‘Job’s not finished’: Sac State football holds off Aggies in 68th Causeway Classic victory

Hornets win Big Sky Conference and playoff automatic qualifier


James Fife

Sac State football and fans holding up the Big Sky Conference trophy in celebration of the Hornets clinching a share of the title after a 27-21 win against UC Davis Saturday, Nov.19, 2022, at Hornet Field. The Hornets also clinched home-field advantage throughout the 2202 FCS playoffs with the defeat of the Aggies.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

The Sacramento State Hornets hosted the 68th Causeway Classic to a record crowd at Hornet Stadium Saturday, holding off the UC Davis Aggies 27-21.

“We knew going in it was going to be a tough game,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said. “[UC Davis] is really well coached, very poised, playing with a lot of swagger; those teams are always dangerous.”

Sac State started the game hot on offense. On just the third play of the game, senior quarterback Jake Dunniway found junior wide receiver Parker Clayton for a 40-yard reception. 

After some goal-line struggles, junior running back Marcus Fulcher found an edge and the end zone on fourth down off a pitch pass by senior quarterback Asher O’Hara. 


Sac State: 7, UC Davis: 0

Not to be outdone, the Aggies answered right back with some haymakers of their own.

A 29-yard opening reception by junior wideout Justin Poerio got UC Davis rolling.

Despite some of the early passing success, two more first downs were all the Aggies could muster, as they settled for a 37-yard field goal.


Sac State: 7, UC Davis: 3

Hornet redshirt freshman running back Elijah Tau-Tolliver returned the kickoff 43 yards, giving Sac State excellent opening field position. Dunniway kept up his success, finding junior tight end Marshel Martin for 27 yards. 

Three straight rushes ended the Sac State drive, settling for a 23-yard field goal from senior kicker Kyle Sentkowski.


Sac State: 10, UC Davis: 3

To close the first quarter and open the second, both teams traded punts. After a short punt from UC Davis gave Sac State the ball at the 50-yard line, the Hornets took advantage of the field positioning.

O’Hara first found Fulcher for a 27-yard pickup. On the ensuing play, O’Hara called his own number and scored from 19 yards out.

Sac State: 17, UC Davis: 3

After a slow start, the Aggies offense woke up late in the second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Miles Hastings found sophomore wide receiver C.J. Hutton for 14 yards. 

Then, senior running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. got to work, pushing the Aggies down the field. 

Gilliam closed the drive with a 1-yard score with less than a minute left in the quarter to close out the first half.


Sac State: 17, UC Davis: 10

To open the second half, both teams punted on their opening possession.

UC Davis’ second drive opened with a 44-yard screen to sophomore running back Lan Larison. The Aggies had to settle for another field goal after the drive stalled. 


Sac State: 17, UC Davis: 13

Looking to jumpstart the Hornet offense, Dunniway looked deep to senior wideout Pierre Williams and was intercepted by UC Davis redshirt freshman cornerback Rex Connors.

With the ball back, the Aggies looked to capitalize on the opportunity.

After a first down, Hastings looked over the middle and was intercepted by junior cornerback Dillion Juniel who returned it to the UC Davis 20-yard line.

“Our team is very resilient,” Dunniway said. “We know there are going to be ups and downs in every game… We can control what we can control. We are just happy to get wins when we are in those close games.”

Sac State picked up a first down in the red zone, but UC Davis stepped up to force a 29-yard attempt from Sentkowski, which he missed as the kicked ball hit the left cross bar.

Neither team could gain the advantage as they continued to trade punts into the fourth quarter. 

“It’s a ruthless thing,” senior linebacker Armon Bailey said about his mindset. “Trying to get after the ball, creating energy, just enjoying the game and staying in the moment.”

The Hornets started the fourth quarter with the ball and drove it out to midfield when a delay of game penalty set up a fourth-and-11.

Freshman punter Cal McGough took the snap to punt and ran ahead for a 20-yard first down.

“It was not a planned play; I’ll say that.” Taylor said of the fake punt. “But [McGough] does have the ability to check. I don’t know if he did or just saw space. I was mad about the [prior] series, next thing I know, my Australian punter is running at me.”

With the crowd on their feet, the Hornets pounded the rock with sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo.

O’Hara capped off the drive with a flip landing in the end zone on his 19th touchdown of the season.

“[O’Hara] has a knack for getting into the end zone,” Taylor said. “He scores on runs that are not blocked up that well… I’ve learned not to question the jumps and all the stuff.”



Sac State: 24, UC Davis: 13

UC Davis played it conservatively, running the ball three times on their next drive.

Those three rushes didn’t get them enough for a first down, so the Aggies punted.

Sac State responded with a punt of their own after killing around three minutes of the clock.

On the next play from scrimmage, Hastings found sophomore tight end Josh Gale — who tip-toed his way up the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown.

The Aggies went for the 2-point conversion and completed it.


Sac State: 24, UC Davis: 21

In an attempt to kill the clock, the Hornets turned to O’Hara and Skattebo. They worked the ball down the field, killing 3 minutes.

On third-and-7, Dunniway dropped back in shotgun and found Martin across the middle for first down, putting Sac State inside the Aggie 40 yard line.




On fourth-and-1 after the drive stalled, Taylor opted to kick a 44-yard field goal with 43 seconds left instead of going for it.

Sentkowski stayed true, extending the Sac State lead to 6, forcing UC Davis to score a touchdown to win the game

“I had a number of people that said we should go for it,” Taylor said. “I have so much confidence in Kyle [Sentkowski] that if he wasn’t so good I probably would have gone for it.”


Sac State: 27, UC Davis: 21

On the kickoff the Aggies attempted a lateral but only lost 11 seconds and had to start at their own 8-yard line. 

Hastings found Hutton two times for over 40 yards, moving the Aggies into Hornet territory.

With 8 seconds left and no timeouts, they had to get out of bounds.

Hastings connected with sophomore quarterback Trent Tompkins for 8 yards, however, the throw was low and Tompkins couldn’t get out of bounds.

As the fans stormed the field for the second time this season, the Hornets raised the Big Sky Conference title and the Causeway Classic trophy capping off their first undefeated season in school history.

“Obviously, we start with the Big Sky,” Dunniway said. “ Last two years, we’ve had success winning our conference, but we know there is another hurdle we want to get over.”

After two consecutive seasons of first round playoff exits, Sac State said they are no longer satisfied with just winning their conference. 

“We need to get a playoff win and good deep in the playoffs,” Dunniway said. “We have a team to win the national championship, and that is our goal.”

The Hornets playoff seed will be announced tomorrow, Sunday, with the FCS Selection show at 9:30 a.m. You can watch it from home on ESPNU. Stay tuned to Jack Freeman’s Twitter for updates regarding the Hornets’ seed and playoff opponent.