Kevin Thomson wanted a place to play, a fresh-start reboot.
He landed with a program that dearly needed a quarterback who could play. Hello, happy marriage.
Thomson dazzled in the biggest game of his career on Saturday night, amassing 402 yards of total offense and scoring seven touchdowns for Sacramento State in a 54-27 triumph of Southern Utah in a Big Sky Conference opener.
And suddenly, the Hornets are a competitive and entertaining 2-2 behind a player no one saw coming. Thomson is on the radar now. He earned conference co-Offensive Player of the Week and STATS FCS National Player of the Week honors on Monday for his record-setting effort against a Thunderbirds program that blasted Sac State 44-0 the last time the teams met (2015).
The Hornets have already equaled its win total for each of the previous two seasons.
Thomson is a 6-foot-1 junior transfer from UNLV by way of Auburn, Wash. He has always had the knack of creating plays, by ground or air, transforming a 1-9 team into a playoff one in high school. But he was lost in the quarterback shuffle at UNLV and decided he would rather play than sit the rest of his career.
At Hornets Stadium on Saturday, Thomson took apart a defense that earlier this season held nationally ranked Northern Iowa to minus-18 yards rushing. He passed for 253 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 149 and four scores.
Only record-setting Hornets tailback Charles Roberts has rushed for more touchdowns in a single game, when the back who went by “Blink” went for five against Idaho State in 1999. Thomson’s seven total scores is a Hornets record in conference play and it tied the school record with Garrett Safron (against Southern Oregon in 2013).
And no Sac State quarterback has ever rushed for more yards in a game. But Thomson hardly fathoms what he has done.
“I’m just happy that we won the game,” he said afterward. “The stats are nice, but it’s more important that we got the dub (the win), and that’s all I care about.”
Sac State finds out just how far it has come on Saturday when it plays at perennial national-title contender Eastern Washington, led by its own quarterback marvel, Gage Gubrud. He shared Big Sky honors Monday with Thomson after passing for a school record 549 yards and accounted for five scores in 48-41 win over Montana.
Tight end city – There were three tight ends with Sacramento roots crashing into people in Berkeley on Saturday afternoon.
The happiest one played for No. 5 USC, which beat Cal 30-20.
Josh Falo is a 6-foot-6 true freshman from Inderkum High School and The Bee’s 2016 Defensive Player of the Year. Falo is even better on offense, and this includes blocking as he impressed without handling the ball.
Cal has received contributions from senior starting tight end Kyle Wells of Del Oro and true freshman Gavin Reinwald of Elk Grove.
That Falo was able to see the field this season is a testament to his talent and resolve. It appeared he may redshirt this season when he suffered a deep bone bruise in his knee during training camp. Falo missed two weeks of practice, vital for players his age.
“It was a minor setback for a major comeback,” Falo said with a laugh.
Hello, friend – The beauty of college football often includes player reunions.
Stone Smartt and Mason Hurst are true freshmen at Northern Arizona and Cal Poly, respectively. The Del Oro grads who keyed the Golden Eagles’ most recent championship seasons met after Saturday’s Big Sky contest in San Luis Obispo on Saturday.
Smartt is a reserve quarterback behind Case Cookus, who completed 35 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-10 victory. Hurst, The Bee’s Player of the Year in 2016, is redshirting as a defensive back.