Four points may have made all the difference in the football world for Sacramento State last Dec. 9 in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. Settling for a field goal after reaching Incarnate Word’s 5-yard line in the second quarter was costly.
Two running plays resulted in a loss of 2 yards, leaving the Hornets with one play to score a touchdown on third-and-goal at the 7. Running back Marcus Fulcher made it 12 yards to go with a false start penalty.
The worst infraction for Fulcher came on third down. An opportunity to get a touchdown ended when Fulcher let a pass from Jake Dunniway slip through his hands. Fulcher was as open as a 24-hour convenience store and could have strolled to the end zone.
Kyle Sentkowski’s 30-yard field goal put the Hornets ahead 17-14. The lead did not last long. The Cardinals scored two touchdowns in the last five minutes of the first half to take a 28-17 lead to the locker room.
Halftime gave Fulcher a few minutes to decide whether he was going to allow one bad play to derail him. The junior had a productive first half with four carries for 51 yards and two receptions for 21 yards. His 35-yard touchdown run in the first quarter ended with Fulcher swiping a beverage from a fan at the north end of the field.
After he realized the beverage was beer, Fulcher pretended to take a drink before returning the plastic cup to the fan. He handled the cup much better than he did the pass from Dunniway that left the Hornets thristing for seven points.
Incarnate Word won 66-63, so four points could have resulted in Sacramento State hosting a semifinal game against North Dakota State. A victory would have also delayed head coach Troy Taylor’s departure to Stanford.
No one needs to remind Fulcher about all that. He has not forgotten and likely never will because of the lesson he learned from adversity.
“Me getting down on myself at that moment would have made it worse. You have to bounce back and be mature,” Fulcher said. “You have to own up to it and look in the mirror. You’re not just playing for yourself. I’ve got my parents watching me and my family watching me.”
Disappointment has turned into determination for Fulcher in 2023. He is the No. 1 running back at long last and proved himself worthy in last Saturday’s 38-24 win over Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound Fulcher ran for 71 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 17 yards.
Fulcher climbed atop the depth after Cameron Skattebo transferred to Arizona State. Skattebo also ran for 71 yards and scored a touchdown last Saturday in his debut with the Sun Devils, who held off Southern Utah for a 24-21 victory.
“Being No. 1 is what I’ve dreamed of,” Fulcher said “I’m ready for it. I feel like it’s time. I feel like no one can stop us.”
Texas A&M-Commerce will try its luck at containing Sacramento State at 7 p.m. Saturday at Hornet Stadium. The Lions had little luck against UC Davis last week, allowing 279 yards on the ground in a 48-10 loss.
Taking the Lions for granted would be a mistake, Fulcher said, because one play can turn the tide in any game. He knows that all too well.
Kyle Sentkowski’s 30-yard field goal broke a 14-all tie, but the Hornets did not have the lead for long. The Cardinals scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the first half to take a 28-17 lead to the locker room.