One of the biggest FCS games going into this weekend was #2 Sacramento State's matchup with #5 Weber State in Ogden. The Hornets entered the game on the cusp of claiming at least a share of the Big Sky championship for the third straight year and the Wildcats were just about as good, with only one loss. Sac State, though, proved yet again why its not only the team to beat in Big Sky but is also one of the premier squads in the nation.
Multi-threat quarterback Asher O’Hara got things going for the Hornets with an impressive 88-yard scoring drive on their first possession. He ran in for a three-yard touchdown to open up the scoring.
Weber State, though, is no slouch and they answered promptly. Signal caller Bronson Barron led a long drive of his own, 16 plays into the end zone to knot things up 7-7. Barron connected with Jacob Sharp for the first Wildcats score.
With the two offenses humming early, it was evident that the defenses would have to step up and it was Weber State’s that would do so first. O'Hara began to orchestrate another threatening drive but on a fourth and short in their own territory, the Wildcats stood strong and turned the Hornets away.
Weber State was unable to do anything with the momentum, however, and had to punt shortly after.
Early in the second quarter, the Wildcats defense again came up big when they forced an uncharacteristic fumble from running back Cameron Skattebo. It appeared that WSU had visiting Sac State on their heels but just three plays after Skattebo's fumble, the Hornets forced one of their own to give their offense another chance.
This time O'Hara and company had no problem cashing in. He laced a pretty pass to tight end Marshel Martin who took it 48 yards for the go-ahead score with 8:01 in the opening half.
Things went from bad to worse for Weber State shortly following Martin’s touchdown when an errant snap went over the head of punter Jack Burgess to tack on two more for the Hornets; ugly shades of what happened four times just a few weeks ago against Montana State. Sacramento State led 16-7 at halftime.
The Wildcats started the second half by forcing a quick punt then getting a much-needed touchdown when Barron hit Justin Malone for a 14-yard strike.
Once again, though, Sac State's offense effectively killed the building energy inside Stewart Stadium with another touchdown drive, this one from their other quarterback Jake Dunniway. Dunniway delivered Martin his second touchdown of the afternoon with 6:14 remaining in the third period and the Hornets extended their lead to 23-14.
Barron picked an inopportune time to toss his first interception of the day just a few plays later. Cornerback Patrick Dean stepped in front of Barron’s pass and Sac State was rolling.
O'Hara tacked on six more early in the fourth when he leapt over the goal line on the heels of a 75-yard march. Now up 30-14, it seemed as though it was going to be a rout the rest of the way.
Even when you know it's coming, it's hard to stop. Touchdown number 16 for @AshOHara10 this season. Now solely in fourth place in school single-season history only behind Charles Roberts (2x) and Troy Mills. pic.twitter.com/Nuvi34wQuy— Sac State Football (@SacHornetsFB) November 5, 2022
Weber State continued to fight, though, and got a huge lift when return specialist Abraham Williams broke free on a 100-yard kick return to cut the deficit to 30-23. Williams now has two kickoffs ran back for a score this season.
The Hornets added a field goal to go back up 10 but the Wildcats kept clawing. In not even two minutes, the offense drove 78 yards and got a last-gasp touchdown with 16 seconds to go
It was too little too late, however, as Sacramento State held on for the narrow win, their ninth of the season. O'Hara finished the day with 162 pass yards and 81 rush yards to lead the team in both categories. He accounted for two touchdowns. Skattebo was held relatively in check with 65 yards and no scores.
On the other side, Barron threw for 153 yards and two touchdowns but had the one costly pick. Receiver Ty MacPherson led the Wildcats with seven catches for 89 yards but did not find the end zone.
Weber State falls to 7-2 on the year and loses their first game at home. They still will likely grab a playoff spot with even one more win but now it feels like they have to win both of their remaining games against Idaho State and Northern Arizona if they want a seed.
The Hornets have now taken the best shots from the best teams in the Big Sky and have come out unscathed at 9-0 on the season. Now games against Portland State and UC Davis. It appears very likely that Sac State will finish as one of the top teams in the country and thus probably receive a top seed in the tournament. Head coach Troy Taylor seems on the fast track to a third straight Big Sky title.