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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 puts on defensive clinic against Texas A&M-Commerce

Hornets allow 63 passing yards in 34-6 victory
Senior+safety+Eian+Moore+leads+the+Sacramento+State+Hornets+out+of+the+tunnel+for+their+first+home+game+of+the+season+Saturday+Sept.+9%2C+2023.+Sac+State%E2%80%99s+defense+dominated+the+game%2C+shutting+down+Texas+A%26M-Commerce%E2%80%99s+offense+holding+them+to+six+points.
James Fife
Senior safety Eian Moore leads the Sacramento State Hornets out of the tunnel for their first home game of the season Saturday Sept. 9, 2023. Sac State’s defense dominated the game, shutting down Texas A&M-Commerce’s offense holding them to six points.

From the opening snap the Sacramento State Hornets took control of the game with junior quarterback Kaiden Bennett finding sophomore wide receiver Devin Gandy for 33 yards.

Just six plays later Bennett punched it into the endzone for his second rushing touchdown of the year.

Sac State never looked back with the defense forcing three straight three-and-outs against the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions’ offense. Senior defensive back Dillon Juniel was a standout on those drives, with three pass breakups on three targets.

“The effort level was good, the physicality was good,” Sac State head coach Andy Thompson said. “Juniel, man, they tried him every third down. I think he had three pass break ups in a row. We are seeing improvement from juniors and seniors.”

Even when the Lions finally got something going in the middle of the second quarter the Hornets quickly flipped the momentum.

A throw over the middle from Commerce’s junior quarterback Peter Parrish was popped out by Sac State senior linebacker Armon Bailey and ended in the hands of fellow senior linebacker Brock Mather.

“[Bailey] was right there, [he] pops the ball out and it falls right in my hands,” Mather said. “Collectively as a coaching staff and my teammates, they’ve put us in position to make plays.”

The Hornets leaned on the run game offensively, running the ball 45 times with their stable of backs. Bennett and senior running back Marcus Fulcher lead the team on the ground, the two combined for 180 yards.

“When I think of KB, I think of the word explosive,” Thompson said. “Our biggest thing with him is making sure he knows he has a lot of playmakers around him, he’s the point guard… But nah I’m excited for KB, everything he is getting he has earned.”

Bennett’s explosiveness was on full display on his 40-yard touchdown run where he got into the second level of the defense and accelerated like a Lamborghini into the end zone.

A sticking point from Thompson this week in practice was improvement, he felt the Hornets had to be better than they were against Nicholls last week.

RELATED: PREVIEW: Sac State seeks steady home opener against Texas A&M Commerce

“I felt like we did that, we were better from game one to game two,” Thompson said. “I love the demeanor and attitude.”

An area that was much improved was the defensive line, the group had Parrish under pressure all game. The Hornet defense totaled five tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries and one sack.

“As a defense it starts up front and I thought we had a lot of really good pressure,” Thompson said. “We played a lot of guys tonight… at least 60 and those guys got to keep the standard up in front of a great crowd.”

Sac State’s defense only allowed points after a Bennett interception that gave the Lions the ball at the Hornet 14-yard line. The interception would have been a touchdown if not for Fulcher’s effort to run over 60 yards down the field and make a tackle.

“Outstanding, we gotta get KB in some tackling gear,” Thompson said. “That is one of our leaders… I thought it was a tremendous effort. This is a player’s game and to see that effort was outstanding.”

Bennett completed 14 passes against Commerce, seven of which went to senior wide receiver Carlos Hill.

“Today we were trying to hit the perimeter and get the ball to him,” Bennett said. “He knew that and he stepped up.”

The Hornets were still able to amass almost 200 yards passing without senior tight end Marshel Martin IV, who didn’t play because of an injury that kept him out of most of the Nicholls game.

Sac State has a much anticipated matchup next week as they travel to Stanford to take on former Sac State head coach Troy Taylor and his Cardinal. For now, Thompson wants his group to enjoy the win.

“I’m going to enjoy tonight before I start thinking about them,” Thompson said. “I told these guys it’s hard to win football games, it’s a lot easier to lose… To be on the right side of a game, we really try to stay in that moment.”

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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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