College Sports

Sac State and UC Davis hit the road as closing games could define football seasons

The football programs have been successful road warriors a time or two this season, but Sacramento State and UC Davis have also been road-rash victims away from the comforts of home.

No. 8 Sac State aims to halt Northern Arizona’s 4-0 home showing in Flagstaff on Saturday in Big Sky Conference action, with visions of claiming its first championship in the conference. UCD, meanwhile, plans to dent up Portland State’s 4-1 home-field good vibe, a spoiler role for the defending tri-champion of perhaps the best league in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Sac State (6-3, 4-1 Big Sky) has lost four in a row to Northern Arizona (4-5, 2-3). This one figures to be an entertaining show of quarterbacks.

The Lumberjacks are led by Case Cookus, a sixth-year senior who has passed for 3,153 yards and 26 touchdowns. His 11,121 career passing yards are a school record and the sixth most in Big Sky history.

He will be quite a challenge for a Hornets defense headed by defensive end George Obinna, the program’s career sack leader with 31, bettering the mark of 29 1/2 held by Zack Nash. The Hornets lead the conference with 36 sacks and are third in the FCS.

Sac State is coming off a 36-17 home loss to No. 3 Weber State, a game that included the loss of star quarterback Kevin Thomson. He was knocked out of the game and is listed as day-to-day. Jake Dunniway replaced him and had mixed moments while also having the backing of coach Troy Taylor, who said, “Jake’s going to be really good.”

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak, the longest in the program’s 26-year history in the Division I FCS level.

Sac State and Northern Arizona were scheduled to play last year on the Hornets’ Senior Night, but poor air quality from the Camp Fire in Butte County forced the cancellation of the Nov. 10 game.

Aggies back after a bye

UCD (4-5, 2-3) was idle last week after falling at home to Weber State 36-20. The Aggies close the regular season with a home game on Nov. 16 against Montana State and then the 66th Causeway Classic at Sac State on Nov. 23.

With 10,274 career yards, Jake Maier is 472 shy of surpassing J.T. O’Sullivan for the most in program history. He needs 326 yards to join O’Sullivan (1997-2001) as the only players in program history to have three consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons.

“He’s special, a great one,” UCD coach Dan Hawkins said of Maier.

O’Sullivan is the first-year head coach at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego, having taken over a 1-9 team that is now in the playoffs.

Wes Preece’s 24 career touchdowns are the most in UCD program history for a tight end, six more than Howard Gravelle (1967-69).

Portland State, which went 4-7 last season and 0-11 in 2017, is 5-5 with a balanced offense that includes quarterback Davis Alexander (2,325 yards, 17 touchdowns) and running backs Sirgeo Hoffman (715 yards, 8 TDs) and Davis Alexander (629 yards, 5 TDs).

How to watch or listen

Sacramento State at Northern Arizona

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Radio: 1320


UC Davis at Portland State

When: 2:05 p.m. Saturday

Radio: 1140


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.