Sacramento State Hornets football

American football team of California State University, Sacramento
   Fight songFight, Hornet, Fight!MascotHerky the HornetMarching bandSacramento State Marching

The Sacramento State Hornets football program is the intercollegiate American football team for the California State University, Sacramento located in Sacramento, California. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Big Sky Conference. The school's first football team was fielded in 1954. The team plays its home games at the 21,195-seat Hornet Stadium.


In 1954, Dave Strong was named the first football coach for the Hornets football program. The program's first victory came in their second season, in 1955, when the Hornets defeated Southern Oregon by a point. Sacramento State was first affiliated with the Northern California Athletic Conference, from 1954 through 1984; the conference was known as the Far Western Conference until 1982. The Hornets were then members of the Western Football Conference from 1985 through 1992. In 1993, Sacramento State move the American West Conference, and then to the Big Sky Conference in 1996.[2] Hornet Stadium has been home to the football team since 1969.

Past success and notable games

The Hornets have participated in two bowl games, the Pasadena Bowl in 1968 against Grambling State, where the Hornets lost, 34–7, and the Camellia Bowl in 1964, where Montana State defeated the Hornets, 28–7.

One of Sac State's most notable wins came on September 3, 2011, in the season opener against the Oregon State Beavers of the Pac-12 Conference at Reser Stadium. The Hornets upset the Beavers in overtime, 29–28 with a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Jeff Flemming to wide receiver Brandyn Reed, beating an AQ conference team for the first time in school history in front of an announced crowd of 41,581. The Beavers were a 23-point favorite coming into the game. Four weeks after the win over Oregon State, the Hornets defeated FCS national power Montana, the program's first win ever over the Grizzlies, on September 24, 2011. Hornets defeated the then No. 10 ranked Grizzlies by a score of 42–28 in Hornet Stadium.

On September 8, 2012, Sac State defeated Colorado Buffaloes of the Pac-12 conference, at Folsom Field as 20-point underdogs.[3] Colorado jumped to an early 14–0 start but the Hornets quickly answered back with a pair of touchdown passes from Hornets quarterback Garrett Safron and a 2-yard rushing touchdown by A.J. Ellis to lead 21–14 over the Buffaloes.[4] Sac State led 24–21 during intermission. With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and down 28–27, Hornet's walk-on kicker, Edgar Castenada, made the 31-yard field goal winning kick for a final score of 30–28. After the game, Hornets head coach Marshall Sperbeck announced in the locker room that Sacramento State has offered Castendada a scholarship. This marked a consecutive year in which Sac State faced an AQ conference school (both in the Pac-12 conference) as heavy underdogs on the road and walked out with victories.

The Sacramento State football team were ranked for the first time ever in school history at the end of the 2019 season when they placed No. 3 nationally in both the STATS and the Coaches polls. Sacramento State was also ranked as the No. 4 team in the 2019 NCAA Division I FCS playoff bracket, receiving a first-week bye in their road to the finals. The 2019 season was a major milestone in the teams' history as the season brought Sacramento State its first-ever Big Sky Conference Championship, its fifth conference title overall, and its first-ever appearance in the FCS playoffs. Prior to the 2019 season, Sacramento State was never ranked at the end of any season but had won four conference titles.

The Sacramento State football team would set numerous school records for the 2022 season. On September 24, 2022, the Hornets defeated Colorado State 41–10 at Canvas Stadium, making this their largest victory by margin over an FBS team. The 2022 team went on to go undefeated in the regular season for the first time in school history, finishing 11–0, alongside setting a record for most wins in a season at 12. The team also achieved the highest rankings in the major FCS polls, reaching as high as No. 2 in both the STATS and the Coaches Polls. They would set a school record for highest attendance for a football game, winning the Causeway Classic over UC Davis 27–21 in their regular season home finale with an official crowd of 23,073. They also clinched their first FCS playoff victory over Richmond in the NCAA Division I Second Round.

