ST. GEORGE, Utah — Sacramento State never trailed in a season-opening 19-7 win at Dixie State on a warm Saturday evening. The Hornets controlled the ball with over 15 minutes more possession time than the Trailblazers, and also outgained DSU, 401-213.
"We hung in there the entire game," Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said. "We got a couple of turnovers on defense and I thought we played well on special teams. I'm proud of our guys. There's obviously tons of stuff we need to work on and we need to take a big jump from Week 1 to Week 2, but we'll be ready for next week."
After forcing a turnover on the opening drive of the game, Sacramento State took the ball inside the Dixie State 20, and Kyle Sentkowski eventually converted a 40-yard field to put the team on the board. The defense stretched the lead three minutes later when Josiah Erickson forced Kyle Wilstead to throw the ball away in the end zone resulting in an intentional grounding call and a safety.
The first touchdown of the game came with 10:42 left in the first half when Asher O'Hara found tight end Marshel Martin for a 2-yard completion. The touchdown pass was the first for O'Hara as a Hornet after transferring from Middle Tennessee. He split time with Jake Dunniway at quarterback, and the pair combined to complete 19 of 30 passes for 193 yards without an interception.
Dixie State narrowed the gap midway through the second quarter when Wilstead broke free up the middle for a 12-yard touchdown run. The drive was kept alive with third down conversions of 10 and 19 yards during the series.
O'Hara and Martin connected for a second time late in the third quarter. This time, O'Hara stepped to his right and found Martin running free to his left for an 11-yard TD score. Tonight marked the second time Martin has had two touchdown receptions in his career.
The Hornets controlled the ball throughout the second half and wore down Dixie State with a punishing run game which ate time off the clock. That included possessing the ball for a good chunk of the fourth quarter.
"Our guys have worked so hard," Taylor said. "Our strength and conditioning program, led by Coach Deatrick, has done a great job. Our guys were in terrific shape. It was very hot — around 96 at kickoff — but our guys were in good shape and didn't look tired."
Six Hornets caught passes in the game, led by a career high seven receptions for Martin who finished with a team-high 56 yards. Pierre Williams had three grabs for 43 yards and running backs Elijah Dotson and BJ Perkinson also had three catches each.
Perkinson led a balanced rushing attack with eight carries for 75 yards. O'Hara finished with 65 net rushing yards while Dotson had 32 yards.
Defensively, Erickson led the Hornets with five tackles and also had a tackle-for-loss. Armon Bailey led the team with two TFLs and Marcus Hawkins had an interception in the season-opening game for the second year in a row.
Sacramento State will next face 16th-ranked Northern Iowa next Saturday. The game will kick off at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at hornetsports.com by clicking here.
Troy Taylor became the fastest coach to 10 wins in program history as he earned his 10th victory in his 14th game leading the Hornets…Pierre Williams extended his consecutive game streak with at least one reception to 23 games…punter Sam Clark averaged 47.8 yards on five punts and placed four inside the 20-yard line.
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