Travels, trials and triumphs

Standing between Sacramento State and the FCS semifinals is Lindsey Scott Jr. The Incarnate Word quarterback has thrown for 4,185 yards and 55 touchdowns this season. Sacramento State’s tag team of Jake Dunniway and Asher O’Hara has combined for 2,904 yards and 27 touchdowns. Let’s just say Scott will have an advantage when the two teams clash in a quarterfinal game at Hornet Stadium.

Incarnate Word is the No. 7 seed and pulled out a 41-38 victory against Furman last week. Kole Wilson turned a pass from Scott into a 32-yard touchdown with 1:54 left to lift the Cardinals (11-1). Sacramento State (12-0) is the No. 2 seed and needed O’Hara’s 51-yard scoring pass to Pierre Williams with 6:28 left to beat Richmond 38-31. Dunniway threw for a season-high 317 yards and three scores.

Scott has also traveled much more than Dunniway or O’Hara. Dunniway is a Tracy High graduate who redshirted at UC Davis in 2017 and then played one season at San Diego Mesa Community College before coming to Sacramento. O’Hara played one season at College of DuPage, which is near his hometown of Rolling Meadows, Ill., and then transferred to Middle Tennessee State before coming to California.

Lindsey Scott Jr. has thrown 55 touchdown passes this season.

They have nothing on Scott, the Louisiana native who redshirted at LSU in 2016. He played one season at East Mississippi Community College and then transferred to Missouri, where he did not play. His next stop was Nicholls State, but he could not play in 2019 because of the NCAA transfer rules. Scott started for the Colonels in the spring of 2021 (which did not count against his eligibility) and last fall before coming to Incarnate Word as a graduate transfer.

Scott has also rushed for 466 yards and seven touchdowns, so he has accounted for 76 percent (62 of 81) of Incarnate Word’s touchdowns this season. Sacramento State can counter with O’Hara, who has run for 850 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was the Hornets’ leading rusher against Richmond with 53 yards on 15 carries. Sacramento State was held to a season-high 72 yards rushing last Saturday.

Sacramento State had to shuffle its offensive line because left tackle Troy Stiefel was sidelined with an injury. Left guard Jackson Slater moved to left tackle, right guard Brandon Weldon switched to left guard and Kenndel Riley started at right guard. Stiefel did not practice this week, so it is unlikely he will be available.

Cameron Skattebo had his worst game of the season with 21 yards on nine carries. The sophomore was named the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year after leading the conference in rushing yards with 1,251. The Hornets are averaging 235.8 yards per game on the ground and had a season-high 472 yards of total offense against Richmond. Incarnate Word averages 585 yards of total offense.

Incarnate Word had 613 yards against Furman with Scott accounting for 518 (394 passing and a season-high 124 rushing). He tossed five touchdown passes, his seventh game with five or more this season.

Big Sky pie for Hornets, Aggies

Sacramento State and UC Davis had 33 reasons to give thanks Wednesday when the All-Big Sky Conference team was announced. The Hornets set a school record with 18 players honored, which was fitting given that Sacramento State was 8-0 in the Big Sky and will take an 11-0 record into the FCS playoffs as the No. 2 seed. The Aggies had 15 players selected after a 6-5 season that fell short of the postseason and expectations.

Sacramento State earned two of the top four honors with running back Cameron Skattebo and linebacker Marte Mapu being named the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively. This was the first time that one team swept the awards since 2012. Troy Taylor shared the Coach of the Year award with Brett Vigen of Montana State, which was also 8-0 in the Big Sky and is the No. 4 seed in the playoffs with a 10-1 record. Taylor was lauded for the third time in as many seasons with the Hornets.

Linebacker Armon Bailey joined Mapu on the first-team defense. Bailey leads the Hornets in tackles (78) and sacks (six), a testament to the Vanden High graduate’s perseverance after missing nine games in 2021 and five in 2019 with injuries. Sacramento State did not play in the spring of 2021 after COVID-19 forced the 2020 season to be postponed.

Other first-team selections for the Hornets were wide receiver Pierre Williams, tight end Marshel Martin, guards Jackson Slater and Brandon Weldon, kicker Kyle Sentkowski and Asher O’Hara as the all-purpose player.

UC Davis had six players selected to the first-team – quarterback Miles Hastings, running back Ulonzo Gilliam, tackle Nick Amoah, defensive end Zach Kennedy, safety Rex Connors and special teamer Lan Larison. Hastings led the conference in passing yards (3,048) and completion percentage (69.8) in his first season as the full-time starter. The sophomore threw six interceptions in 367 passing attempts this season after being picked off eight times in 215 attempts last season, when he started five games.