RECAP: Sac State football’s dream season ends in the FCS Quarterfinals

Cardinals defeat Hornets 66-63 in highest-scoring FCS playoff game ever


James Fife

(L-R) Sophomore wideouts Devin Gandy and Jared Gipson sit solemnly reflecting on the final scoreboard, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. After an undefeated regular season, Sac State’s season ended 66-63 to Incarnate Word in the FCS Quarterfinal.

Jack Freeman, Football Beat Writer

The Sacramento State Hornets lost their first game of the season against Incarnate Word, 66-63 in the FCS quarterfinals, ending their season at 12-1.

“12-1, that’s awesome,” sophomore Cameron Skattebo said. “I couldn’t ask for any better… fell short tonight, it’s not easy losing a football game with 66 points on the board.”

The Cardinals started with the ball but found nothing, punting the ball away after just four plays. 

Sac State started on offense, moving the ball past midfield with ease. However, senior quarterback Jake Dunniway’s turnover demons got him again, lofting a pass into the hands of Incarnate Word’s senior defensive back Brandon Richard.

The Hornet defense stepped up on the next drive, forcing a Cardinal three-and-out.

Getting the ball back at their 19-yard line, the Hornets made quick work carving up the Incarnate Word defense. Polishing the drive off with a one-yard touchdown rush from sophomore running back Cameron Skattebo.


Sac State: 7, UIW: 0

Incarnate Word quickly found themselves in another long third down, but graduate transfer quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. converted with a 29-yard pass to graduate transfer wideout, Jaelin Campbell. Scott Jr. then connected with his graduate transfer running back Marcus Cooper for a 20-yard touchdown connection.


Sac State: 7, UIW: 7

Sac State benefited from two defensive pass interference calls and a kickoff out-of-bounds, putting the ball at the Incarnate Word 35-yard line. From there, junior running back Marcus Fulcher found a hole and raced his way into the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown.


Sac State: 14, UIW: 7

Much like their first scoring drive, the Cardinals found themselves in a third down and a mile. While it took all four downs — they converted as Scott punched the ball in from a yard out.


Sac State: 14, UIW: 14

Senior quarterback Asher O’Hara and Skattebo led the Hornets to the red zone. Dunniway found a wide-open Fulcher, who dropped a walk-in touchdown on third down. The drop forced a 40-yard attempt for senior kicker Kyle Sentkowski, who nailed the kick.


Sac State: 17, UIW: 14

Incarnate Word’s offense sputtered again, producing their third three-and-out of the game. 

Sac State got the ball back, but on a third down and long, trying for some heroics, Dunniway sailed a pass intercepted by junior cornerback Elliot Davidson. Dunniway’s sixth interception in three games.

The Cardinals got a pass interference call of their own, setting up a 2-yard touchdown connection from Scott Jr. to graduate student-athlete Rogers McCuller.


Sac State: 17, UIW: 21

Incarnate Word’s defense got back to wreaking havoc, forcing a fumble in the backfield from O’Hara. With time expiring in the half, Scott bullied his way into the end zone from 4 yards out.


Sac State: 17, UIW: 28

To open the second half, the Hornets started on offense needing a spark. The O’Hara and Skattebo duo returned, shredding the Cardinal defense like swiss cheese. Skattebo ended the drive by fighting into the end zone from 2 yards out. 


Sac State: 24, UIW: 28

Scott Jr. and Cooper got right back to work, combining 61 rushing yards on just two plays. On third down, Scott Jr.’s pass was broken up by Sac State sophomore cornerback Patrick Dean. The breakup forced a 24-yard field goal from senior kicker Carson Mohr, which he converted.


Sac State: 24, UIW: 31

Dunniway found Skattebo on a double-reverse pass to move the Hornets into Cardinal territory. O’Hara found senior wideout Pierre Williams, who dove into the end zone for a game-tying 16-yard touchdown.


