SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw for 255 yards and one touchdown and ran for another score to lead Sacramento State to a 27-16 victory over Southern Oregon on Saturday.
Evander Wilkins rushed for 164 yards on 23 carries and Jake Croxdale gained 109 yards for the Hornets, who amassed 535 yards in total offense, the most since beating Idaho State on Sept. 27, 2003. Tony Washington had nine catches for 159 yards and one touchdown for Sacramento State, which built a 21-3 halftime lead and used Juan Gamboa's two field goals in the second half.
A sophomore transfer from UCLA who was starting in place of injured Jason Smith, Bethel-Thompson completed 19 of 32 passes to help the Hornets improve their record to 2-1, their best start since opening the 2001 season with a similar mark.
Bryan Lee-Lauduski completed 16 of 24 passes for 231 yards and a pair of TDs for Southern Oregon (1-2), which lost its second straight game.
Southern Oregon opened the second half with a long scoring drive culminated by Lee-Lauduski's 29-yard pass to Darryl Price. Late in the third quarter after a fumble recovery by Damario Watson at the Hornets 13, Lee-Lauduski found Brandon Stout for a 13-yard score, cutting the Hornets lead to 24-16.
The Hornets scored twice in a 29-second span in the second quarter to build a 21-3 lead. Bethel-Thompson ran untouched for a 7-yard TD and after Kevin Moore recovered a Raiders fumble, Wilkins scored from the 9 on the next play to put the Hornets ahead at the 10:24 mark in the second quarter.
The effective running of Croxdale set up Sacramento State's first score, Bethel-Thompson's 22-yard pass to Ron Richardson, helping the Hornets assume a 7-0 lead with midway through the first quarter.
The Hornets received a break early in the first quarter when Sunni Ali intercepted a tipped pass and ran 85 yards. Appearing to be headed for a touchdown, Ali had the ball knocked out of his hands by Tony Washington and it rolled into the end zone for a touchback.