College Sports

Local college notes: Sac State gears up for offensive fireworks

Montana State offers a tough test for Sacramento State

Following a practice session on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, Sacramento State football coach Jody Sears and safety Nick Crouch talk about facing Montana State this Saturday at Hornets Stadium in a Big Sky Conference game. After playing the past thre
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Following a practice session on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, Sacramento State football coach Jody Sears and safety Nick Crouch talk about facing Montana State this Saturday at Hornets Stadium in a Big Sky Conference game. After playing the past thre

Sacramento State and Montana State have played some entertaining, high-scoring games at Hornet Stadium in recent years.

The Bobcats and Dakota Prukop, now Oregon’s starting quarterback, won a dramatic shootout with Garrett Safron and the Hornets 59-56 in 2014, the last time the teams met in Sacramento.

Four years earlier, Montana State prevailed 64-61 in overtime against the Hornets. The Bobcats have won their past five games in Sacramento, averaging 39 points.

New Montana State coach Jeff Choate said the Bobcats (2-2, 0-1 Big Sky Conference) will be challenged Saturday night at Hornet Stadium, even against a winless Sac State (0-4, 0-1) team that last beat Montana State in 2004.

5 Consecutive games won by Montana State in Sacramento

“Just historically, it’s been a very tough place for Montana State to play,” Choate said. “I wouldn’t expect anything different. I think we are going to have our hands full with their ability to stretch the field and create explosive plays on offense. We’re going to be tested.”

While the Bobcats haven’t been nearly as formidable offensively as in past seasons, they beat Western Oregon 55-0, a team the Hornets lost to 38-30 in the season opener at Hornet Stadium. Montana State, ranked eighth nationally in team defense (15.2 points per game), committed five turnovers in a 17-15 loss to North Dakota in the Bobcats’ Big Sky home opener last Saturday.

Although Sac State fell 42-34 at Idaho State in the Big Sky opener for both teams last Saturday, Hornets coach Jody Sears saw a lot of positives as his team gained a season-high 547 total yards.

Sophomore wide receiver Andre Lindsey, playing in place of injured Cody Demps, had five catches for 149 yards and blocked a punt on special teams. Lindsey didn’t play in the season opener and had just one catch in the Hornets’ next two games.

After being benched the week before early in a 14-7 loss at Weber State, quarterback Nate Ketteringham went the distance against the Bengals. He completed 25 of 46 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns, both to Isiah Hennie, and rushed for a career-high 96 yards and a touchdown.

But Ketteringham also threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown, and the Bengals scored three touchdowns on offensive plays of 60 yards or longer.

Aggies at Eastern Washington – No. 4 Eastern Washington (3-1, 1-0 Big Sky) has long had a formidable offense. But UC Davis (1-3, 0-1) will face an Eagles team Saturday in Cheney, Wash., that has ramped up its offensive output even more this season.

Eastern Washington ranks No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision in passing with 419.5 yards, third in total offense with 526.3 yards and sixth in scoring at 43.3 points per game, despite playing four demanding games to open the season.

The Eagles upset Washington State of the Pacific-12 Conference 45-42, then lost 50-44 in overtime at five-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. The Eagles also defeated No. 10 Northern Iowa 34-30 and last Saturday topped Big Sky preseason favorite Northern Arizona 50-35 in Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Eagles’ dynamic offense is being run by first year passing-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Troy Taylor. The former Cal and NFL quarterback co-coached Folsom High to four consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section championships, a CIF State Division I title and a 58-3 record the past four years.

419.5 Average passing yards, first in the Football Championship Subdivision, by Eastern Washington

Eagles coach Beau Baldwin said Taylor was hired to bring “fresh ideas, new things” to the Eagles’ attack that already consistently ranks among the top 10 in FCS passing and total offense.

“Coach Taylor has been awesome,” Baldwin said.

The Eagles feature record-setting wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the 2015 Walter Payton Award recipient as the FCS’s top offensive player who decided not to enter the NFL draft in April. Eagles quarterback Gage Gubrud leads the nation in total offense (1,666 yards), passing yards (1,430) and passing yards per game (357.5).

The Eagles will face a UCD defense that is allowing 42.8 points per game, 113th in FCS.

“You talk about back in the day, the (St. Louis) Rams’ ‘Greatest Show on Turf,’ ” UCD coach Ron Gould said. “Eastern Washington has the greatest show on turf and has three NFL wide receiver (prospects) led by Cooper Kupp.”

Sankey with Raiders – Former Sac State All-America linebacker Darnell Sankey, an undrafted free agent recently cut by the Denver Broncos, was signed to the Raiders’ practice squad on Wednesday.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP