College Sports

Sac State extends strong start by crushing Menlo

In just four games, Jody Sears has separated himself from every coach who has taken the reins since John Baker in 1957.

With Saturday night’s 59-14 win over Menlo College, Sears became the second coach in school history to begin his career at Sacramento State 3-1 while notching consecutive wins at home for the first time since 2010.

But like most coaches, he downplays the accomplishment to nothing more than a fact.

“This isn’t about me,” Sears said. “It’s a statistic, and statistics have no control over how well we play, how well we execute and how well we prepare.”

The spectrum of the Hornets’ performance was as broad as its margin of victory.

“We’ve just got to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Sears said. “There was a lot of good, some bad, and some uglies.”

The good was on offense, which racked up 551 yards.

Quarterback Garrett Safron was efficient, completing 17 of 25 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. DeAndre Carter was Safron’s top target, finishing with 77 yards on six receptions.

Jordan Robinson picked up where he left off against Weber State last week, piling up 94 yards in the first half en route to a 114-yard night on 10 carries. He put the home team on the scoreboard first with a 23-yard run early in the opening quarter.

The offense took advantage of Menlo’s inability to stop the run. The Hornets picked up 273 yards on the ground.

There was a lot of good on defense as well.

The unit collected five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble recovery). The interceptions from Josh Armstrong, Nick Crouch, Austin Clark and Mike Sellers were all the first of their careers and tied a school record for the most in one game.

Linebacker Darnell Sankey entered Saturday’s game ranked sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision – and third in the Big Sky Conference – with 12.7 tackles per contest. He notched 17 tackles, five short of the school record.

Then there was the ugly.

Aside from Isiah Hennie’s 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, special-teams miscues cost Sac State when the game was still in reach. A blocked punt was turned into six points for Menlo.

But that 14-point deficit in the first half would be as close as Menlo (1-4) would get.

The Oaks had 317 total yards and were paced by quarterback Nate Dodson, who finished 17 of 31 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Soohoo was his top receiver with five catches for 99 yards and one score.

For the second straight week, Sac State had 10-plus penalties, seeing flags 15 times on Saturday night.

“That’s completely unacceptable,” Sears said. “You’ve got to identify it, you’ve got to talk about it, and then you’ve got to work (the players). You’ve got to put them in stressful situations and continue to coach them.”

With the nonconference portion of Sac State’s schedule complete, the legitimacy of the Hornets’ early success will be tested next week at Idaho State.