The Sacramento State Hornets defeated the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos over the weekend in the Hornets’ final home match of the season, 52-25, in front of hundreds of hometown fans and alumni at California State University Sacramento.
After a season filled with ups and downs, the Hornets were thrilled to have a victory in their final home match of the 2013 season, and did so in style by running in eight tries. The game was headlined as Senior Day, and the Hornets graduating class was recognized prior to the game as they were escorted onto the field by family and friends.
“I am very proud of the guys today,” stated Sacramento State Head Coach Adam Macrae. “UCSB is a very talented team. The game was a lot closer than the score suggests.”
“Santa Barbara was a tough team and challenged us at the breakdown and in the scrum. They are well-coached and we had to battle hard the entire 80 minutes,” commented Hornet senior flyhalf Jim Brecher. “We’ve been through a lot this season, and it was nice to have things finally start to click. The guys played great defense and were always in support on offense. It was a great feeling to get this win at home with our friends and family there to cheer us on.”
Sacramento State ran hard from the opening whistle dotting down four times in the first half. Hornet inside center, Brian Royal, notched two tries in the opening minutes. Both Sacramento wings, Chris Bempong and Ishmael Pruitt, added to the Hornet backline effort with a try apiece in the first half. Hornet center Eric Hernandez was three for four on conversions.
The Gauchos' flyhalf contributed all of the first half points for UCSB with two penalty kicks and an unconverted try in the first half. The Hornets led 26-11 at the break.
The Hornets kept their foot on the gas and added four more tries in the second half. The Hornets have been striving this season to keep momentum on offense throughout the entire 80 minutes, and Saturday’s game showed the Hornets could spin the ball wide and run hard lines with players supporting and catching off-loads to keep plays alive. The Hornet forwards got involved with flanker Colin Scott and lock Stevie Zimmermann both finding the try zone. Hornet Wing Ishmael Pruitt would score his second try of the game as well in the second half.
The Gauchos managed to score two more converted tries but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome Sac State’s momentum. Hornet fly-half Jim Brecher side-stepped his way through the Gaucho defense to seal the deal with a try in the 80th minute. Erik Hernandez was 6-8 on conversion kicks on the day, and the Hornets emerged victorious with the final score 52-25.
“It has been a very tough season with four of our five losses coming from teams ranked in the top 15,” said Macrae of the Hornets' difficult 2013 schedule. Our goal is to get better each and every week and I think the boys have achieved that ability to raise the standard as the season progresses. We will continue to strive to play fast, fun, exciting rugby in the future and we really appreciate all of the support from family, friends, and alumni who came out to support us over the weekend.”
The Hornets have one final game to close out the 2013 season in the annual Causeway Classic against cross-town rivals UC Davis. Davis had the upper hand and defeated the Hornets in their preseason matchup last fall, but the two teams know each other well and always step up the physicality when they meet on the rugby field. Regardless of the outcome, neither team will be eligible for the post season, so expect both sides to leave everything on the field for pride and a chance to one up the other in the final league standings.
The Causeway Classic is scheduled for 1PM this Saturday at the UC Davis rugby pitch. If the Hornets win this game with a bonus point, they could solidify fourth place in D-1A California Conference.