College Sports

UC Davis returns to North Dakota and Sac State looks to end slide in Big Sky football

Sacramento State defensive back Allen Perryman makes a tackle against Fresno State on Sept. 21 in Fresno.
Sacramento State defensive back Allen Perryman makes a tackle against Fresno State on Sept. 21 in Fresno. Sacramento State Athletics

UC Davis returns to the Peace Garden State, determined to not be “out-energized.” Sacramento State returns from a bye week, determined to get a leg up in the Big Sky Conference football standings against a program that has owned Hornet Stadium.

UCD (2-3) meets North Dakota (2-2) at 11 a.m. in Grand Forks just two weeks after falling 27-16 game at FCS No. 1 North Dakota State.

Sac State (2-2) will host No. 21 Eastern Washington (2-3) on Saturday at Hornet Stadium at 6 p.m. in its Big Sky opener in what figures to be an offensive showcase. The Eagles are 12-0 lifetime at Sac State.

UCD is smarting from its 45-20 home loss to Montana, which led 38-14 in the third quarter as Dalton Sneed passed for 268 yards and five touchdowns. Montana visits Sac State on Oct. 19.

Aggies coach Dan Hawkins heaped credit on Montana and said his group will respond because it has to. College football affords no room for losing streaks.

“They outplayed us, out-executed us, out-coached us and out-energized us,” Hawkins said. “It was tough on a lot of counts, but that’s sports. Those guys are good, and they came in here with a force of will. It’s frustrating, but this will be a good lesson for us. They out-everythinged us.”

Jake Maier took the loss personally. The Aggies’ third-year starting quarterback was too hard, actually, saying, “This is 100-percent on me.”

Maier did his part to keep the Aggies afloat, tossing three touchdown passes, and he surpassed the 9,000-yard career passing mark. But Maier doesn’t play defense – that unit gave up 528 yards.

Maier has 70 career touchdown passes, moving him past Kevin Daft into second on the program’s all-time career list behind J.T. O’Sullivan, who had 96 from 1998-2001. Maier’s 18 career 300-yard games is a program record.

UCD dropped from No. 4 in the FCS Coaches Top 25 poll to 12th. North Dakota received 13 votes in the poll and Sac State 12.

North Dakota lost 38-7 to North Dakota State and has a 35-20 setback at Eastern Washington.

Sac State seeks first home win over Eastern Washington

Sac State will play its third home game of the season, with this one counting the most in what the school is calling a “blackout” night. The Hornets will wear black uniforms with a plea for fans to wear black as well in an effort to deny Eastern Washington another win at the venue.

Sac State opened the season and the Troy Taylor coaching era with a record-setting 77-19 rout of Southern Oregon, then lost 19-7 at Arizona State despite being 37-point underdogs, beat Northern Colorado 50-0 at home, then fell 34-20 at Fresno State despite being 24-point dogs.

It was tied in the fourth quarter before Fresno State pulled away.

“Our guys competed,” Taylor said after the game. “This team is resilient.”

Taylor is familiar with Eastern Washington, having worked with the football program as a play caller in 2016 when the Eagles led the FCS with 401 yards passing.

Coming off a 12-3 season that included eliminating UCD in the playoffs, Eastern Washington is the fifth ranked FCS team remaining on Sac State’s schedule, deemed the most difficult in the Big Sky. And the Eagles have long been a difficult task for the Hornets.

Eastern Washington leads the all-time series 19-4, including the last six in succession. The Eagles are 12-0 at Hornet Stadium, which is difficult to fathom given how wild Big Sky games can be.

The Eagles opened this season with a 47-14 loss to Washington and have lost to Jacksonville State and Idaho.

George Obinna has quietly had a strong career on the defensive line for Sac State, tying his career best with eight tackles and 2 1/2 sacks at Fresno State in front of his former Hornets position coach Will Plemons and one-time defensive coordinator Sammy Lawanson.

Obinna earned All-Big Sky honors in 201 and was named to three preseason FCS All-American teams before last season but injuries derailed his 2018 season. He is 6 1/2 sacks away from tying the program’s career sack mark of 29 1/2 held by Zack Nash.

Allen Perryman has been Sac State’s most consistent defender, the strong safety recording at least five tackles in each game and leading the unit with 30. He’ll need more stops to stall Eastern Washington, which averages nearly 470 yards of offense a game.

Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.