College Sports

Local college notes: Safron, Carter look to put up big numbers in home finale against Portland State

Hornets quarterback, Garrett Safron (12), runs a play action play, faking the hand off to teammate Jordan Robinson (25) during the first quarter as the Hornets hosted Weber State on Saturday, September 13, 2014.
Hornets quarterback, Garrett Safron (12), runs a play action play, faking the hand off to teammate Jordan Robinson (25) during the first quarter as the Hornets hosted Weber State on Saturday, September 13, 2014. sabeephotos@sacbee.com

Sacramento State quarterback Garrett Safron has had some prolific days during his storied career with the Hornets. But there may have been none better than his performance last November in leading the Hornets’ to a 43-42 come-from-behind win at Portland State.

Safron set single-game school records for attempts (50), completions (34), total yards (554) and touchdowns (six) in rallying the Hornets from a 42-31 fourth-quarter deficit. Included was the game-winning, eight-play, 85-yard drive in the final minute that culminated with a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Hikutini with 30 seconds to play.

With an injury-plagued Portland State (3-7, 2-4 Big Sky Conference) coming to Hornet Stadium on Saturday for the rematch, the Hornets (5-5, 2-4) would prefer to avoid the stomach-churning, late-game intrigues that have characterized many of Sac State’s games in recent years.

For Sac State coach Jody Sears, the goal is to follow last Saturday’s “complete game” blueprint in beating Southern Utah 42-21 at Hornet Stadium: Efficient, sometimes spectacular offense and steady, no-big-plays-allowed defense.

Safron enters the Portland State game as the Football Championship Subdivision total offense leader with 2,912 passing yards and 641 rushing yards. He has 31 total touchdowns.

Saturday’s game will be the home finale for Safron and 17 seniors who will be honored before the game. Included will be wide receiver DeAndre Carter, Safron’s close friend and top receiver.

Carter was named the FCS and Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his school record-breaking performance against Southern Utah. He set school single-game receiving records for receptions (16) and yards (273) while also catching four touchdown passes.

He leads the nation in touchdown catches with 15, a single-season Hornets record. His 273 receiving yards are the most by an FCS player this season and his average of 8.2 receptions per game also leads the FCS.

With two games still to play, Carter needs just one more catch to tie Tony Washington for the Sac State single-season receptions lead with 83. But for Carter, Saturday’s home finale and the Causeway Classic on Nov. 22 at UC Davis are not about individual statistics but achieving team goals.

“We want to win our two games to get the momentum going for next year’s team, so they have something to build on,” Carter said.

Sears said Carter has been an invaluable leader in helping him in his first season as Hornets coach.

“He’s set the bar, set the standard, and he’s set it very high,” Sears said. “We remind the players, there’s your leader, there’s your example. Follow him and we’ll be just fine.”

Coast-bound Aggies – UC Davis will finish its season with two rivalry games.

Before hosting the 61st annual Causeway game, the Aggies will play at Cal Poly (6-4, 5-2) Saturday in the annual Battle for the Golden Horseshoe, the 37th consecutive season the two stellar academic schools have played each other. The Aggies (1-8, 0-6) lead the series 19-18-2 but have lost the past two meetings.

“Every year when we talk goals, that’s one of the first goals that comes out of their mouths,” Cal Poly coach Tim Walsh said of his players. “We want to keep the horseshoe in San Luis Obispo this year. So I’m sure Davis wants it back. That’s what makes rivalry games such great football games.”

Said UCD coach Ron Gould: “Our guys understand the meaning behind the horseshoe, but it’s not just about the players. It’s about the alumni and bragging rights in California.…We recruit against each other. So it’s a big deal.”

Both teams suffered tough, two-point losses last Saturday.

For the second week in a row, quarterback Ben Scott was intercepted late while trying to drive the Aggies to a potential game-winning field goal or touchdown against No. 22 Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. The Lumberjacks’ Blake Bailey picked off Scott’s pass at midfield with 1:11 to play to preserve a 23-21 victory.

Cal Poly suffered a 30-28 loss at Idaho State that snapped the Mustangs’ five-game win streak and knocked them out of a first-place tie in the Big Sky. It also cost Cal Poly, ranked No. 21 entering the Idaho State game, its top-25 FCS ranking, if not a shot at the playoffs.

Still, the Mustangs and their triple-option offense lead the FCS in rushing yards at 358.2 yards per game behind dual-threat quarterback Chris Brown. He has rushed for 1,148 yards and has scored a Big Sky-best 15 touchdowns. He’s also thrown for 10 touchdowns.

UCD has shown some offensive firepower behind Scott, now-healthy running back Gabe Manzanares and red-hot receiver Ramon Vargas. A youthful defense also continues to show improvement since UCD’s 77-37 loss Oct. 11 to No. 12 Montana State.

But the injury woes continue for the Aggies. Senior free safety Charles Boyett, who missed four games because of an ankle injury earlier in the season, suffered a season-ending knee injury against Northern Arizona.

Tumey not a candidate – UC Davis athletics director Terry Tumey said he is not a candidate for the Fresno State athletic director’s job.

The Fresno Bee reported Sunday that Tumey was among at least five athletic administrators linked to replacing former Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh.

“There is no truth to the rumor at this point in time,” Tumey said. “I haven’t been contacted to be a candidate.”

Tumey is in his second year at UC Davis.

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

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