RECAP: Sac State advances to 4-0 for third time in program history

Hornets beat Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo 49-21 on the road


Credit Kayla Stuart from Mustang News

The Sac State offensive line squared up against Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Saturday, Oct.1, 2022, at Alex G. Spanos Stadium The Hornets got out to their second 4-0 start in school history with a commanding 49-21 win over the Mustangs Saturday.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

Sacramento State football went on the road to open Big Sky Conference play against Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo this Saturday Oct. 1, taking home a victory 49-21.

This game opened with Cal Poly on offense. Redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Brasch started the game with two early incompletions and on fourth-and-7 the Hornets looked like they had a three-and-out. However, the Mustangs faked the punt, converted and kept the opening drive alive.

After Cal Poly crossed midfield, a quick run followed by two incompletions forced a fourth down. The Mustangs didn’t fake this punt and gave the Hornets the ball at their own 24-yard-line.

Senior quarterback Asher O’Hara started the game but after two lackluster runs the Hornets found themselves in a third down. Senior quarterback Jake Dunniway came in but couldn’t connect with sophomore wideout Jared Gipson, and the Hornets punted.

Cal Poly picked up 9 yards on their first two downs, but Sac State brought pressure and forced Brasch to throw it away on 3rd down.

Sac State started at their own 42-yard-line and methodically moved the ball up the field. However, Dunniway then found sophomore wideout Chris Miller wide open down the field for a 36-yard play. One defensive holding penalty later, junior running back Marcus Fulcher punched it in from two yards out.

Sac State: 7, Cal Poly: 0

“I think we came out pretty fast on both offense and defense,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said. “Always good to play with a lead, proud our guys sustained it.” 

Once the Mustangs took over they had no trouble moving the ball down the field. Brasch found his favorite target in Fresno State graduate transfer Chris Coleman for 27 yards. Cal Poly worked their way inside the Hornet 30-yard line with some nifty use of the wildcat formation. 

Brasch found redshirt sophomore receiver Zedakiah Centers for 6 yards on third-and-9. The Mustangs went for it on fourth down, but senior cornerback Prince Washington broke up the pass. 

Sac State took over at their own 21-yard line. Sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo picked up 9 yards on first down which drew a facemask penalty. Then Fulcher took a screen pass for 22 yards on the ensuing play.

O’Hara found senior wideout Pierre Williams for 17 yards, which set the Hornets up inside the red zone. O’Hara then took the ball himself on two straight plays, setting up a 4-yard Skattebo touchdown rush.

Sac State: 14, Cal Poly: 0

The Coleman and Brasch connection continued on the next drive, picking up 15 yards on a crucial third down. Cal Poly kept it in the air their next few plays, drawing a defensive pass interference call on senior nickelback Marte Mapu.

Cal Poly went back to the wildcat formation but it didn’t do much, setting up a fourth-and-3, which the Mustangs converted. Reigning Big Sky Conference co-defensive player of the week senior linebacker Armon Bailey made his presence felt on the ensuing first down, sacking Brasch for a loss of 10 yards.

This was a hole the Mustangs could not dig themselves out of, and despite going for it on fourth down they turned the ball over on downs.

The Hornets took over as Dunniway connected with Gipson for a gain of 16. After a quick penalty set the Hornets back, Williams was left wide open which kept the sticks moving. Dunniway soon took a keeper for a 17-yard rush and put the Hornets in the red zone at the Mustangs’ 16-yard line.

Dunniway then connected with Skattebo on a swing pass, who made two men miss, then turned into a bulldozer by the goalline and scored.

Sac State: 21, Cal Poly: 0

The Mustangs quickly moved the ball through the air on this drive. Brasch found Coleman for another 17-yard gain, but Coleman dropped the pass on the next play. A negative screen play set up another fourth-and-9 and while a valiant effort, Centers was marked short. Cal Poly turned it over on downs again.

“Just taking it one play at a time,” Bailey said, describing the Hornets defensive mentality. “We wanted to attack them each and every way we could.”

O’Hara found Gipson quickly, but this drive would stall and the Hornets let the clock wind. Cal Poly got the ball, but let time expire.

Sac State got the ball after halftime and opened with a delay of game penalty. Skattebo quickly mitigated with an 18-yard rush. Dunniway went to junior tight end Marhsel Martin for two consecutive 20-yard catches. Down in the red zone, O’Hara checked in and leaped over the goalline on fourth-and-goal.

