Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hornets stun Pac-12 foe for second straight year - Sacramento Bee

BOULDER, Colo. â€" Austin Dotson did cartwheels at midfield. Garrett Safron did his version of the Lambeau Leap.

All over Folsom Field, the Sacramento State Hornets ran around as if they owned the place.

Saturday, they did.

For the second straight season, the Hornets pulled off a stunner against a Pacific-12 Conference team. Edgar Castaneda kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired as Sac State rallied to upset Colorado 30-28 in front of a hushed, shocked crowd in Boulder.

"It hasn't hit me yet," Safron said. "I'm trying to take it all in, but it's a great feeling."

The Hornets had the same feeling last year after shocking host Oregon State 29-28 in overtime in a season opener.

Castaneda, who helped City College of San Francisco win the community college national championship last season,, capped a 72-yard drive with his first game-winning kick at any level.

After the game, Hornets coach Marshall Sperbeck rewarded his walk-on kicker with a scholarship.

Castaneda, who was 3 for 3 in field-goal attempts, said he didn't have butterflies before the biggest kick of his life.

"I was relaxed. I was calm," he said. "I wasn't paying attention to, 'Oh, it's a game-winning field goal.' It's just another kick."

When it sailed through the uprights, the Hornets (1-1) swarmed the field in celebration. Then they went to the Sac State fans in the stands, sang the school fight song and received plenty of congratulatory hugs and shoulder slaps.

"Coming into the game, we were underdogs, and when you're underdogs and come out on top, that's exciting," wide receiver Morris Norrise said.

It took a little work to get there. Trailing 28-27, Sac State got the ball at its own 15-yard line with 2:26 left. Safron, who threw for a career-high 312 yards on 25 of 37 passing, started carving up the Buffaloes' defense. He hit Norrise for 10 yards and DeAndre Carter for 20 and got help from two pass-interference penalties.

"Whenever we can gain yards, it's a big plus," Safron said.

After the second penalty put the Hornets at the Buffaloes' 28, Safron hit Norrise over the middle for 11 yards. Colorado (0-2) burned its timeouts trying to preserve precious seconds, but Safron set the ball in the middle of the field with one second left.

Castaneda did the rest.

"Obviously, we wanted to score, but we knew a field goal would do it," Sperbeck said. "We felt if we could get inside the 25, we had a good shot at it. Garrett put us in a drive that last series and did a good job."

The outcome was unlikely after the way the Buffaloes started the game. Freshman Christian Powell scored on a 64-yard run on the third play from scrimmage and again from one yard to cap a 72-yard drive that gave Colorado a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

"A lot of times you get into the first part of the game, it takes time to get used to the speed and size of these types of teams," Sperbeck said. "Once we settled down and got comfortable with the speed of the game, we were OK."

Safron guided the Hornets to the next 21 points, hitting DeAndre Carter for an 11-yard touchdown and Chris Broadnax for a 35-yard score sandwiched around A.J. Ellis' two-yard touchdown run.

After Colorado tied the score on Jordan Webb's nine-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Slavin with 2:44 left in the half, Castaneda connected on a 28-yard field goal that gave Sac State a 24-21 halftime lead.

Powell's one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put the Buffaloes ahead 28-24. Castaneda's 31-yard field goal with 11:57 to play brought the Hornets within one, and when they regained possession with 2:26 to go, Safron gave the offense a pep talk.

"I gathered around the offense and told them, 'It's go time," he said. "We've got to win it right here, right now.' That's what we did."

Even Sperbeck was a bit stunned.

"I'm kind of speechless after a day like today," he said. "It's a great day for Sac State."

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