College Sports

Sacramento State plays follow the leader: Jordan Robinson

Sacramento State running back Jordan Robinson had to update No. 1 on his personal highlights list after the Hornets’ thrilling 41-38 comeback win over Montana State last Saturday night in a Big Sky Conference game at Hornet Stadium.

The senior had what coach Jody Sears considered the pivotal play in sparking the Hornets’ remarkable 20-point fourth-quarter run, capped by Jaelin Ratliff’s winning touchdown catch with 15 seconds to play at Hornet Stadium.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Robinson burst through a slew of Montana State tacklers for a 32-yard touchdown with 1:42 to play in the first half, reducing Sac State’s deficit to 24-21.

“He broke four or five tackles during that run,” Sears said. “I told our players to go out in the second half and show the heart that their senior leader just showed. ‘If you do, you will win the game.’ And they did.”

Robinson, one of only seven seniors on Sac State’s roster, rushed for 60 yards on eight carries, caught six passes for 58 yards and also scored on a 1-yard touchdown run that capped a 96-yard, 11-play drive with 11:22 to play in the fourth quarter. That touchdown cut Montana State’s lead to 38-28, then quarterback Nate Ketteringham and Ratliff combined for back-to-back touchdowns as the Hornets stunned the exhausted Bobcats.

“It was a real cool experience; (it’s) my No. 1 personal highlight because of how we had to come back and because of everything we’ve been through,” Robinson said.

Robinson said his previous chart-topping highlight was catching two touchdown passes to help Sac State defeat UC Davis 41-30 at Aggie Stadium in the 2014 Causeway Classic.

But last Saturday’s win was unexpected. The Hornets entered the Big Sky Conference game winless and had lost 10 consecutive meetings to Montana State dating to 2005.

“We were looking for that win, something to propel us to keep moving forward and give us the confidence to get more Ws,” Robinson said.

The Hornets (1-4, 1-1) will look to make it a two-game winning streak Saturday night when they play No. 24 North Dakota (3-2, 2-0) in a homecoming game.

The multi-skilled Robinson figures to play a big role again. As adept at catching passes as he is at running the ball, Robinson is Sac State’s all-time leader in receptions by a running back with 96. He’s also No. 6 in career rushing yards (2,072).

“He brings a lot of versatility to our offense,” Sears said. “You can get into a plethora of formations and personnel groupings with him. He can run inside or out as a running back. He can line up in the slot as an extra receiver and run corners and digs and posts and option routes. He’s got tremendous ball skills.”

With six games remaining in the Sac State standout’s college career, it seems like only yesterday that a thinner, less-muscular Robinson was pressed into service as a true freshman in 2013 because of injuries to the Hornets’ running back corps.

Robinson made a splashy home debut that season in a 37-21win over Northern Colorado with 82 rushing yards, a touchdown and three receptions for 63 yards.

“The game was moving real fast, a lot faster than high school,” said Robinson, who also starred in baseball at Ayala High in Chino Hills. “But it was a cool experience. It’s funny because it feels like that was last season, the time has gone by so quickly. It’s sad and crazy to think it’s almost over. But it’s been a fun ride.”

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP

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