College football: Sacramento State rallies to win at Southern Utah
Lamb says crushing loss eliminates team from postseason play.
Published: October 6, 2012 10:23PM
Updated: October 20, 2012 05:42PM

Cedar City • Southern Utah’s first three losses this season — against Utah State, California and Montana State — were understandable.

Sacramento State’s 27-22 victory over the Thunderbirds on Saturday is far more difficult to explain.

While the Hornets own a win over Colorado, they also struggled against Big Sky Conference bottom-feeders Idaho State and Northern Colorado.

Southern Utah could not stop Sacramento State in the second half, however, and the result was a crushing defeat that coach Ed Lamb admits eliminated the Thunderbirds from Big Sky and postseason contention.

“This is going to hurt,” he said. “We expected to compete for a championship and playoff spot and, at this point, both of those are done.”

Southern Utah, 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the Big Sky, scored 10 points in the final 53 seconds of the first half to build a 16-7 lead.

Sacramento State recovered, though, when quarterback Garrett Safron ran 68 yards for a touchdown on the Hornets’ first possession of the third quarter.

“I thought we had a controlling lead,” Lamb said. “But that [run] changed the whole dynamic of the game. It ignited their sideline. Credit their quarterback for running away from our defense.”

SUU quickly regained a 22-14 lead, but Sacramento State stayed close on Safron’s eight-yard touchdown run.

Then, with 9:18 left, the Hornets took the lead on A.J. Ellis’ two-yard touchdown. They converted three third-downs on the 80-yard drive.

Still, the Thunderbirds had a chance.

Griff McNab’s 30-yard punt return gave SUU the ball at the Sacramento State 49. Three plays gained only four yards, however, and Lamb decided to punt with 4:25 left.

“I didn’t want to risk putting our defense on a short field,” he said.

SUU got the ball back on its own 18 with 2:12 remaining. But the Thunderbirds had used their three time-outs and the final drive ended when quarterback Brad Sorensen’s arm was hit and his third-down pass was intercepted.

Sorensen finished 20-for-32 for 327 yards, but he was 2-for-7 for four yards in the fourth quarter.

“I think I was hanging onto the ball too long,” he said. “Maybe my eyes were looking in the wrong spot.”

luhm@sltrib.com

Highlights

R Southern Utah squanders a 16-7 halftime lead and Sacramento State scores a 27-22 victory.

• Hornets’ quarterback Garrett Safron ignites the rally with an 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

• SUU quarterback Brad Sorensen completes 20 of 32 passes for 327 yards and one touchdown.

Sacramento State 27, Southern Utah 22

Sacramento St. 7 0 13 7 — 27

S. Utah 3 13 6 0 — 22

First Quarter

SUt • FG Cook 33, 9:27.

Sac • Norrise 23 pass from Safron (Castaneda kick), 4:07.

Second Quarter

SUt • FG Cook 18, 12:14.

SUt • McNabb 28 pass from Sorensen (Cook kick), :53.

SUt • FG Cook 43, :00.

Third Quarter

Sac • Safron 63 run (Castaneda kick), 13:40.

SUt • Wilson 1 run (kick failed), 8:58.

Sac • Safron 8 run (pass failed), 3:55.

Fourth Quarter

Sac • Ellis 2 run (Castaneda kick), 9:18.

Attendance • 3,766.

Sac SUt

First downs 18 16

Rushes-yards 38-158 30-61

Passing 192 327

Comp-Att-Int 21-29-2 20-32-1

Return Yards 16 63

Punts-Avg. 4-48.8 4-38.5

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0

Penalties-yards 7-35 4-35

Time of Possession 30:10 29:50

Individual Statistics

Rushing • Sacramento St., Safron 12-91, Graham 15-48, Coleman 3-14,

Ellis 5-8, Team 3-(minus 3). S. Utah, Wilson 17-47,

Crawford-Harris 6-18, H.Brown 1-2, Ika 2-1, Sorensen 4-(minus 7).

Passing • Sacramento St., Safron 21-29-2-192. S. Utah,

Sorensen 20-32-1-327.

Receiving • Sacramento St., Knowles 4-29, Robertson 4-23,

Norrise 3-59, Graham 3-27, Coleman 2-27, Dotson 2-12, Harrison 2-9,

Ellis 1-6. S. Utah, Jessop 6-115, McNabb 4-51, H.Brown 2-75,

Pedersen 2-31, Crawford-Harris 2-22, C..Morgan 2-14, Moala 1-15, Ika 1-4.