Sac State: 31, UIW: 31

Although the Hornets stopped the Cardinals early in this drive, Scott Jr. ended that quickly with a 47-yard touchdown bomb to graduate student wideout Darion Chafin.

“He is unbelievable,” Taylor said of Scott Jr. “He was a fun guy to watch, electric. He’s a great player.”


Sac State: 31, UIW: 38

Sac State worked the ball down the field but couldn’t find the end zone from eight yards out. Settling for a 26-yard attempt from Sentkowski, which he made.


Sac State: 34, UIW: 38

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Scott Jr. kept the ball and ran 64 yards for a touchdown to extend the Cardinal lead back to 11 points.

“It was nothing we hadn’t seen before,” junior defensive lineman Jett Stanley said. “A lot of four defensive linemen covering six gaps, and their quarterback is fast.”


Sac State: 34, UIW: 45

The Hornets’ passing attack returned this drive, with Dunniway connecting with Martin for a crucial third-and-long conversion. Skattebo got tricky and got the ball, throwing it to Martin in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown. 

“One of my favorite moments is [Skattebo] throwing the touchdown pass and turning around to me to say, ‘Did you see that?’” Taylor said. “He hasn’t really thrown it that well in practice, that was his best throw by far.”


Sac State: 41, UIW: 45 

Continuing their trickeration, the Hornets went with a surprise onside kick and got the ball back at their own 46-yard line. O’Hara found Skattebo, who broke tackles for a 31-yard gain. On third down, Dunniway found Martin underneath and fought his way into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.

“It was one of those games where you knew we had to keep scoring,” Taylor said. “We had a couple of missed opportunities and some calls I wish I had back.”


Sac State: 48, UIW: 45

The Cardinals’ offense was undeterred, as Cooper busted a run on the third play of the drive that went 67 yards for another Incarnate Word score.


Sac State: 48, UIW: 52

While the next drive started nicely for Sac State, O’Hara fumbled for the second time in the game. Incarnate Word recovered and returned it to the house for a 55-yard touchdown return.

“Our defense came up big when we needed them,” Incarnate Word head coach G.J. Kinne said. “That’s all you can ask for.”


Sac State: 48, UIW: 59

Back on offense, the scoring continued as Dunniway threw a ball up to Williams, who caught it over a defender while tight roping the sideline for a 10-yard touchdown reception. The Hornets went for two, and Fulcher punched it in.

“[Dunniway] had a lower extremity injury and just kept coming back,” Taylor said. “He came in and made some big plays.”


Sac State: 56, UIW: 59

Wanting to keep the ball, the Hornets went onside kick again and recovered. Working the ball down the field, killing three minutes of the clock. With a minute and 40 seconds, Martin took a jet sweep into the end zone.


Sac State: 63, UIW: 59

With 40 seconds left, the Cardinals needed to score. Scott Jr. picked apart the Hornet defense, ultimately finding senior wideout Taylor Grimes in the end zone. 

“We knew it was going to be a four-quarter game,” Kinne said. “We felt like if we got the ball back with enough time, [Scott Jr.] would go make a play, and he did.”


Sac State: 63, UIW: 66

Dunniway got the ball rolling past midfield, but with two timeouts, the Hornets took neither, letting the clock tick down to five seconds. 

“I was hoping to not let them reorganize,” Taylor said. “Try to get up and get the ball thrown. Turned out it didn’t work out, but that was the plan to go tempo.”

An incomplete pass to Williams set the clock to one second. Dunniway chucked a hail mary, which fell into the end zone grass, ending the Hornet season.

“It hurts when you don’t win the last game, it does,” Taylor said. “That doesn’t change how I feel about those guys, unbelievable effort.”

After the game, Sac State players could only mention the love they share for each other. 

“I don’t think I dislike a single guy on the team,” Skattebo said. “Everybody loves each other. We had great memories in that locker room and it’s going to continue. Football is a magical sport.”