RECAP: Sac State dismantles Northern Colorado to move to 5-0

Hornets take home a 55-7 victory in return home


James Fife

Sacramento State senior quarterback Asher O’Hara leaps into the endzone for his 8th rushing touchdown against University of Northern Colorado on Saturday Oct.8,2022 during the Hornets’ 55-7. O’Hara is second in the Big Sky Conference in rushing touchdowns.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

Sacramento State football returned to Hornet Stadium for the first time in a month Saturday, crushing Northern Colorado 55-7.

Sac State opened this game on offense, quickly moving the ball across midfield. Both senior quarterbacks Asher O’Hara and Jake Dunniway got in on the drive; however a batted Dunniway pass set up 4th down. The Hornets lined up to go for it and Dunniway took a 14-yard sack to turn it over on downs.

Northern Colorado took over in Hornet territory early. Graduate student running back Elijah Dotson took a run for 8 yards on second down, setting up a third and short. Graduate student quarterback Dylan McCaffrey couldn’t complete a shovel pass on third down and the ensuing pass was dropped. The Bears turned it over on downs.

“[We] didn’t play very well the first two times we got the ball,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said. “We went for it on fourth down, gave [Northern Colorado] a really short field, our defense was unbelievable.”

Not often do you see both teams turnover on downs, less often to open the game. The Hornets took over at their own 33-yard-line. Dunniway found junior running back Marcus Fulcher for a first down. Getting across midfield, Dunniway looked for two consecutive deep balls, including one on fourth down and couldn’t connect. A third straight turnover on down to start the game.

The Bears took over at their own 33-yard-line, after two plays of no gain. McCaffrey rolled out and found his man, but he was across the line of scrimmage, and called for an illegal forward pass. That made it fourth down, which forced the Bears to punt. 

Halfway through the first quarter, the two teams were slow to start. The Hornets took over at their own 27-yard-line. After sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo had some tough runs, Dunniway looked deep again on second, third, and fourth down, to no avail. Another turnover on downs.

The Bears started this drive inside their own 20-yard-line. A false start set up second-and-15, which they could not overcome. 

A bad roll for Northern Colorado, set the Hornets up in excellent field position. Inside Bear territory the Hornets found themselves in another fourth down situation. This time Dunniway connected with senior tight end Marshel Martin, for a first down. Fulcher got the ball from the 9-yard-line, and punched it in.

Sac State: 7, Northern Colorado: 0

The Bears lost 2 yards on first down, no gain on second. McCaffery loaded up a shot deep, but redshirt sophomore Ty Arrington couldn’t hang on to the pass. 

Sac State finally got the big play they were looking for on the next drive. Dunniway found junior wideout Parker Clayton for a 30-yard pick up. The Hornets overcame a second-and-15 to move the ball into the red zone. A leaping O’Hara polished off the drive with his eighth rushing touchdown of the season.

Sac State: 14, Northern Colorado: 0

The Bears got themselves into a third and manageable on their next drive, but senior defensive lineman Ariel Ngata blew up a Dotson run to force a punt.

Starting deep in their own territory the Hornets went to their dink-and-dunk offense which moved them across midfield. Sac State kept it on the ground getting to the Bear 4-yard-line. The Hornets tried a trick play with Fulcher where he flipped the field, and leaped into the end zone.

Sac State: 21, Northern Colorado: 0

With time winding down, the Bears needed to move the ball. However they only were able to muster up 5 yards, and were forced to punt. 

The Hornets went on a slow and methodical drive, which ended with a senior Kyle Sentkowski field goal from 45-yards out to end the half.

Sac State: 24, Northern Colorado: 0

The Bears did not have a first down in the first half. They opened the second half with another three-and-out. 

I’m the best player on the field and I don’t want anyone else to touch me, that’s my mindset everytime I step on the field.

— Marshel Martin

The Hornets started their drive at their own 26-yard-line. Dunniway found Clayton on a screen to move Sac State across midfield. On the ensuing play Dunniway connected with Martin who broke tackles all the way to the endzone for the 45-yard touchdown. Martin led the Hornets with 6 catches, 103 yards and the score.

“I’m the best player on the field and I don’t want anyone else to touch me,” Martin said, describing his mindset after the catch. “That’s my mindset everytime I step on the field.”

Sac State: 31, Northern Colorado: 0

Northern Colorado finally got the ball moving, picking up their first three first downs this drive. However when McCaffrey was pressured, he rolled out, to have his pass intercepted. Sophomore safety Cameron Broussard had the interception, the first of his career.

“It was pretty special,” Broussard said. “Each and every game I gotta go out there and give it my best, I know that. It was a once in a lifetime experience.”

On the ensuing play O’Hara threw a screen to sophomore receiver Chris Miller, who fumbled the ball. The Bears fell on it, taking over inside the red zone. 

Northern Colorado was able to move the ball on fourth down, to set up a 2-yard dive into the end zone from Dotson.

Sac State: 31, Northern Colorado: 7

The Bears attempted to sneak an onside kick, but the Hornets fell on it giving them great field position. Moving the ball to the Bears’ 30-yard-line, Skattebo took back to back carries of 10 and 20 yards, respectively, and scored. Skattebo ended with 18 carries for 124 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Sac State: 38, Northern Colorado: 7

After a touchback, the Bears went back to Dotson who gained 8 yards on first down. On second down, Dotson carried the ball for a first down, but fumbled. Junior safety Kylen Ross had the recovery.

From inside Bear territory, Skattebo moved the chains quickly Dunniway connected with Clayton on back to back screens to punch it in. Dunniway finished 20-28 for 258 yards and two touchdowns.

Sac State: 45, Northern Colorado: 7

McCaffrey couldn’t connect with his wideouts on first and second down. A shovel pass to his tight end wasn’t enough on third down.

Sac State put the backups in to begin this drive. Sophomore quarterback Kaiden Bennett came in and ran all over the place. Holding penalties and illegal low blocks set the Hornets back to a first-and-23. Sac State wasn’t able to overcome it and settled for a 41-yard field goal.

Sac State: 48, Northern Colorado: 7

The Bears were able to move the ball across midfield, but a series of large penalties backed the Bears into a third-and-40. There are no real play calls for third-and-40, and so a give up call made the Bears punt.

The Hornets took over with Bennett and sophomore running back Elijah Gable leading the charge. The drive stalled at midfield, and the Hornets punted. 

Freshman quarterback Dorian Hale entered and worked his way down the field with fellow freshman running back Micheal Johnson. The duo moved the ball on the ground inside the red zone. Hale punched it in for the final score of the game.

Sac State: 55, Northern Colorado: 7

[Sac State football has] done some good things,” Taylor said. “We’ve had little runs where we are pretty good, but no our best football is still ahead of us.”

Sac State is back on the road next week, at Eastern Washington. That game will kickoff at 4 p.m PST, and will be streamed on ESPN+.

Notable Happenings:

With this victory, the Hornets are 5-0 for the second time in program history. The 1991 team went 6-0 and this team has the opportunity to match that next week.

Skattebo’s 100-yard plus performance was his third 100-yard performance this year. Skattebo is averaging 8.0 yards a carry on the season. 

O’Hara’s touchdown tonight puts him one away from his number of touchdowns last season. O’Hara is tied for the third most rushing touchdowns in the nation.