PREVIEW: Sac State football faces short week against Portland State

Hornets continue quest for third straight Big Sky Conference title


Sara Staker, courtesy, The Signpost

Sac State senior quarterback Jake Dunniway drops back and looks for an open receiver against Weber State on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Stewart Stadium. Dunniway rebounded against the Wildcats with no turnovers, a feat he looks to continue against Portland State.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

The Sacramento State Hornets are going north to play the Portland State Vikings in Hillsboro, Oregon, Friday, Nov. 11, at 6 p.m.for, their final road trip of the regular season.

After last week’s 33-30 win over Weber State, the Hornets moved to #2 in both polls, jumping Montana State in the AFCA coaches poll. Sac State’s three straight wins over Top-15 opponents have positioned them as front runners in the FCS. 

RELATED: RECAP: Sac State football’s record stays clean in rainy contest against Weber State

While championship aspirations hang over the head of the Hornets, they stay focused on the week ahead of them. With the game being played on Friday, Sac State lost a day of rest, moving practice to Monday, the usual player off day.

“It’s a big deal,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said about the expedited week. “Our guys have done a good job; the coaches did a good job of consolidating the same amount of work into less days.”

With wins over Eastern Washington and Northern Colorado, the Vikings are on a two-game winning streak going into this week’s game.

“[Portland State] is dangerous,” Taylor said. “They are explosive on offense; they’ve had big plays. Defensively, they create issues because they play a unique defense that is very aggressive.”

The short week should test both teams but it looks to weigh heavier on Sac State. The Hornets have played three close, very physical games and losing a day of rest hurts. 

“We are treating it like a regular week,” Sac State senior cornerback Prince Washington said. “The preparation just has to be that much more detailed, knowing every day we have to bring that intensity because we don’t have any days off now.”

Sac State won’t be getting a reprieve from the cold. It’s forecast to be around 35 degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff time and will only get colder as the game continues. 



Portland State does not thrive off of the run or the pass. They present a balanced attack for the Hornets to stop. 

The Portland State passing and running game is captained by sophomore quarterback Dante Chachere, who leads the Vikings in passing and rushing yards and has 24 total touchdowns on the season. 

In order to stop the Portland State attack, you have to stop Chachere. The Hornets have been effective at containing dual-threat quarterbacks; senior linebacker Armon Bailey will be instrumental in stopping him.

“[Chachere] is really fast and a playmaker,” Taylor said. “He gets outside the pocket, then you have to account for him as a running back and he can throw the ball. Anytime you play those dual threat guys, it’s a scary proposition.”

Chachere’s favorite target this season has been Portland State senior wide receiver Beau Kelly, who has a team-leading 565 yards. 

When it comes to scoring, the Vikings lean on senior wide receiver Mataio Talalemotu. He holds the second longest play for Portland State at 66 yards and caught eight of the 19 passing touchdowns.

The Sac State secondary was tested heavily last week and stepped up for the task. Washington, who led the team in tackles, will be tested again against the Viking passing game.  

“I feel like every week I’m going to get tested,” Washington said. “I expect it. I want them to test me. I want to prove myself.”

Portland State sophomore cornerback Michael Jackson earned Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week after his two-interception performance against Northern Colorado. Jackson will look to keep his turnover streak alive against Sac State’s passing attack.

Portland State’s leading tackler, UTEP transfer senior cornerback Broderick Harrell, will need to step up to stop the hard-running Hornet offense. 

This Sac State offense needs no introduction; the Cerberus of a backfield has dominated opponents. Sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo, junior running back Marcus Fulcher and senior quarterback Asher O’Hara have combined for 2,047 yards this season. That yardage mark is 582 yards more than the entire Portland State roster.

“It starts with the offensive line,” Fulcher said. “Big boys up front doing their job, receivers doing their job; you really need everyone to start running.”

Not to be overlooked is the rebounding passing attack of senior quarterback Jake Dunniway. After four interceptions in two games, he didn’t turn the ball over once against Weber State.

Junior tight end Marshel Martin exploded against Weber State to the tune of two scores and 70 yards. Martin proved last week there are few people who could guard him in the Big Sky. Look for him to have a big game against the Vikings.



Sacramento State: Start fast, step on the gas and finish strong. Portland State has had good first halves in almost every game they’ve played. Sac State can’t fall behind; that is where things have gone wrong for the Hornet squad. Get the lead in this game early and don’t let it go. That is what Sac State needs to do in order to avoid an upset.

Portland State: Fumble, pick, give me that! Getting turnovers is the only shot the Vikings have to pull off an upset. Portland State will struggle on offense, but winning the turnover battle and field position will help alleviate some of those struggles. Flip those turnovers into points and the Vikings put the Hornets on upset alert.



Jack Freeman, Football beat writer (9-0): Portland State played San Jose State close in week 1 and I think they have the talent to give Sac State a scare. Not this year though. This Hornet team is playing their best ball at just the right time. Give me Skattebo and O’Hara to run all over the Vikings.

Sac State: 52, Portland State: 17

Jordan Latimore, Sports Editor (5-4): Portland State is definitely better than their record and has a ton of talent, but Sac State is on a roll and will further prove why they are the best team in the country in what should be a dominant win in Hillsboro Stadium on Friday.

Sac State: 49, Portland State: 7

Dylan McNeill, Sports Editor (7-2): The times Sac State has been challenged on the gridiron this year has been few and far between. The Hornets dynamic offense has been putting games away early and I expect a much more relaxing fourth quarter for Hornet fans Friday night.

Sac State: 41, Portland State: 21

Keyshawn Davis, Managing Editor (7-0):  Portland State started the season on a three game losing streak and now has won four out of their last six games. That being said, their two-game winning streak will end against Sacramento on Friday. Opposing teams haven’t had an answer for the Hornets running game, and I don’t see the Vikings stopping them this game. 


Sac State: 45, Portland State: 10