That’s O’Hara’s seventh rushing touchdown of the year, just two shy of his mark from last season.

Sac State: 28, Cal Poly: 0

A quick Cal Poly three-and-out set Sac State back up at their own 35-yard line. Finding themselves in a third and long, Dunniway evaded pressure but threw it right to freshman cornerback Donovan Saunders, who intercepted the pass.

Cal Poly needed to ride this wave of momentum, and they did. The Mustangs moved the ball in chunks of 10 yards. After an offsides call on Bailey, redshirt junior running back Shakobe Harper scored from 4 yards out.

Sac State: 28, Cal Poly: 7

The Hornets had three holding penalties this drive that negated huge plays by Fulcher and freshman running back Elijah Tau-Tolliver. Fulcher carried the Hornets out to around midfield where O’Hara would take a shot deep to Gipson, who had a step and scored on the 40-yard touchdown completion.

“[Receivers] did a great job getting open,” O’Hara said. “[Offensive] line held up; we just had some big mistakes that made plays come back, we have to get rid of those.”

Sac State: 35, Cal Poly: 7

Cal Poly started their drive on their own 20-yard line. A flow of 9-yard gains and 1-yard gains kept the chains moving. From 26 yards out, Brasch found freshman wideout Logan Booher and they connected for a touchdown.

Sac State: 35, Cal Poly: 14

Sac State took over deep in their own territory at their 9-yard line, but Dunniway connected with Martin twice for 40 yards. Then three straight penalties set the Hornets back to a first-and-25, which turned into a third-and-15. Dunniway loaded up a shot to the end zone and connected with Williams for a 28-yard score.

“We are just running our stuff,” Taylor said. “Sometimes you’re just taking what they give you, but we’ve got great players and they usually tend to make great plays.”

Sac State: 42, Cal Poly: 14

The Mustangs opened their next drive with three runs with Harper, moving them around midfield. Brasch stepped up and ran for 9 yards on a play where sophomore Cameron Brossuard of Sac State was called for a targeting penalty.

This means Brossuard will have to miss the first half of next week’s game against Northern Colorado.

Cal Poly took advantage as Brasch connected with Coleman deep for a 32-yard gain, which set up sophomore Adam Garwood for an easy walk-in score from 2 yards out.

Sac State: 42, Cal Poly: 21

Cal Poly tried an onside kick, but Sac State recovered at Cal Poly’s 35-yard line. Skattebo got a carry-on first down, which he took to the end zone. For his third touchdown of the day. Along with the three scores, Skattebo totaled ten carries for 84 yards.

Sac State: 49, Cal Poly: 21

Backup redshirt sophomore quarterback Kaiden Bennet came into the game for Sac State. Bennet’s lone pass was intercepted by redshirt sophomore linebacker Connor Heffler.

Cal Poly took the opportunity to drive into the red zone. That’s when sophomore linebacker Dylan Jorge jumped a pass from Brasch for the game-sealing interception.

Sac State finally returns home next week taking on Northern Colorado. That game will kick off Saturday at 6 p.m PST and be streamed on ESPN+.

“I’m hoping to see the Hornets,” O’Hara said regarding Sac State’s home fans in next week’s matchup against Northern Colorado. “Everyone coming through, and packing the stands. I don’t want to see any open seats.”


Dunniway moved himself up in several record categories. He moved to 10th overall in total completions for a Sac State quarterback. Also moving up three spots in total career passing yards, to eighth overall. Lastly, he moved to 13th overall in total career passing attempts. Dunniway finished with 246 yards, two touchdowns with one interception.

With his touchdown reception Williams broke the tie between himself and Martin, moving him into a tie with Mike Carter for fourth most touchdown receptions of all time. Williams totaled five grabs for 79 yards along with the touchdown.

Martin also moved up in the record books. His 90 receiving yards moved him to 13th overall for most career receiving yards. He also tied former Sac State running back Elijah Dotson and former Hornet wideout Mike Carter at 110 career receptions, 11th overall.

Sacramento State advances to 18-0 when scoring first under Taylor. The Hornets are also undefeated on the road against FCS opponents.

Jorge’s interception was the first of his career, the young sophomore had just one lone tackle last season. 

Sacramento State has yet to trail in a game this season. They have led every game through four weeks wire to wire. 

The last time Sac State was 4-0 was in 1982 when they were still a Division 2 program.