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The State Hornet

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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Sac State’s upset hangover looms large against Idaho

Hornets take huge loss in the Big Sky conference
Junior+defensive+back+Tommy+McCormick+knocks+a+pass+away+from+senior+tight+end+Marshel+Martin+IV+in+the+end+zone+Saturday+Sept.+23%2C+2023.+Martin+had+only+two+catches+for+14+yards+against+the+Vandals.
Courtesy of Idaho Athletics
Junior defensive back Tommy McCormick knocks a pass away from senior tight end Marshel Martin IV in the end zone Saturday Sept. 23, 2023. Martin had only two catches for 14 yards against the Vandals.

If you want a series of plays that showcase the Sacramento State Hornets’ 36-27 loss to the Idaho Vandals look no further than the final Sac State touchdown and ensuing kickoff.

The Hornets had trailed the whole game and just got a miraculous fumble down 20-27 from Idaho’s junior wide receiver Hayden Hatten to get a chance at getting back into the game.

Then Sac State did just that, a heave from junior quarterback Kaiden Bennett to junior wide receiver Anderson Grover on a third down and forever to set them up in the red zone.

Three plays later, Bennett lofted a great ball to senior running back Marcus Fulcher and just like that, with a hair under five minutes left, the Hornets had a tie ball game.

“I liked that we were able to put some drives together in all phases of the game,” Bennett said.

As soon as they got back into the game they took themselves out of it. On the kickoff, Idaho’s senior wide receiver Jermaine Jackson exploded down the field and was pulled down by his collar by sophomore running back Elijah Tau-Tolliver.

“We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them,” Sac State head coach Andy Thompson said.

Out came the yellow laundry and Idaho had total control of the game once again starting their game-winning drive attempt inside Hornet territory.

Idaho kept the ball on the ground, ran the clock down and kicked a field goal to take a three point lead with one second left.

RELATED: ‘They can have him’: Sac State chops down Stanford in a classic

Sac State only had one timeout during Idaho’s game-winning drive because they were forced to take two earlier in the game to avoid delay of game penalties. Self-inflicted errors that compounded themselves and ultimately handed the game to the Vandals.

While he made highlight plays, Bennett struggled today, going 15 for 29 with 236 yards through the air and -3 yards on the ground. Idaho’s defense was all over the Hornet running game, only allowing 69 yards.

“I felt like we got started a little late,” Bennett said of the Hornets’ offense. “We could have sped the game up… We didn’t have as many possessions as we normally do.”

Similarly, Sac State’s defense made big plays that kept them in the game but struggled to defend the run. The Vandals ran for 178 yards and used their success to generate several explosive passing touchdowns.

“I thought their run game was effective,” Thompson said. “Our ability to play the ball in the air three times was tough. They had some big plays on those. It wasn’t just their run game, it was their ability to make a few more plays than we did.”

The Hornets never led in this contest, falling down 3-0 early and only tying the game up twice. Sac State hasn’t failed to lead in a game since 2021 when they trailed for the entire game against South Dakota State in the FCS playoffs.

“They just had a better game than us,” senior linebacker Armon Bailey said. “Can’t win them all, gotta bounce back next week.”

With this loss the Hornets lose the tiebreaker to Idaho in the Big Sky conference, a major roadblock as they try to win their fourth straight Big Sky championship. They’ll need an Idaho loss to compete for the title.

The Hornets aren’t out of the race yet, both of these teams still have head-to-head matchups against the favorite in the conference, No. 2 Montana State. With how loaded the Big Sky is this season, every game will be a test going forward and next week is no different.

Next week Sac State returns home for a Big Sky matchup against Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks are hot off an upset of No. 13 Montana and will no doubt enter Hornet Stadium with something to prove.

Sac State plays NAU next Saturday at 6 p.m.

“We gotta win,” Bennett said. “We gotta have a great week of practice, leaders gotta step up and go put something together.”

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About the Contributor
Jack Freeman
Jack Freeman, Managing Editor
(he/him)
Jack Freeman joined The State Hornet in spring 2022 as a staff writer and is currently a junior majoring in journalism. He returns as a Managing editor, resident Indoor football aficionado, and Kellen Moore fan.
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