SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento State rallied to take a two-point lead into halftime but No. 15 UNI responded with 27-unanswered points in the third quarter on the way to a 34-16 victory at Hornet Stadium on Saturday night.
Both teams evened their records at 1-1 on the young season.
UNI capitalized on a Hornet fumble to score the game's first points. The Panthers took over just outside the red zone and then scored on a 14-yard rush from Deion McShane to move ahead, 7-0, just under five minutes into the contest.
Sacramento State then chipped away at the deficit before taking a 9-7 lead into halftime. Kyle Sentkowski accounted for all nine points with field goals of 39, 25, and 31 yards. His final attempt came with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Both teams changed quarterbacks to start the second half and UNI immediately responded behind the arm of Theo Day. The sophomore completed both his pass attempts on his first drive for 60 yards and the drive was capped by a 1-yard plunge from Tyler Hoosman on third-and-goal.
A third Hornet turnover gave UNI the ball on the Sacramento State half of the field. The Panthers then took advantage of roughing the passer and pass interference penalties to set up a 2-yard rushing TD from McShane to extend the advantage to 21-9.
UNI kept its foot on the gas scoring touchdowns on all four of its drives in the third quarter. The third score came on a 34-yard pass to Isaiah Weston who caught the ball at the 25 yard line and then pulled away for the score. The team ended the third quarter barrage with a 9-yard strike to Quan Hampton on the left side of the end zone.
"We had a really rough third quarter," Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said. "We battled through the first half and had some good opportunities but couldn't convert in the red zone. Thank goodness for Kyle Sentkowski who's doing a great job kicking. We had the lead and the ball to start the second half and just didn't respond."
Sacramento State stopped the streak with a 5-play, 69-yard drive which was capped by an 11-yard rush from Elijah Dotson. The score was the 28th touchdown of his career and were the final points of the game.
The Hornets were plagued by costly mistakes throughout the game, finishing with six turnovers and committing seven penalties for 76 yards.
"(UNI) is a really good football team and we knew that coming in," Taylor said. "We just had too many mistakes. It's a huge learning experience for us. When you are playing a good team you can't blow opportunities and have to take care of the ball."
Asher O'Hara threw for 338 yards while completing 32-of-53 passes but did have three interceptions. O'Hara was also the team's leading rusher with 55 yards on the ground. Pierre Williams and Elijah Dotson each caught nine passes while Marshel Martin had seven. Williams led all players in the game with 122 receiving yards for his fifth career 100-yard effort.
Dom Williams paced UNI with 97 rushing yards and the Panthers averaged 5.2 yards per attempt.
Three players in the game had double-digit tackles led by 15 from UNI's Spencer Cuvelier. Korby Sander contributed 11 for the Panthers while Cameron Broussard had a career-best 10 for the Hornets.
- Pierre Williams caught a pass in the first quarter to extend his streak to 24 consecutive games with a reception. Williams had four receptions in the first quarter to move into 18th place in school history.
- Elijah Dotson also had a first-quarter reception to push his streak to 23 straight games. Dotson now has 104 receptions in his career which gives him sole possession of 11th place in school history.
- Sentkowki's three first half field goals made him the first Hornet to have at least three field goals in an entire game since Jaime Medina did it at UC Davis on Nov. 19, 2016.
- After recording six sacks in the opening game against Dixie State, Sacramento State did not record a sack against UNI.
Sacramento State at Cal
Sept. 18, 2021
ESPN 1320 AM