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College football: Sacramento State rallies to win at Southern Utah

Published October 6, 2012 10:23 pm

Lamb says crushing loss eliminates team from postseason play.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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.