Classification history

Conference affiliations


Conference championships

Year Coach Conference Overall record Conference record
1964 Ray Clemons Far Western Conference 8–2–1 4–0–1
1966 8–2 6–0
1986 Bob Mattos Western Football Conference 6–4–1 5–1
1995 John Volek American West Conference 4–6–1 3–0
2019 Troy Taylor Big Sky Conference 9–4 7–1
2021 9–3 8–0
2022 12–1 8–0

Postseason results

Division II playoffs

The Hornets made one appearance in the Division II Playoffs. Their record was 2–1.

Year Round Opponent Result
1988 First Round
UC Davis
North Carolina Central
North Dakota State
W, 35–14
W, 56–7
L, 20–42

Division I FCS playoffs

The Hornets have made four appearances in the FCS Playoffs, with a combined record of 2–4.

Year Round Opponent Result
2019 Second Round Austin Peay L, 28–42
2021 Second Round South Dakota State L, 19–24
2022 Second Round
Incarnate Word
W, 38–31
L, 63–66
2023 First Round
Second Round
North Dakota
South Dakota
W, 42–35
L, 24–34

Bowl games

Season Bowl Opponent Result
1964 Camellia Bowl Montana State L, 7–28
1968 Pasadena Bowl Grambling State L, 7–34

Home stadiums

  • 1955-1958
Grant Stadium -Sacramento, CA
Capacity (8,000)

  • 1954, 1959-1968
Hughes Stadium -East Sacramento, CA
Capacity (20,311)

Charles C. Hughes Stadium (commonly referred to as Hughes Stadium) is an outdoor stadium located at Sacramento City College. The stadium opened in 1928 and was initially known as Sacramento Stadium and Sacramento College Stadium.[5]

Hughes Stadium

It was renamed in November 1944 in honor of Charles Colfax Hughes, the first superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District, who died a month earlier.[6][7] In 2012, the stadium underwent a major overhaul, installing an artificial turf field surface, a new track surface, and a major refurbishment of the facilities documented in this video. Its present seating capacity is 20,311.

  • 1969-current
Hornet Stadium -Sacramento, CA
Capacity (21,195)

Fred Anderson Field at Hornet Stadium is a 21,195-seat college football and track stadium on the campus of California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State).[8] It opened 54 years ago on September 20, 1969, it has also been the home stadium of the Sacramento Surge of the WLAF,[9] the Sacramento Gold Miners of the Canadian Football League[10] and the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. It hosted the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field in 2000 and 2004.

Fred Anderson Field – Home grandstand

Its alignment is nearly north-south, offset slightly northwest, and the street-level elevation is approximately 35 feet (11 m) above sea level. The field was natural grass for its first 41 seasons; FieldTurf was installed in 2010. In 1998, Permanent chairbacks were installed in Section 213 at the 50–yard line. In 2000 The stadium underwent a $1 million improvement in preparation for the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials; An Olympic–sized track was installed surrounding the field as well as a practice track north of the stadium.[11] In 2003 New scoreboard installed. In 2007 new public entrances were installed. IN 2008 Broad Fieldhouse opened, which included new offices, locker rooms, athletic training room, weight room and a VIP patio. In 2010 natural grass was replaced by FieldTurf Duraspine Pro, "The Well" opened next to the north end zone which provided paved areas for concessions and a Jumbotron was added below the scoreboard. On July 17, 1993, it was the site of the first regular season Canadian Football League (CFL) game ever played on American soil, where the Calgary Stampeders defeated the Gold Miners 38–36. Fred Anderson Field also hosted the largest crowd ever to witness an event at Fred Anderson Field was when the Sacramento Surge defeated the Barcelona Dragons in the World League playoffs on May 30, 1992 in front of 26,445 fans. The largest Sacramento State football crowd occurred on November 19, 2022 when 23,073 fans saw the Hornets complete an 11-0 season with a 27-21 victory over UC Davis in the Causeway Classic[12]


UC Davis

The Hornets plays the rival UC Davis Aggies, annually and usually the last game of the regular season. This rivalry game is known as The Causeway Classic, and each team competes for the Causeway Trophy, referring to the fact that the schools are connected by the long Yolo Causeway bridge over Yolo Bypass flood way. UC Davis leads the series 46–23. This game has drawn crowds up to 23,000 in the Hornet Stadium, and is widely popular in the local area.

