RECAP: Sac State football out duels Eastern Washington, moves to 6-0

Hornets topple Eagles 52-28, 6-0 for second time; a historic feat


Bridget Mayfield, EWU Athletics

Cameron Skattebo attempts to leap over an Eastern Washington defender on Roos Field, Saturday Oct. 15, 2022. Skattebo put up a career high 201 rushing yards against the Eagles helping the Hornets to a 6-0 record.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

Sacramento State traveled to Cheney, Washington to take on the Eastern Washington Eagles this Saturday where they ran their way to a 52-28 victory, punching a ticket to the Hornets second 6-0 start in program history.

In the first half, the game was truly a tale of two quarters. Sac State quickly put up 21 points in the first quarter, but the Eagles struck back— attacking deep to score 21 points unanswered to tie it up.

Sac State rallied late in the second quarter to nab some points, giving themselves a 14 point cushion going into the half. 

From there, the Hornet defense regained some of its prowess from last week. The defense only allowed one more score the rest of the game. Meanwhile the offense held up their end of the bargain.

Sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo had a day to remember— totaling over 200 yards on the ground and 41 more through the air. Skattebo’s performance propelled the offense to overcome their three turnovers and still put up over 50 points, allowing them to pick up a win.

“[Skattebo] is a war horse,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said. “He’s a kid who brings everything he has got to every rep.” 

Eastern Washington opened the game with the ball with redshirt senior quarterback Gunner Talkington under center. The Sac State defense picked up where they left off last week and forced a three and out.

On the Hornets’ opening drive, they went with their ground attack, only throwing once. Skattebo and senior quarterback Asher O’Hara teamed up to run the ball down to the 1-yard line. O’Hara refrained from a leap and walked into the end zone.

Sac State: 7, EWU: 0

The Eagles got the ball back and picked up their initial first down. The drive didn’t last long as Talkington fired a pass over the middle that was intercepted by junior linebacker Brock Mather. Mather promptly picked up the phone for a house call, scoring a touchdown.

“It was kind of like I blacked out, honestly,” Mather said. “As soon as I caught it I was just telling myself in my head ‘There’s nothing anyone can do to stop me from getting in the end zone.’”

Sac State: 14, EWU: 0

Eastern Washington finally got a solid drive on this possession with Talkington; sophomore running back Justice Jackson leading the way offensively, moving the ball down the field efficiently. 

While in Sac State territory, the Eagles soon faced a fourth down and 1. They went wildcat formation with redshirt freshman running back Tuna Altahir who was stopped for no gain. 

Sac State took over at their own 35-yard line. On the second play of this drive senior quarterback Jake Dunniway wanted it all down the field, but the pass was ripped away from sophomore receiver Jared Gipson by Eastern Washington redshirt sophomore cornerback Marlon Jones, Jr. 

Talkington found his favorite target of the day sophomore receiver Efton Chism III for 50 yards. The drive stalled and the Eagles would attempt a field goal. 

However, Sac State’s special teams had other plans, blocking the kick to earn a massive stop.

Starting inside Eagles’ territory Dunniway and crew wasted no time. Dunniway connected with Gipson on a third-and-14 to move the chains. On the ensuing play Dunniway swung it out to Skattebo who hurdled a defender and bowled his way into the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown.

Sac State: 21, EWU: 0

Eastern Washington already down three scores needed to respond. Talkington took it to heart. 

He connected with sophomore receiver Nolan Ulm for a gain of 21, then found redshirt sophomore receiver Jakobie James for 31. These plays ultimately set up a one-yard reception for Chism, III.

Sac State: 21, EWU 7

On the second play of the Sac State drive, Skattebo found a hole in the opposing team’s defense but — while running — had the ball punched out from behind him. Eagles’ redshirt junior cornerback Demetruis Crosby Jr. recovered.

It wasn’t long after Talkington connected with Chism, III for 26 yards and the second Eastern Washington score; both Chism, III and Talkington’s second touchdown of the day. The Eagles missed the extra point.

Sac State: 21, EWU: 13

Needing a response, the Hornets came back onto the field, but didn’t find anything. A quick three plays and the Eagles had the ball back.

