Sac State cruises to 56-33 victory over Utah Tech in season opener

Hornets rush for over 350 yards, most in 20 years


Dominique Williams

Junior Sac State Cornerback Dillon Juniel flips the ball in celebration after picking off a Utah Tech pass for the Hornets’ third interception in the first quarter Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, against the Trail Blazers at Hornet Stadium. The Hornets started their season off 1-0 after their 56-33 win against Utah Tech Saturday.

Jack Freeman

Fresh off their back-to-back Big Sky Conference titles expectations are high for Sac State to get off on the right foot and chase an FCS championship. 

“Very pleased; our guys want to play better,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said. “That’s the curse of high expectations and wanting to be really good.” 

Utah Tech opened the game on offense redshirt freshman quarterback Victor Gabalis started strong with an easy completion to junior David Fisher. However, things quickly soured for the Trailblazers as three plays later, Sac State senior cornerback Marte Mapu picked Gabalis off.

Senior quarterback Asher O’Hara started the game at quarterback for the Hornets and got things going with a draw play. A personal foul penalty put the Hornets close to the red zone. A few runs later, senior quarterback Jake Dunniway came into the game and found junior tight end Marshel Martin to punch in Sac State’s first touchdown.


Sac State: 7, Utah Tech: 0

Gabalis came back out for the Trailblazers’ second drive and found Fisher deep for a huge 72 yard bomb. The drive stalled at the 3-yard-line, and on fourth and goal, Sac State junior cornerback Caleb Nelson picked Gabalis off and took it back to the house.

“Pick-6 means you don’t have to go back on offense,” Skattebo said. “Running with him, I mean you get tired, but you’ve got a whole other defensive possession to rest up.”


Sac State: 14, Utah Tech: 0

Utah Tech’s next drive saw some success as they drove down to their own 44, yet the drive ended in a punt. 

The Hornets would drive down the field and the drive culminated with O’Hara finding sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo on a swing route for a 14-yard touchdown. 

Sac State: 21, Utah Tech: 0

Gabalis and the Trailblazers took the field but wouldn’t stay out there long. Sac State junior cornerback Dillion Juniel jumped an out route and caught Sac State’s third interception of the night. 

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty brought  Sac State into their red zone. However, the Hornets couldn’t capitalize. Senior kicker Kyle Sentkowski missed his first field goal attempt of the season and the Hornets ended a drive with no points for the first time this season.

Gabalis’ day was over as Utah Tech turned to redshirt sophomore Kobe Tracy. Utah Tech’s next drive was quick, as they couldn’t convert on a 3rd and 4, which led to a punt. 

Sac State lost seven yards on a reverse play on first down and couldn’t recover and was forced to punt.

Utah Tech showed signs of life on Tracy’s second drive of the night. He connected with sophomore Washington State transfer Joey Hobert four times to bring the Trailblazers into the red zone. After Fisher dropped a would-be touchdown pass, Utah Tech settled for three. 


Sac State: 21, Utah Tech: 3

Freshman running back Elijah Tau-Tolliver returned the kickoff 44 yards, which put the Hornets in great field position. Sophomore receiver Jared Gipson beat his man on a route to the end zone, where Dunniway found him. However Skattebo was called for a 15-yard penalty, which stymied the drive. Sentkowski missed his second field goal attempt.

The Trailblazers would go 3 and out on their next drive, allowing Sac State to take over at their own 28-yard-line.

Sac State went into their up-tempo offense with Asher O’Hara at quarterback, and drove down the field. Despite taking an airborne shot to the chest at the goal line, on the very next play, O’Hara snuck it in for his first rushing touchdown of the year.



Sac State: 28, Utah Tech: 3

The Trailblazers answered quickly, as Tracy found Hobert for a beautiful 46-yard throw down the right side. Still riding the hot tempo of the offense,Tracy found Osborne on a 29-yard route and the first touchdown for Utah Tech this season.

Sac State: 28, Utah Tech: 10

On Sac State’s next drive they took a mix of Dunniway and O’Hara down to the goal line. O’Hara took a keeper into the red zone where he promptly found Marshel Martin for his second touchdown reception of the season.


Sac State: 35, Utah Tech: 10 – First Half Over

To start the third quarter Sac State got the ball and promptly went 3 and out. Utah Tech would answer back with a punt of their own. 

Sac State moved the chains for the first time this half on the ensuing drive. They drove inside of Trailblazer territory, until sophomore defensive lineman Syrus Webster forced a fumble on Jake Dunniway, which Utah Tech would recover.

Utah Tech took over with good field position and Tracy was determined to take advantage. He used his legs to extend plays and capitalize on Sac State’s man coverage. It paid off as sophomore running back Quali Conley would eventually punch it in from five yards out for Utah Tech’s first touchdown of the night.

The Trailblazers would attempt a 2-point conversion; however, it was incomplete.


Sac State: 35, Utah Tech: 16

On the next Hornet drive, Fulcher was determined to answer the Trailblazers score, running for 27 yards on the first play of the drive. A swarm of Hornets carried the ball into the red zone, where Dunniway found Gipson in the back of the endzone for his second touchdown toss of the game. 


Sac State: 42, Utah Tech: 16

Utah Tech would have an easier time passing on their next drive. Tracy would find his players for easy chunk plays down the field. Sac State senior defensive lineman Ariel Ngata stepped up on 2nd down with a 9-yard sack, which forced the Trailblazers to take a field goal.


Sac State: 42, Utah Tech: 19

We can call this the Cameron Skattebo drive. He started it by taking the first carry 16-yards.  Two plays later, Skattebo would gallop his way down the sideline for a 57 yard touchdown run to ice the game.

“I’ve never seen anyone like him, he’s just like a bowling ball,” O’Hara said. “It always takes a couple guys to get ’em down.”


Sac State: 49, Utah Tech: 19

After Sac State put the backups in, Tracy drove Utah Tech down the field, while Gabalis finished the job finding redshirt junior Micheal Moten who made a great snag to cut the lead.


Sac State: 49, Utah Tech: 26

Utah Tech would attempt an onside kick, where Skattebo scooped the kick up, burst forward and proceeded to carry three Trailblazers, with two at his feet for the final 10 yards into the end zone. Skattebo made the tacklers look like pee wee football players as he lumbered his way home.

“As we saw, the kicker tried to tackle [Skattebo] for like 20 yards,” O’Hara said to Skattebo.


Sac State: 56, Utah Tech: 26

Tracy wouldn’t give in however, as the Trailblazers continued slinging the rock. He found Osborne for 46-yards on the first play of the drive. Tracy found Hobert for a 3-yard touchdown.


Sac State: 56, Utah Tech: 33

Skattebo’s 153 rushing yards tonight breaks his career record, the young sophomore averaged 15.3 yards per carry.

“I like to win football games,” Skattebo said. “I do what I’m told… what comes, comes. I’m excited it was a career [record], but I got more games to play out there.”

Sac State also had the most rushing yards in a game, 378, since 2002.

“Our offensive line… they were really dominant,” Taylor said. “I think our tempo hurt [Utah Tech] a lot.”Sac State cruises to 56-33 victory over Utah Tech in season opener

The Hornets next matchup will be against the University of Northern Iowa, Saturday, Sept.17 at 2 p.m in Cedar Falls and will be streamed on ESPN+.