College Sports

Local football notes: In Sac State vs. Cal Poly matchup, it’s pass vs. run

Center John Wallace, left, offensive lineman Derek Nielsen, center, and Lars Hanson go through drills during practice at Sac State on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
Center John Wallace, left, offensive lineman Derek Nielsen, center, and Lars Hanson go through drills during practice at Sac State on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. rpench@sacbee.com

It will be a contrast in offensive styles when Sacramento State hosts Cal Poly on Saturday night in its homecoming game at Hornet Stadium.

Triple-option Cal Poly (3-3, 2-1 Big Sky Conference) leads Football Championship Subdivision schools in rushing at 327.8 yards per game, with quarterback Chris Brown accounting for a team-leading 603 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Sac State (4-3, 1-2) is No. 9 nationally in passing offense, averaging 290 yards with record-setting senior quarterback Garrett Safron. The Hornets also are ninth nationally in team scoring (41 points) and 10th in total offense (490 yards).

Cal Poly is one of the few teams in the nation still using a run-dominated triple option, so Hornets coach Jody Sears said his scout team couldn’t duplicate in practice this week what the Mustangs do best.

“We can simulate as much as we can, but at the end of the day, the speed and intensity that is going to come at us on Saturday is something you can’t replicate,” Sears said.

Yet it was the Mustangs’ defense that stood out against the Hornets last season in San Luis Obispo. Sac State was held to 258 yards and Brown threw four touchdown passes as the Mustangs coasted to a 42-7 win.

That victory gave Cal Poly a 17-16 advantage in the series between the two longtime rivals. Sac State had evened the series with a 35-29 home victory in 2012, with Safron passing for 303 yards and four touchdowns.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Cal Poly coach Tim Walsh said. “They have a lot of returning players. Garrett Safron and Mr. (DeAndre) Carter at wide receiver are playing at a high level right now, which you can attribute to the scheme, but also to their offensive line.

“We can go back and look as much as we want at last year. In reality, we played a very good football game all the way around last year, and they did it to us two years ago in Sacramento when we were 7-0.”

The Hornets beat Northern Colorado 43-38 on Saturday for their first conference victory in three tries (the Hornets have a nonconference win over Weber State). Safron threw three touchdown passes and De’Jon Coleman rushed for two touchdowns and returned a blocked punt for a score.

Cal Poly beat Weber State 30-24 to move into fourth place in the Big Sky behind No. 2 Eastern Washington (6-1, 3-0), No. 9 Montana State (5-2, 3-0) and No. 7 Montana (4-2, 2-0).

In the victory, Brown became the first player in Cal Poly’s Division I history to rush for a touchdown, throw for a touchdown and catch a touchdown pass in the same game.

Brown, who has passed for 818 passing yards and five touchdowns, has been the Mustangs’ starter since the season opener after beating out former Folsom High star Dano Graves.

“You can call it the quadruple option because Chris Brown can throw it, too,” Sears said.

No reprieve for Aggies – UC Davis (1-5, 0-3) will try to bounce back from one of its most one-sided losses, 77-37 to Montana State during homecoming Saturday.

The Aggies, who already have played No. 23 Stanford, Colorado State, Eastern Washington and Montana State, play Montana on Saturday in Missoula, where the Grizzlies usually fill the 2,500-seat stadium.

The Aggies’ struggling defense has been hurt by injuries, but its offense has been rejuvenated by new starting quarterback Ben Scott (379 passing yards, four touchdowns against Montana State) and the return to form of running back Gabe Manzanares (143 rushing yards and a touchdown).

The Aggies’ six-game start is their worst since 0-6 in 1960.

“Obviously last week’s score concerns me a ton because that’s not even indicative of the football team that Davis has,” Montana coach Mick Delaney said.

While the Aggies allowed 11 touchdowns and 737 yards against the Bobcats, Montana (5-0 all-time against UC Davis) had a bye week, a week of rest the Aggies won’t get until after their trip to the Big Sky State.

Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.

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