Talkington continued looking downfield; this time finding redshirt junior receiver Freddie Roberson for 41 yards on the first play of the drive. Then the Eagles got tricky with the ball and ran a fake double-reverse that confused the Sac State defense allowing Justice to score untouched. Eastern Washington went for a two point conversion and scored it to tie the game at 21.

Sac State: 21, EWU: 21

With all the momentum against them, Sac State had to respond with some kind of score. Dunniway came in and found Williams down the field. The duo of Skattebo and O’Hara marched the Hornets down the field. O’Hara leaped into the end zone to finish off the drive. 

“Our guys didn’t blink,” Taylor said. “They just kept playing their game. We know it would take four quarters. Just proud of our guys to come out and play.”

Sac State: 28, EWU: 21

To open this drive, Eastern Washington went with a screen pass which worked to perfection, allowing Roberson to scurry 72 yards to the house. A blocker made contact a little early, which brought out a penalty flag. The pass interference call nullified the score and set the Eagles back to a second-and-23. Two conservative calls later and the Eagles punted.

With time winding down in the half, the Hornets had a big opportunity to expand their lead. O’Hara and Skattebo continued their ground-game dominance, slowly moving the ball into the red zone and wasting the clock. On third-and-11, Dunniway checked in and found senior tight end Marshel Martin, who fought his way into the endzone.

“[Offensive line] is amazing,” Skattebo said. “They practice hard, they play hard, they’re just dogs. All five of them, there’s really nobody else I’d rather run behind.”

Sac State: 35, EWU: 21

The Hornets began the second half with the ball. Skattebo took the ball ahead, moving it inside the red zone, with ease. On third-and-11, Dunniway took a shot to the end zone but overthrew his man, intercepted by Eastern Washington’s redshirt freshman cornerback Kentrell Williams Jr.

The Eagles started with an easy first down on their next drive. However, the Hornet defense held firm and set up a fourth-and-4. The Eagle came out and punt formation, but tried a fake punt. The pass was overthrown and the Hornets took over at the Eagles’ 38-yard line.

One tough Skattebo run later, the Hornets were already knocking on the door of the end zone. O’Hara took a run right and scored, completing the hat trick and scoring his 11th rushing touchdown of the season.

Sac State: 42, EWU: 21

Roberson got the Eagles started by breaking tackles en route to a 31-yard play on first down. The Eagles continued driving, converting on a fourth down. That set up Talkington to find Roberson, who continued to slip tackles and score.

Sac State: 42, EWU: 28

The Hornets’ ensuing drive started slow. On third down and long, Dunniway connected with sophomore receiver Chris Miller for 16 yards. Then, it was back to the O’Hara and Skattebo show. The drive stalled at the Eagles 18-yard line, where senior kicker Kyle Sentkowski made his first field goal of the night from 36 yards out.

Sac State: 45, EWU: 28

Eastern Washington just wouldn’t go away. They kept converting on third downs, moving the ball into Hornet territory. Talkington stepped up and found James for a 26-yard reception, setting up a goal to go situation for the Eagles. The Eagles couldn’t score on their first three plays, and redshirt junior kicker Seth Harrison missed his 21-yard field goal attempt.

The Hornets went into clock killing mode on this drive, attempting to end the game. Freshman running back Elijah Tau-Tolliver and Skattebo helped move the Hornets inside the red zone. It’s there Dunniway found junior receiver Parker Clayton on a screen pass for the 8-yard score.

Sac State: 52, EWU: 28

The Hornets forced a three and out on the Eagles’ next possession. The Hornets ran out the rest of the clock. The Hornets 385 yards on the ground was the third most in school history.

“I’m really proud of them,” Taylor said of his team. “They work really hard, don’t blink, they do whatever it takes.”

The Hornets are back at Hornet Stadium next week hosting Montana. The game will be nationally broadcasted on ESPN2 and kicks off at 8 p.m PST.

Notable Happenings:

Skattebo’s 200 yard rushing performance is the most of his career, shattering his previous record of 153 yards. It is also his fourth rushing performance over 100 yards this season.

O’Hara’s hat trick of three touchdowns puts him at 11 rushing touchdowns on the season. O’Hara only had nine rushing touchdowns last season. This is the most rushing touchdowns in a season of O’Hara’s career.

Senior linebacker Armon Bailey led the Hornet defense in tackles with nine. This is the third time Bailey has led the Sac State defense in tackles this season.