SACRAMENTO, Calif. – For a regular-season win in Week 8 of the college football season, this one clearly meant a lot for Sacramento State.
And it showed following the No. 15 Hornets’ 49-22 Homecoming win over No. 5 Montana on Saturday night. Players danced on the sideline, fans stayed in their seats long after the final buzzer and fireworks rang out over Hornet stadium.
All Montana head coach Bobby Hauck could do was sit and watch.
“You saw the post-game celebration, this is the Super Bowl here,” he said. “And we didn’t play well enough to be in it.”
Jerry Louie-McGee scored the first points of the game, taking a handoff in the backfield and sprinting 64 yards to the end zone to give UM a 7-0 lead.
That turned out to be one of the lone bright spots for Grizzlies, as Sac State answered with a scoring drive of its own capped off by a 44-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Thomson to Pierre Williams.
The Hornets opted to go for two and succeeded on a short plunge from tight end Marshel Martin, giving Sacramento State an 8-7 lead that it would never relinquish.
After a field goal and another touchdown put the Hornets up 18-7, Dalton Sneed found the end zone on a 19-yard run to cut the lead to 18-15. Sac State closed the half with 17 more points to make it 35-15 at the break.
Thomson was sensational again running the Hornet offense. The junior signal caller completed 24 of 34 attempts for 369 yards passing and four touchdowns. He also ran for two scores, making it the third straight week he’d had at least three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.
“They had us game planned well,” said Montana senior linebacker Dante Olson. “They have a lot of skill guys who are pretty good and we just didn’t get it done defensively when we needed to. We didn’t stop them on third downs and we didn’t win on first downs. That’s just how it goes sometimes and you got to learn.”
Montana won’t just feel this defeat in the win-loss column. Sneed, the Grizzlies' do-it-all senior quarterback, struggled against the Sac State defense, getting sacked five times and throwing two costly interceptions that each led to Hornet points.
In the third quarter, he went down with what appeared to be a right ankle injury and spent the rest of the game on the sidelines with crutches.
“I’m assuming he’ll be back, I love the dude,” Olson said. “He’s a great player and great leader and I’m hoping that would be alright.”
Coach Hauck couldn’t provide an update on Sneed’s condition after the game but said he had full confidence in backup Cam Humphrey if he has to step in on a temporary basis or long term.
Montana (5-2 overall, 2-1 Big Sky Conference) now returns home to face an Eastern Washington team (3-4, 2-1) that had championship aspirations to start the season but has since fallen out of the FCS Top 25.