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The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Sac State men’s rugby puts together memorable comeback

The Hornets come out with the tie against Santa Cruz after uphill battle
Sophomore+flanker+Kenneth+Kimbrough+runs+down+the+left+sideline+of+the+Sac+State+Intramural+Field+avoiding+defenders+for+the+first+try+of+the+Sac+State+men%E2%80%99s+rugby+club+game+Saturday%2C+Feb.+3%2C+2024.+Kimbrough+finished+with+one+try+along+with+multiple+tackles+throughout+the+first+and+second+half+against+University+of+California%2C+Santa+Cruz.+
Orlando Fuller
Sophomore flanker Kenneth Kimbrough runs down the left sideline of the Sac State Intramural Field avoiding defenders for the first try of the Sac State men’s rugby club game Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. Kimbrough finished with one try along with multiple tackles throughout the first and second half against University of California, Santa Cruz.

The Sacramento State men’s rugby club took on University of California, Santa Cruz in a home league game Saturday at the Sac State Intramural Field, where a second half comeback propelled the Hornets to a 39-39 tie.

Sac State started the game out on brand, physical and fast. Within the first 10-minutes, sophomore flanker Kenneth Kimbrough found himself up the left sideline barreling over defenders for the first try of the game.

“Every game I come in trying my hardest and giving it my all,” Kimbrough said. “If the team can match my energy, every game will be competitive.”

After winning the 2023 D1AA Championship, the Hornets moved to D1A. Moving up a division there is an expected increase in performance from opponents throughout the season. Santa Cruz took no time in striking back, as they pushed down field to score their first try of the game, tying the game.

With the first points put on the board for Santa Cruz, the Banana Slugs managed to capitalize and put together a period of five unanswered tries and one kick for two points.

RELATED: Sac State makes finishing touches for Portland State and Idaho

Going into the second half, the Hornets found themselves down 32-10 and hoping for a match in energy.

“In the first half we weren’t playing together as a team, guys were yelling and screaming at each other about mistakes,” Sac State head coach Steve Seifert said.

Entering the second half, Santa Cruz found themselves once again celebrating an early try for five points and a successful kick for two that placed them on top 39-10.

Understanding the crucial need for a voice to be heard, senior fullback and center D’Maurier McKenzie stepped up.

“Making sure everyone was aligned and in position, just gotta let them know to look up and match numbers so we were good on defense,” McKenzie said.

That voice was heard loud and clear, as the Hornets brought fresh bodies in who would score the first points for Sac State since the first half. Keeping their foot on the gas pedal would now be the key to mount a much needed comeback.

“Our defense certainly tightened up in the second half,” Seifert said. “Once they understood to play as a team and not just as individuals, things started to turn around for us.”

An unanswered second half run of their own to put together five consecutive tries, and two kicks had the Hornets tied, with the Banana Slugs 39-39.

A total of eight combined missed kicks between the two teams left a weight on Sac State senior Andy Vang as he made the crucial final kicks of the game.

“It always comes down to the second half where we have to have each other’s back, and keep ourselves accountable,” Vang said. “You have to think about everyone that comes out here to watch you, this is your life right here, it’s bigger than the game.”

The Sac State men’s rugby club gather together with the University of California, Santa Cruz for a photo after the game at the Intramural Field Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. Ending the game in a tie left both teams distraught in hopes for another chance to win, but it did not stop the comradery between the two. (Photo by Orlando Fuller) (Orlando Fuller)



The Hornets ran out of time on the clock for a complete second half comeback, ending the game with a tie of 39-39. Not only did Sac State manage to mount a double-digit deficit, but they did it with poise and togetherness.

“Had we had a little bit more time we probably would have scored one more if not a couple,” Seifert said. “Now if I could just get the boys to start out that way.”

The keys to victory for the Hornets lay within themselves and their ability to play together as a team for the full 80 minutes. As seen in this second half, the capability to be successful and dominant is evident.

“We know our offense is good enough to run around teams due to the number of athletes we have,” McKenzie said. “When we are on defense, we just have to worry about talking to each other and communicating if we find ourselves down.”

Sac State hopes to continue this second half momentum into next week when they take on Long Beach State Saturday, Feb. 10 in a league game at the Sac State Intramural Field.

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Orlando Fuller, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Orlando Fuller is in his senior year, graduating in May. As well as majoring in journalism he hopes to become a sports reporter or investigative journalist.
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  • ShammyboFeb 6, 2024 at 3:42 pm

    Nice article little buddy!

    Reply