By Ray Hamill — There’s a sense Humboldt State is beginning to turn its season around on the football field.
The Lumberjacks followed a competitive effort at Azusa Pacific last week with an even more impressive showing at the Redwood Bowl on Saturday night, winning their final homecoming game 23-16.
Playing in front of a crowd of 5,761, the Jacks secured their first win of the campaign against a Simon Fraser team that is now 1-5.
The HSU players seemed inspired early on, perhaps feeding off the packed homecoming crowd in their final season of competing in football, opening up a 16-0 lead in the first quarter.
For a team that had struggled to move the ball much through the opening four games, the Jacks wasted little time slicing their way through the Clan defense and scoring three times before the visitors knew what had hit them.
HSU marched 70 yards on 10 plays to open the scoring midway through the period on a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Tingstad to Leo Wagner.
After a quick three-and-out for the Clan on the ensuing possession, the Jacks got the ball back and began to drive again, before stalling at the Simon Fraser 35-yard line.
Head coach Damaro Wheeler opted to punt, and HSU punter Quinn Murdy nailed his kick inside the five, with the ball downed on the one.
On the next play, the Jacks scored a safety when it seemed the entire defense got in on the end-zone tackle.
The early onslaught wasn’t done yet, and after immediately receiving the ball, the Jacks marched 48 yards on three plays, finding the end zone on a one-yard Tingstad sneak for a 16-0 lead.
A 38-yard reception from the QB to Gary O’Leary at the one-yard line set up the score.
That was the last of the scoring from the offense, but it was all the defense needed.
The Jacks did allow the Clan score a pair of TDs and a field goal, but got what would turn out to be the winning score on a third-quarter interception.
HSU’s Evan Camerena picked off Simon Fraser quarterback Miles Richardson’s pass near midfield and returned it 55 yards to the one, before he fumbled into the end zone, where teammate Demetrick Watts recovered the ball for a touchdown.
HSU running back Tyree Marzetta had a good night on the ground, rushing for 119 yards on 18 carries, while Tingstad added 63 yards on 13 carries.
Through the air, the quarterback completed 8-for-23 passes for 121 yards and the one TD, but took care of the ball and did not throw a pick.
Richardson completed 24-of-44 passes for 321 yards and two TDs.
Defensively for the Jacks, Watts, Curtis Williams, Hunter Esary and Brandon Wright each had a sack.
The Jacks make their second trip of the season to Texas next week when they play at Texas-Permian Basin in Odessa.