Cal Poly

"Green and Gold Rivalry"

While not commemorated with a trophy, Cal Poly and Sacramento State are designated as 'protected rivals' in scheduling by the Big Sky Conference, meaning they are guaranteed to play each other in foreseeable schedules.[13] From 1967 to 2023, the Mustangs and Hornets have met 42 times, with the series tied, 21–21

Other notable rivalries includes Portland State, Eastern Washington, Weber State, the Montana schools, Montana, Montana State and Big Sky conference foes. Also, regional rival Pacific before they discontinued their football program in 1995.

Head coaches

Coach Tenure Record Pct.
Dave Strong 1954–1956 4–18–1 .196
Johnny Baker 1957–1960 15–22 .405
Ray Clemons 1961–1975 70–76–3 .480
Glenn Brady 1976–1977 2–18–1 .119
Bob Mattos 1978–1992 84–73–2 .535
Mike Clemons 1993–1994 9–11 .450
John Volek 1995–2002 31–57–1 .354
Steve Mooshagian 2003–2006 11–33 .250
Marshall Sperbeck 2007–2013 35–44 .443
Jody Sears 2014–2018 20–35 .364
Troy Taylor 2019–2022 30–8 .811
Andy Thompson 2023–present 8–5 .615

College Football Hall of Fame

College Football Hall of Fame
Name Position Year Inducted Ref
Ken O'Brien QB 1978 1997 [14]

National Award winners

Eddie Robinson Award
Year Name Position
2019 Troy Taylor Coach

The Eddie Robinson Award is awarded annually to college football's top head coach in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). It was established in 1987.

Past Hornets in the NFL


Notable former players

Notable alumni include:


  1. ^ "Sacramento State Colors". Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  2. ^ "Sacramento State Football Record Book" (PDF). Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  3. ^ Contreras, Victor (September 10, 2012). "Leading Off: Sac State's upset will mean nothing with a loss". The Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012.
  4. ^ Stapleton, Arnie (September 8, 2012). "Sacramento State upsets Colorado 30–28 on late FG". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  5. ^ "Colleges To Compete in Sacramento Stadium". The Sutter Independent. Yuba City, California. November 8, 1928. p. 5. Retrieved April 30, 2022 – via Open access icon.
  6. ^ "College Stadium Is Named For Charles C. Hughes". The Sacramento Bee. Sacramento, California. October 19, 1928. p. 28. Retrieved April 30, 2022 – via Open access icon.
  7. ^ "Sacramento City Unified School District". Archived from the original on September 18, 2006. Retrieved November 8, 2009.
  8. ^ "Hornet Stadium". Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  9. ^ "Machine at Surge". The Sacramento Bee. April 4, 1992. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  10. ^ "The Sacramento Gold Miners' 1994 Season". Canadian Football League Database. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  11. ^ The History of the Olympic Trials, published by USATF
  12. ^ Davidson, Joe. "A Causeway Classic: Record crowd sees Sac State beat rival UC Davis for Big Sky three-peat". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  13. ^ [email protected], FRANK GOGOLA Missoulian. "Montana, Montana State get new protected rivals in Big Sky Conference play for 2022-24 seasons". 406 MT SPORTS. Retrieved 2022-06-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "Inductee | Kenneth John O'Brien, Jr. 1997 | College Football Hall of Fame".
  15. ^ "Sacramento St. Players/Alumni".

External links

  • Official website Edit this at Wikidata
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Big Sky Conference football
Championships and awards
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