Brian Baer / Special to The Bee

DeAndre Carter, right, celebrates his game-tying touchdown catch with a second left in regulation last Saturday with Sacramento State teammate Shane Harrison.

Sacramento State's Carter fueled by memories of his late brother

Published: Saturday, Sep. 21, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C

DeAndre Carter is playing for two these days.

But the speedy Sacramento State wide receiver, who set a school record for touchdown receptions in last Saturday's 63-56 overtime win over Southern Oregon, doesn't feel any extra weight on his muscular shoulders.

The sorrow of his younger brother's death last month only steels the junior's resolve to be a better player and person.

"He was my best friend, my wing man," Carter said this week. "It hurts to see him go. We had lots of dreams and aspirations that we hoped to accomplish together.

"Now he's with me in everything I do. He was with me every step of the way Saturday."

Kaylan Carter, an Enochs High School football player in Modesto, died Aug. 16 after being taken off life support.

The 17-year-old collapsed June 24 during a summer weightlifting session at the school and spent seven weeks on life support in hospitals in Modesto and Santa Clara after suffering brain damage.

Doctors discovered he suffered from cardiomyopathy – an enlarged heart.

"It never showed up in any physicals, no one ever knew," DeAndre Carter said. "It was shocking, unfortunate. But God doesn't make any mistakes."

Carter spent the summer and the early part of fall training camp driving back and forth from Sacramento to Modesto and Santa Clara to keep a watch over his brother.

It was a lot to handle for a 20-year old.

"DeAndre doesn't show too much emotion," said Sac State quarterback Garrett Safron. "But you knew he was hurting. You could see that he had that connection with his brother. That's why Saturday night was so great for him."

After making just four catches for 34 yards in the season's first two games – blowout losses at San Jose State and Arizona State – the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Carter made big play after big play against upset-minded Southern Oregon.

He caught five touchdown passes to break the previous team record of four held by Chris Kelly (1999) and tied a Big Sky Conference record.

Carter's biggest catches came late.

His fourth touchdown catch of the day came with one second to play to cap a 75-yard drive (he caught four passes on the drive) that started with 1:48 left, sending the game into overtime. His fifth TD pass – a 14-yard strike in the back of the end zone from Safron in overtime – proved to be the game winner.

"That was a great call by our offensive coordinator, coach (Paul) Peterson," Carter said of the game-winning pass. "Garrett made the perfect throw. And you have to give the line credit. That play doesn't happen if they don't make their blocks."

Carter, who finished with 12 catches for 122 yards, on Monday was named the Co-Offensive Football Championship Subdivision National Player of the Week by the Sports Network.

"I was grateful to receive such an award, but individual awards aren't accomplished by individuals – it's a team effort," he said.

Carter joined former running back Charles Roberts (1999 vs. Idaho State) as the only players to score five touchdowns in one game for Sac State.

Even though senior Morris Norrise is viewed as the Hornets' top receiver – Sac State's career No. 2 receiver had 10 catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns last week – Carter was the go-to guy on the final two touchdowns.

"You could see that their defenders were having a hard time matching up with his speed and quickness," coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "He got in some man coverage, and I don't think they could handle him. It didn't hurt that all our other receivers played well."

Carter said every catch he made was fueled by memories of his brother, a running back-defensive back with an upbeat personality.

"I miss him, even though I know he's watching from above," Carter said. "Now the rest of the season, my whole life, is about trying to make him proud."

Carter hopes that the emotional win carries over into tonight's game against visiting Southern Utah.

"We have a long way to go, but if we keep working hard, hopefully, we get to complete our goals of winning the Big Sky getting into the playoffs and winning the FCS championship. Those are goals and aspirations that are still intact."

TODAY'S GAME

SOUTHERN UTAH (2-1) AT SACRAMENTO STATE (1-2)

• Where: Hornet Stadium (21,195)

• Time: 6:05 p.m.

• TV: None • Radio: 1380 AM

• Thunderbirds at a glance: Southern Utah opened the season with a 22-21 win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team, South Alabama, then beat Fort Lewis 49-0 before losing 48-10 last week at Washington State. Quarterback Aaron Cantu, a community college transfer, runs the ball-control offense. Preseason All-America kicker Colton Cook is 4 for 5 on field goals.

• Hornets at a glance: Sac State hopes to build on the offensive firepower it showed in last week's 63-56 overtime win against Southern Oregon in its home opener. The Hornets compiled 639 total yards, and junior quarterback Garrett Safron (seven) and wide receiver DeAndre Carter (five) set school records for touchdown throws and touchdown catches. Safron is tied for sixth with Greg Knapp for career touchdown passes (32). Coach Marshall Sperbeck is expecting a better performance from a heavily penalized defense that allowed 599 yards to the Raiders, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school.

• The series: Sacramento State leads 7-6 and has won four of the last five meetings. Last year, since-graduated Jeff Badger intercepted a pass with less than two minutes to play to seal Sac State's 27-22 victory. Although both are in the Big Sky Conference, this is a non-conference meeting.

Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.

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