PREVIEW: Sac State football prepares for high scoring affair against Incarnate Word

Hornets face Cardinals in first FCS Quarterfinal appearance in school history


Dominique Williams

Sac State special teams walks off the field after a successful try on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at Hornet Stadium. The Hornets are hosting Incarnate Word in their first ever FCS Quarterfinal appearance on Friday.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

The #2 Sacramento State football continues their national championship chase against #7 Incarnate Word Cardinals this Friday at Hornet Stadium.

After the Hornets snuck out of their second round game 38-31 against the Richmond Spiders, they face a short week. 

“It was a hard fought game, back and forth,” Sac State head coach Troy Taylor said. “But it’s a short turnaround; everything has moved up. Our guys have to rebound really quickly.”

In their second-round FCS matchup, the Cardinals barely escaped 41-38 against the Furman Paladins. They scored in the final two minutes to secure a trip to Sacramento.

Sac State traveled to Portland in week 11 and were forced to play a game on Friday — something they’ve done earlier this season taking that game 45-17.  

“We’ve done it before and the guys responded well,” Taylor said. “We used the same practice structure and schedule, so the experience helps.”

This will be the first time Incarnate Word has faced a short week all season. The loss of a day will surely affect the Cardinals’ recovery after their hard fought second round bout.

Both teams have taken down FBS teams and have multiple wins against ranked opponents, leaving the potential for a matchup that presents two impressive and evenly matched football teams.



Incarnate Word is bringing an incredible offense, averaging 52 points a game. The Cardinals’ attack begins with graduate student quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. who boasts a staggering 62 total touchdowns.

“He’s really dangerous and fun to watch,” Taylor said. “He can do it with his legs: stay in the pocket and throw a great pass — just really talented.”

Scott Jr. single-handley presents a massive problem for the Sac State defense. His ability to run and pass at will opens up the Cardinal offense.

“You have to try to keep him in the pocket, but nobody has been able to do that,” Taylor said. “Then, when he stays in the pocket, he’s still dangerous. [We will] do our usual, try to contain him, and hopefully get a couple turnovers.”

The Sac State defense has struggled defending the deep pass, an area in which the Cardinals excel. Incarnate Word has five different receivers who have caught a pass for 60 yards or more.

“We’ve been studying film,” sophomore safety Cameron Broussard said. “We have to be prepared for a lot of their switch concepts and staying patient when they get out of their breaks.”

Fellow graduate student, wide receiver Darion Chafin, is Scott Jr.’s favorite target, totaling 1,150 yards and 16 touchdowns this season alone. The offensive prowess continues with senior wideout Taylor Grimes, another target over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“We are tuned into their receivers,” Broussard said. “Planning on taking advantage of the passing game, creating turnovers and getting stops.”

While the passing game is fantastic, the running game is no slouch either. Graduate student running back Marcus Cooper has run for just shy of 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

Incarnate Word presents the highest powered offense the Hornets have seen this season. They’ll need senior linebacker Armon Bailey and senior nickelback Marte Mapu to set the tone upfront.

On the back end, junior cornerback Caleb Nelson, senior cornerback Prince Washington and Broussard will have to hold it down to give Sac State a chance.

Although Sac State’s running game faltered last week with just 95 yards on the ground, compared to their season average of 235.8, sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo and junior running back Marcus Fulcher should have a bounce back week. 

“You want to find different ways to win,” Taylor said. “You’re not always going to be able to run it or be as efficient. I hope we get the running game going; they’re a good team.”

The duo of senior quarterback Asher O’Hara and Skattebo should propel the Hornets rushing attack. 

Senior quarterback Jake Dunniway played his best game of the season against Richmond despite throwing three interceptions. Completing around half of his passes for over 300 yards and touchdown.  

“Coach put a lot of trust in us to execute,” Dunniway said. “Whether it’s raining or not, [we] try not to think about it. Just grip it and rip it.”

Expect Dunniway to keep slinging it to his favorite target: the sure-handed junior tight end Marshel Martin. Martin totaled 148 yards on 10 catches last week, including two scores.

“It was nice; he is a freak athlete,” Dunniway said. “Having a guy like that who is a mismatch and can make plays is a huge upside. I have a lot of trust in him.”



Sacramento State: An angry swarm of Hornets. With such a powerful offense, the Hornet defense will have to have their best performance of the season. Containing Scott Jr. is critical to Sac State’s success, don’t let him have a monster game. Take care of him, let the offense do their job.


Incarnate Word: Attack deep, strike quick. The Hornets have struggled covering deep passes; the Cardinals need to attack that weakness and strike fast. They keep attacking deep, eventually they’ll hit and it’ll make things much easier for Incarnate Word.



Jack Freeman, Football beat writer (12-0): One thing I can’t shake is a feeling that this Sac State team is a team of destiny. There are several games they should have lost but found miraculous ways to win. I think that happens again this week in shootout fashion. Dunniway and O’Hara will lead his offense to over 50 points and Mapu will have an interception.

Sac State: 52, Incarnate Word: 49 


Jordan Latimore, Sports Editor (8-4): This is probably the best offensive unit Sac State has seen this year, and I firmly believe the Hornets can keep up with Incarnate Word, though it will be a tall task. The defense will be tested in this one, especially in the secondary. That all being said, I believe this Sac State team will find a way, they always do. I learned to stop picking against this team a while ago (the hard way), and I’m not changing now! 

Sac State: 45, Incarnate Word: 43


Dylan McNeill, Sports Editor (10-2): Sac State played with fire last week against Richmond in the rain, but this week the Hornets will get burned by the Cardinals. The Hornets haven’t faced a quarterback as talented as Scott Jr. and if I’m going to be on the wrong side of history, then I’ll be on the wrong side with a guy that can do this.

Sac State: 37, Incarnate Word: 41 


Keyshawn Davis, Managing Editor (11-0): I read all of the stats from their quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. and I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit worried. I think the Hornets are battle tested and ready for this moment. This will be a high scoring game and the key to the Hornets win will be slowing down their quarterback. I have the Hornets winning in a thriller.


Sac State: 48, Incarnate Word: 45