Something had to give Saturday night at Hornet Stadium in a meeting of Big Sky Conference unbeatens, and it was Sacramento State’s two winning streaks that buckled, but not its collective will.
No. 3 Weber State delivered two knockout blows, first to star quarterback Kevin Thomson and then a decisive 36-17 triumph over the No. 6 Hornets in front of 11,253 fans in the highest-ranked meeting to hit this campus since the school started blocking and tackling in 1954.
Weber State looked the part of a program that has now won 12 consecutive Big Sky games and 26 of 28. Ranked for 37 consecutive weeks and a two-time defending conference champion, the Wildcats of Ogden, Utah, flexed their considerable muscle with speed, ferocity and a punishing running game while keeping the conference’s most prolific offense largely in check.
Weber State moves to 7-2 overall and 5-0 in the Big Sky while Sac State slips to 6-3 and 4-1 in having its four-game home streak and four-game overall streak ground to a halt.
The overall streak was the longest for Sac State since it joined the FCS level in 1994, up from Division II, and the 4-0 league start was the program’s best since 1986.
Sac State trailed 16-10 late in the half when Thomson was crushed on a blind-side blitz. He sat on the turf for several moments to collect himself as coach Troy Taylor and two trainers comforted him.
The third-year starter was able to walk off the field on his own power, and Thomson slowly walked to the locker room, done in by a sore neck and back.
Thomson was taken to a hospital for observation, though his condition does not appear to be serious. Thomson’s departure was a blow to Sac State, its leader not in the huddle leading the charge. The Hornets can collectively feel the pain of their team captain. Thomson sat out two years at the beginning of his college career, at UNLV, with an elbow injury and he missed a good portion of last season with a back injury.
He was well on his way to Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year honors this season, though Thomson does not play for accolades. Thomson has been a primary reason the Hornets went from 2-8 a year ago to the surprise, feel-good story of all of the FCS land this fall.
Jake Dunniway played admirably, if not a bit rushed, in relief as Weber State kept applying the pressure. Dunniway completed 12 of 24 passes for 154 yards with two interceptions. His 58-yard touchdown to Pierre Williams early in the fourth made for the final score.
Thomson passed for 144 yards and had a 31-yard touchdown to Marshel Martin to pull within 16-10 of Weber State.
“Kevin’s a warrior and we just want him to be healthy and OK,” Taylor said.
Said Dunniway, “Kevin’s a great leader. He’s been here a long time. He’s proven himself. You can’t say enough good things about Kevin.
A week after dropping the hammer at UC Davis 36-20 in a game that never felt that close, Weber State ran 74 plays for 372 yards on Sac State, converted 8 of 17 on third down while allowing Sac State to convert 3 of 14 and 1 of 4 on fourth down.
Josh Davis rushed for 178 yards and a touchdown for Weber State and Jake Constantine passed for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Weber State controlled the clock at times, recorded a safety, produced three sacks and made plays on special teams.
“They beat us in all three phases,” Taylor said. “We never got in sync. It’s no fun to lose, but we have to bounce back. It’s one night and one game. We have great leadership on this team. We will respond. We have a lot of great things ahead of us.”
Sac State had some good defensive moments, producing four sacks, including two by George Obinna.
The senior defensive end is now the program’s all-time career sack leader with 31, breaking the mark of 29 held by Zack Nash.
“I love to watch George play,” Sac State defensive back Marcus Bruce. “That dude is an animal. He’s an exciting player. He’s going to destroy that record.”