Brian Baer / Special to The Sacramento Bee

"This is my third time up here, and it was well overdue for the Hornets. It's nice to get the monkey off our back."

Marshall Sperbeck, Sacramento State football coach, on defeating Weber State.

Sac State ends skid at Weber State

Published: Sunday, Sep. 29, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 7C
Last Modified: Sunday, Sep. 29, 2013 - 12:21 am

OGDEN, Utah – Sacramento State finally broke through.

After losing eight straight road games to Weber State since joining the Big Sky Conference in 1996, the Hornets picked up their first win in Ogden, Utah, beating the Wildcats 31-3 in its Big Sky opener Saturday.

"It feels good," Sac State coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "This is my third time up here, and it was well overdue for the Hornets. It's nice to get the monkey off our back."

Quarterback Garrett Safron led the way, completing 25 of 32 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns, three to wide receiver DeAndre Carter.

Hornets defensive lineman Darnell Sankey spent much of the night in Weber State's backfield, piling up 10 tackles (4 1/2 for a loss), two sacks and one forced fumble he recovered. He spearheaded a defensive effort that forced four fumbles and held the Wildcats to 234 total yards.

"Defense just had a great night," Sperbeck said. "We shut them down, we tackled well, we kept players in front of us, and it was just an overall great performance from there."

In an unusual sequence, the Hornets scored 14 points in 51 seconds just before halftime to break a scoreless tie, one that had produced 491 punting yards to that point.

Sac State struck first when Safron connected with Carter for a 15-yard touchdown, capping a six-play 43-yard drive with 1:04 left.

After a quick three-and-out, the Wildcats shanked a punt, which the Hornets returned to the Weber State 15. On the next play, Safron and Carter hooked up again, putting Sac State ahead 14-0 with 13 seconds remaining.

The Hornets then recovered an onside kick at the Wildcats' 35-yard line, giving them one more chance to score. However, Jesse Aguilar missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt wide right as time expired.

"Well, I think we were fortunate with that," Sperbeck said. "We managed the last four minutes of the half well, we took advantage of some opportunities, and the kickoff that bounced our way was huge. Sometimes you just get some breaks, and we were fortunate to get a few there."

The Hornets' offense hit the accelerator in the second half, scoring on its first three possessions of the third quarter.

Sac State quickly moved 75 yards on its first possession, capped by Safron's 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Broadnax.

After a Weber State field goal, Carter made his third touchdown reception, grabbing a 51-yard bomb from Safron up the left sideline to put the Hornets ahead 28-3.

Aguilar's 20-yard field goal with 2:42 left in the third ended the scoring.

Carter finished with eight catches for 148 yards. He is tied for the Football Championship Subdivision lead with nine touchdown receptions this season.

"We didn't make a ton of adjustments so much as we just got into a rhythm," Sperbeck said. "Sometimes you just need a score or something positive to help turn the momentum, and I think that little burst we had at the end of the half helped us."

Sac State did take some lumps. Starting running back Ezekiel Graham left with a possible broken leg in the first quarter, and Sankey had to be helped off the field early in the fourth quarter.

Notes – The Hornets handed the Wildcats their worst home loss in nine seasons and their worst Big Sky setback in 10 seasons.

• Sac State and Weber State entered Saturday's game as two of 19 FCS teams not to have made a field goal this season.

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