Defense Steals the Show in Victory

Clifton Smith/(

Tom Brandstater threw for 199 yards and Clifton Smith ran for a 30-yard touchdown in the 24-3 victory Saturday night. But the Bulldog defense was on a mission, limiting Sacramento State to 102 yards of total offense.

The Bulldog offense sputtered early and fumbled four times losing three. However, the defense came to play holding Sacramento State to just 10 first downs and 3 of 14 conversion rate on third down.

Tom Brandstater's 27-yard first quarter touchdown pass to Bear Pascoe started the scoring. The Hornets answered back with a 21-yard FG, their only points of the night. Lonyae Miller capped the first half scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run giving the Bulldogs a 14-3 lead they would take into halftime.

Fresno State was driving for another score just before the half but Marlon Moore fumbled the ball at goal line as tried to stretch the ball over the plane. Brandstater scrambled 16 yards in side the 10 on 3rd-and-long, setting up the pass to Moore.

With David Carr in attendance to have his jersey retired, Brandstater was expected to have a career game against FCS opponent Sacramento State. He was only a few yards from breaking his career high while he completed 16 of 27 passes with no interceptions and the one touchdown pass. Meanwhile, Pascoe finished with a team high 91 yards receiving off three catches and a score. Moore led all-receivers with seven receptions for 70 yards.

The Bulldogs displayed a balanced attack rushing for 266 yards against a decent Hornet defense. True freshman Ryan Mathews led all rushers with 77 yard on 11 carries. He had 54-yard run negated by a holding call in the fourth quarter. Starting tailback Lonyae Miller rushed for 58 yards on 14 carries in just over a half of play. He tweaked his ankle early in the second half and did not return.

Sacramento State could not get anything going on offense. First-year starting QB Jason Smith passed for only 60 yards on 13 of 23 passing and was sacked twice. Former Fresno City College running back Travon Jones led the Hornets rushing attack with 49 yards.

Clifton Smith played a significant role on offense for the first time in his career. He rushed for 50 yards including the 30-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and had 25 yards receiving. Prior to Saturday night's game, Smith had only two rushes and one reception in his Bulldog career for less than 20 yards total.

Despite being forced to punt a whopping eight times, the Hornets were able to keep Smith at bay as a punt returner. In Smith's only punt return with substantial yardage, he fumbled and the Hornets recovered.

Clint Stitser added the final points of the evening with a career long 47-yard FG.

Trevor Shamblee made his return after suffering a season-ending injury last year vs. Louisiana Tech. He had a sack for a 13-yard loss. Ikenna Ike recorded the Bulldogs' only other sack on third-and-long during Sacramento State's first possession of the game. Recommended Stories