College Sports

Sacramento State hopes to say ‘bye’ to long skid after break

While football players usually relish a week off to heal bumps and bruises, the brief reprieve hasn’t been kind to UC Davis or Sacramento State.

The Aggies (2-7, 1-5 Big Sky Conference) came off a bye week Saturday and lost 51-29 to Portland State (3-6, 2-4) at Aggie Stadium. UCD lost the game after its bye for the third consecutive year.

“It’s disappointing because we had a good two weeks of practice,” Aggies coach Ron Gould said.

Sac State (1-8, 1-5 Big Sky) hopes to end its post-bye losing streak against visiting Portland State on Saturday. The Hornets have lost 10 consecutive games after a bye. Their last post-break win came in 2003, when they upset No. 12 Idaho State 47-21. Sac State did not have a bye in 2004 and 2005.

Portland State is struggling after going a surprising 9-3 and making the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs last year. But the Vikings impressed against UC Davis, totaling 602 yards. Alex Kursea threw for a career-high 384 yards and a touchdown.

Sac State is trying shore up a defense that allowed 674 yards in its last outing, a 59-47 loss to No. 16 Cal Poly on Oct. 29 at Hornet Stadium.

Eight seniors will be honored at Sac State’s senior night, including former area high school players Cody Demps (Pleasant Grove) and Tyler Young (Casa Roble, American River College), both wide receivers, and quarterback Daniel Kniffin (Rocklin).

Hungry for a win – Montana State has been one of the Big Sky’s traditional powers, but the Bobcats are still seeking their first conference win under first-year coach Jeff Choate entering Saturday’s home finale against UC Davis.

On Saturday, Montana State (2-7, 0-6) played Southern Utah tough but committed three turnovers in a 38-21 loss. Freshman Chris Murray passed for two touchdowns and ran for a score, but he also threw three interceptions.

Miscues have been a problem for the Bobcats. Murray and backup Tyler Bruggman have combined to throw 14 interceptions, and the Bobcats are tied for last in the Big Sky in turnover margin at minus-9.

The Aggies look to bounce back defensively after Portland State’s Kursea carved them up with big-play passes. Gould said a combination of blown coverages and a failure to contain Kursea caused the Aggies to regress on defense after they played well the previous three games.

“We knew going in this quarterback is unbelievable,” Gould said. “His ability to get in and out of trouble is phenomenal. …He got outside of the pocket and extended plays.”

UCD running backs Joshua Kelley and Manusamoa Luuga combined for 180 rushing yards on 26 carries against Portland State. Luuga, a senior, is 188 yards from his first 1,000-yard season for the Aggies.

“We’ve got a big challenge,” Choate said. “They are good at running the ball.”

Basketball signings – The UC Davis men’s basketball team signed 6-foot-5 wing Gio Nelson from Centennial High School of Corona and 6-8 forward Logan Strom from Norfolk (Neb.) High to national letters of intent during the NCAA’s early singing period. Strom, a tight end, received a combined 22 Division I basketball and football offers.

The UCD women’s basketball team signed three players: 6-3 center Sage Stobbart of Seycove High in North Vancouver, British Columbia; 6-foot forward Kayla Konrad of Valencia High; and 6-foot forward Cierra Hall of Fairmont Preparatory Academy in Anaheim.

Sac State men’s basketball program signed 6-6 forward/guard Bryce Fowler from Agua Fria High in Avondale, Ariz.

Big Sky ticket special – Friday is the last day for a special ticket pre-sale for the Big Sky men’s and women’s basketball tournaments March 6-11 at the Reno Events Center. Fans can call the Reno Events Center box office at (775) 335-8837 to purchase all-session passes at a discount rate of $80 for the men’s event and $38 for the women’s. Regularly priced tickets go on sale on Monday at university box office sites and

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP