October 5, 2013

Football falls to Hornets

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Despite senior quarterback Seth Lobato returning to the Northern Colorado starting lineup, the football team wasn't able to break into the win column, falling 37-21 at Sacramento State on the Hornets Homecoming.

Lobato finished the game 18-for-40 for 340 yards, the eighth time in his career he's topped 300 yards in a game.

Junior wideout Dimitri Stimphil was Lobato's favorite target, hitting him nine times for 137 yards. Senior Jace Davis also topped 100 receiving yards, catching five passes for 115 yards.

Fellow senior wideout Will Jefferson Jr., was the third Bear of the day to top 100 all-purpose yards as he ended the game with 171 total yards (100 kickoff return, 71 receiving). It is the second time this year the Bears have had three players with 100 or more all-purpose yards in a game (Langston).

The Bears had four players in double figure tackles, led by senior safety Timi Niweigha with 11. Freshman safety Taylor Risner, senior linebacker Leilon Willingham and junior linebacker Max Flores each chipped in 10, while senior linebacker Conor Sparacio recorded the team's sack.

Northern Colorado struck first as Lobato found Jefferson from 56-yards out for the 7-0 lead. The Bears drove 72 yards in just four plays for their first touchdown of the season in the first quarter.

On the ensuing drive, the Bears' defense forced a three-and-out.

After a 51-yard punt by senior Tanner Ellingsen went into the endzone, the Hornets drove the length of the field and tied the score on a 15-yard touchdown rush by DeAndre Carter to knot the score at 7-7 with 7:00 to play in the first quarter.

Sacramento State took the lead with 1:10 on the clock in the first quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Jesse Aguilar.

The Bears ran a fake field goal and completed the first down, but were called for unsportsmanlike conduct for an illegal hideout play. Jesse Holzmer, in his first collegiate action, just missed the following 49-yard field goal attempt.

A personal foul against the Bears helped the Hornets drive 68 yards in six plays for another touchdown, this one by Shane Harrison from Garrett Safron for the 17-7 advantage with 10:27 to play in the half.

Sacramento State's Carter broke two tackles to scamper into the endzone from 12 yards out on a pass from Safron to extend the lead to 24-7 with 5:09 left in the half.

Graham rushed in from three-yards out to score his third touchdown of the year and cap an eight-play 77-yard scoring drive. Falloon's kick, which came after a false start, was good, to bring the Bears within 10, 24-14.

With 17 seconds remaining in the half, the Hornets found the endzone again, this time Safron completed a pass to Cole Hikutini from 13-yards out for the 31-14 lead.

Senior linebacker Conor Sparacio recorded a huge sack on third down to force the Hornets into a punt on their first drive of the second half. The Hornets scored again on the following drive, pushing the lead to 37-14 after Robinson rushed from one-yard out.

Freshman Thomas Singleton blocked a punt late in the third-quarter, the team's first block of the season, giving the Bears possession on the 30-yard line. Lobato completed a 32-yard pass to Jace Davis on the final play of the third quarter. After an incomplete pass, Davis tipped a pass that Stimphil grabbed out of the air for a 24-yard gain. Dennis ended the drive with a one-yard touchdown rush and the Falloon kick was good to bring the score to 37-21.

The Bears continue on the road, traveling to Idaho State next Saturday for a 3:05 kickoff in Pocatello, Idaho.