Sacramento State had one of its best defensive performances in a while in Saturday's 31-3 victory that ended an 0-8 streak at Weber State.
The Hornets (2-3) recovered four fumbles, had four sacks and held the Wildcats to 234 total yards in their Big Sky Conference opener.
It was the second-fewest points allowed by Sac State in a conference game, and it was only the fifth time the Hornets held a conference opponent without a touchdown.
Sophomore defensive end Darnell Sankey had a career-high 10 tackles, including four for losses, and three sacks. He also forced and recovered a fumble. Sankey was named both the Football Championship Subdivision and Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Senior linebacker Todd Davis added a career-high 16 tackles.
"It was an all-around great game for us, and a game that we needed," Davis said. "We've had some games where the offense played well and some games where the defense played better, but this was the game that brought us all together."
Defensive linemen Antonio Hayes, Ben Cowger and Nathan Castro also recovered fumbles, and Nick Mazza added 2 1/2 tackles for losses. The defensive backfield, led by Markell Williams, Anthony Payne and Osagie Odiase, limited Weber State to 91 passing yards.
"We were due it was a good win for us," Sac State coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "The defense really played well the whole game. They did a nice job, along with our special teams, of keeping us in the game in the first half. We came out in the second half and played really well on offense."
The win was costly, though.
Starting running back Ezekiel Graham may be out for the season with a left ankle sprain, though it's not broken as feared.
Castro and backup running back Demetrius Warren also are expected to miss at least one game after injuring their shoulders. Sankey bruised his ribs, but he's expected to play Saturday against Northern Colorado.
Sperbeck said quarterback Garrett Safron had to have 20 stitches in his left (non-throwing) hand after getting cut early in the first half against Weber State.
The injury, which occurred when Safron was hit by a Wildcats face mask, had little effect on his performance. He threw four touchdown passes, three to DeAndre Carter.
Bears come to town It's homecoming week for the Hornets, and they play Northern Colorado, which has lost four in a row and is 0-7 against Sac State.
Though the Bears lost 27-21 to Southern Utah last week, they held the Thunderbirds to 37 rushing yards and Raysean Martin to 17 yards on seven carries.
The previous week, Martin rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns in Southern Utah's come-from-behind 24-21 overtime nonconference road victory over the Hornets.
It's uncertain if Seth Lobato, Northern Colorado's 6-foot-6, 233-pound senior quarterback, will be able to play. Lobato, third on Northern Colorado's career offensive chart with 6,223 total yards, injured his throwing shoulder in the third quarter of a 35-7 loss to Wyoming on Sept. 14 and has missed the Bears' last two games.
"They're a team that's hungry for a win and has some firepower," Sperbeck said.
Williams nominated Williams, a senior, has been named one of 170 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the top student-athlete in college football.
Williams, from Vacaville, has started 18 games for Sac State and has 96 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions.
He is a three-time Big Sky Conference all-academic selection who had a 4.0 grade-point average last spring. He will graduate in December with a degree in sociology.
Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.