RECAP: Sac State stays undefeated against FBS opponent Colorado State

The Hornets roll past Rams 41-10, start 3-0 for the first time in 30 years


Alyssa Branum

Sacramento State dominated their lone FBS opponent, blowing past the Colorado State Rams 41-10 Saturday at Sonny Lubick Field at Canvas Stadium. A stifling Hornet defense, and a pair of senior Asher O’Hara touchdowns helped the Hornets cruise to 3-0 in a dominant showing in Fort Collins, CO.

Jack Freeman

Sacramento State traveled to Fort Collins, Colorado to take on the winless Colorado State Rams on Saturday, Sept. 24. 

Both teams had a lot on the line with the Rams looking for their first win of the year. The Hornets were looking for their first 3-0 start as a Division I program. 

Colorado State opened the game on offense with starting quarterback redshirt sophomore Clay Millen leading the helm. The Rams opened by moving the ball to about midfield before the drive stalled.

Sac State started their first drive of the game at their own 26-yard line. Senior quarterback Jake Dunniway started the game by finding sophomore receiver Jared Gipson three times on four plays. Gipson ended with five catches for 50 yards in the game.

The Hornets went with an up-tempo approach that worked their way to midfield. Dunniway threw a screen to junior wideout Parker Clayton who carried it for a 32-yard gain. 

Once inside the red zone, senior quarterback Asher O’Hara checked in. O’Hara found the end zone, his fifth rushing touchdown of the year.


Sac State: 7, CSU: 0

Millen led the Rams back out and they once again moved the ball to midfield quickly. The quarterback ran for 12 yards to set up a third down and short. The Rams went to the screen game, but junior Sac State corner Caleb Nelson sniffed it out and laid a strong hit to end the drive.

Dunniway and the Hornets started their drive from their own 13-yard line. After a quick first down, the Hornets struggled to get the passing game going. On third down, sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo was called for a false start– which set up a third and a mile.

Skattebo made a catch on third down, but it was for nine yards and they needed 15. The Hornets would punt.

The Rams started the drive quickly, getting some good runs after handing it off to redshirt senior A’Jon Vivens. Millen then loaded up a cannon shot deep and found his favorite target: senior wideout Tory Horton for 56 yards. The Rams then ran three straight times for no gain and settled for a field goal.


Sac State: 7, CSU: 3

O’Hara started at quarterback during this drive. On third down, O’Hara looked for senior Pierre Williams, where a penalty moved the chains for the Hornets. Dunniway then checked in and he found Williams for a first down. O’Hara went 10-10 throwing the ball for 71 yards and a touchdown.

Sac State went up-tempo and junior Marcus Fulcher got 16 yards on the ensuing play. Eventually, the Hornets found themselves inside the red zone after another penalty on Colorado State while covering Williams.

One of the most improbable plays of the year followed when Dunniway dropped back from the 5-yard line, looked and threw a dart over the middle. The pass was tipped up and sent toward the back of the end zone. The ball went back towards Williams in the end zone who jumped up and made an impressive catch.

“I kinda froze,” Williams said. “I was just sitting there looking at [the ball], thinking ‘I could actually get this,’ so I just waited for it to come down, went up and snagged it.”




Sac State: 14, CSU: 3

The Rams came back out and set themselves up on another third-and-short, this time backed up by their own end zone. On third down, Millen rolled out of the pocket but was met by senior nickel back Marte Mapu who brought him down hard to force a punt.

After a tough shot from Mapu, Millen suffered a shoulder injury and would not reenter the game. The Ram’s backup, true freshman Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi, took over the quarterbacking duties for the remainder of the game for CSU.

A low liner of a punt landed in Fulcher’s hand– who took it up field– racing down the sideline before being pushed out at the Rams 16-yard line. Fulcher’s huge return set up a screen right back to him as he pounded his way into the end zone. 


Sac State: 21, CSU: 3

Fowler-Nicolosi and the Rams went three-and-out on the first drive of the young freshman’s career. 

Looking to extend their lead, the Hornets drove down inside the red zone again. But after Dunniway spun, twisted and did everything he could to avoid a sack, the ball ended up in the hands of Colorado State’s sophomore corner Jack Howell.

After the interception, Colorado State had a chance to get back into the game. On his second drive, Fowler-Nicolosi looked much more composed. He finally got time and found Horton deep for his first career touchdown pass on the 52-yard completion.


Sac State: 21, CSU: 10

“We were resilient,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said. “They expect to win, and if something doesn’t go right, they just stick with it. They’ve always been like that since we’ve been here. [I’m] just so proud of these guys.”

WIth just over a minute left in the half, the Hornets drove down into field goal range. Senior Kyle Sentkowski sent his first attempt of the game through the uprights to end the half with a commanding lead for the Hornets heading into the locker room.


Sac State: 24, CSU: 10

Coming out of halftime, Sac State got the ball but punted it, pinning the Rams inside their own 10-yard line. The Rams moved the ball out to midfield and went for it on fourth down and short. Vivens was stopped and fumbled the ball and Sac State junior Jeremy Harris fell on it.

With good starting field position, the Hornets used up-tempo offense to get themselves inside the red zone. On third-and-goal, they dialed up O’Hara– who scored for the sixth time this year. 


Sac State: 31, CSU: 10

The Rams couldn’t get anything going on offense on their next drive, as it stalled at midfield. A bad punt set the Hornets up with good field position again. 

“We had a great game plan coming in,” junior linebacker Jett Stanley said. “We all knew what we had to do on certain assignments and play calls. We played on all three levels together; we did well today.”

The Hornets got themselves into field goal range, but senior cornerback Angel King made a great play on a Dunniway pass to force a Sentkowski kick. From 47 yards out, the kick was true.


Sac State: 34, CSU: 10

Colorado State quickly went three-and-out and the Hornets initiated their chew clock drive. Cutting 10 minutes off the clock, Sac State drove down and Skattebo punched it in for a touchdown.


Sac State: 41, CSU: 10

Colorado State tried four more plays, but to no avail. The Hornets knelt out the clock and closed their first win over an FBS opponent in 10 years.

“[The win] means a lot,” Williams said. “We’ve been really close almost every year we’ve played an FBS team. To finally get one the way we did is a good feeling.” 

Sac State is on the road again next week. They’ll be in San Luis Obispo taking on Cal Poly. This game opens up Big Sky conference play for the Hornets.

“Same mentality as this week,” Stanley said. “Learn our opponents, study them and come out ready to play.”



Sac State was paid $400,000 to make the trip to Fort Collins and play the Rams. 




This was the largest margin of victory for an FCS team over an FBS team since 2017. The Hornets made a statement with this win.

Williams moved his way up the record charts today, passing Isiah Hennie for fourth on the all time receptions list and tying Marsel Martin and Lamont Webb for fifth most touchdown catches of all time.
Dunniway tied Jeff Fleming for the 14th most passing attempts by a Hornet quarterback.

O’Hara rushed for two more touchdowns Saturday, totaling six on the year. O’Hara is only three touchdowns away from tying his career high as a Hornet.