter and a fumble by sophomore tight end Marshel Martin almost gave the Vikings the upper hand inside of Sac State’s 40-yard line, but the Hornet secondary continued to apply pressure.

Still, the Hornet secondary would not be denied and an interception by junior nickelback Marte Mapu changed the tide of the game.

By the time the second half started, Sac State’s offense was rolling and the Hornet defense was not letting up.

The Hornets allowed one touchdown late in the third quarter to Portland State senior running back Malik Walker, but prior to that the Hornets scored two touchdowns of their own.

Sac State carried its momentum from the end of the first half into the third quarter and on their opening drive they drove 71 yards before finishing with a touchdown on an eight-yard pass from junior quarterback Asher O’Hara to Martin.

The Hornets pounded their way through the second half with rushing efforts from O’Hara that resulted in 102 yards and a touchdown, along with an 85-yard rushing output and touchdown from Skattebo that carried the team to a 49-20 victory.

Earlier this season the coaches challenged the offensive line to play better and senior offensive lineman Kooper Richardson said it all came down to everyone doing their job.

“We always keep chopping the wood and at some point it’s going to hit, even if it’s not working at the beginning, it’s going to break through at some point,” Richardson said.

Next Saturday Sac State faces off against UC Davis at 1 p.m. for the Causeway Classic that may determine whether the Hornets win their second consecutive Big Sky title.