Last season, Garrett Safron dazzled Sacramento State football fans with his quarterbacking skills.
He set season school records for completions and completion percentage while throwing 22 touchdown passes.
But through the first nine quarters of the 2013 season, the junior from Santa Monica seemed to be AWOL.
Entering the second quarter of Saturday's home opener against Southern Oregon, Safron had thrown five interceptions, fumbled once and had no touchdown passes.
Then the Safron of old appeared and the Hornets needed every bit of him to hold off an upset-minded Raiders team in a game that turned into a wild shootout.
Safron threw for a school-record seven touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime and the tying touchdown with one second to play in regulation, to lift the Hornets over Southern Oregon 63-56 in front of an announced crowd of 7,543.
The tying and winning touchdown passes were to DeAndre Carter, a 6-yarder and, on third down in the first series of overtime, a 14-yarder.
Sac State (1-2) then kept Southern Oregon (0-3) and its standout quarterback, Austin Dodge, out of the end zone in their overtime series that started at the Hornets' 25.
"We hung in there, and it was just a hard-fought game by both teams," said Sac State coach Marshall Sperbeck. "We were very fortunate to pull it out."
Safron completed 34 of 52 passes for 368 yards and added 51 rushing yards. He broke the record of six touchdown passes set by Ryan Leadingham in 2003.
Carter caught 12 passes for 122 yards and a school-record five touchdowns. Morris Norrise had 10 catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Carter's five scores broke the previous record of four held by Chris Kelly in 1999.
Running back Ezekiel Graham rushed for 166 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries as Sac State rolled up 639 total yards.
But they weren't the only stars.
Southern Oregon, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school from Ashland that set a college football record by averaging 642 total yards last season, almost matched the Hornets play for play.
Dodge completed 27 of 57 passes for 366 yards and six touchdowns without throwing an interception. And former Vacaville running back Melvin Mason rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns, including a 59-yarder that put Southern Oregon ahead 56-49 with 1:48 to play.
Sac State got the ball back on its own 25, and Safron drove the Hornets to the Southern Oregon 6-yard line with four seconds to play.
With one second showing, Safron hit Carter with a quick toss over the middle for the 6-yard touchdown, the 12th play of the drive.
Southern Oregon pressured Sac State's defense throughout in gaining 599 total yards, and the Hornets didn't help their cause with some untimely penalties (13 for 129 yards).
But the Hornets' defenders played flawlessly in overtime.
Dodge threw an incomplete pass to Jeremy Scottow on the left side, then Sac State's JC Totty and Russell Smith smothered Mason for a 1-yard loss. Dodge threw incompletions to Dylan Young and Mason on third and fourth downs on plays that were well-defended.
Defensively, linebacker Todd Davis led the Hornets with 12 tackles and a sack, and Smith, a freshman linebacker, added seven tackles. Former Oak Ridge player Dusti Fretwell had nine tackles for Southern Oregon. Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.
Editor's note: This story was changed Sept. 17 to correct the net yardage gained by Ezekiel Graham and Melvin Mason.