Aug. 30, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - - Running back Marquis Nicolis rushed for 79 yards, fullback Dalton Turay scored two touchdowns and the Aggie defense held Azusa Pacific to just 218 total yards, as the UC Davis football team rolled to a 41-3 nonconference football season-opening win at Aggie Stadium on Thursday night.
The victory gave Bob Biggs - who announced late last year that the 2012 season would be his last - his 141st career win.
Turay, playing his first Aggie game, carried the ball just five times for 14 yards but scored from two yards early in the game to help stake UC Davis to an early 7-0 lead, and then added a one-yard plunge in the third that made it 34-3.
Nicolis had 11 carries for his 79 yards, averaging 7.2 yards and breaking off a long of 14 yards. Quarterback Randy Wright completed 13 of 19 yards for 166 yards and a touchdown.
The Aggie defense, meanwhile, stifled Azusa Pacific for most of the night, allowing just 75 total yards in the first half including just 28 on the ground. More than half the Cougars' yards in the game came from running back Terrell Watson who gained 144 yards on 17 carries.
Azusa Pacific, playing its first season at the NCAA Division II level, netted 111 yards on the ground and just 107 in the air.
"Well, the first game, you think you know you're a team, but until you actually come out and play in a game and see yourself against other teams, you don't really know what you have," Biggs said. "I've been extremely pleased with the work ethic and the chemistry of this football team and the commitment to wanting to be good.
"I thought they played with that kind of passion tonight," he added. "We'll go back and look at it (and) see what wrinkles we need to smooth out. It was a step in the right direction."
UC Davis wasted little time getting on the scoreboard on Thursday night, taking the opening drive 74 yards and scoring when Turay powered across from the two-yard line. It was the first time the Aggies have opened a season with a touchdown since taking the opening kick and driving for a touchdown against New Hampshire in 2005.
Redshirt freshman Brady Stuart, who kicked a 37-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, booted a 23-yarder late in the first to stake the Aggies to a 10-0 lead. A 37-yard TD pass from Wright to tight end Taylor Sloat early in the second and Colton Silveria's four-yard touchdown with 52 seconds before half gave UC Davis a comfortable 27-3 lead.
UC Davis put together a 67-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, its second-longest of the night, capping it with Turay's second score. Cortney Williams rumbled in from a yard with just over two minutes to play to finish the 41-3 win.
A lot of the offense's success can be attributed to a swarming defense which forced three-and-outs on Azusa Pacific's first four drives while holding the Cougars to no yards. UC Davis forced eight punts in the game and only two drives longer than 40 yards.
Khalid Jones and Kirk Skierski each had five tackles for UC Davis with Jones posting a pair of TFL's. Aaryn Jones had an interception. The defense combined for 9.0 TFL's with eight different players getting a share of that totoal. Jones and Kyle DeVaughn had sacks.
"Defensively, we swarmed and ran to the ball very well," said Biggs. "We tackled very well, which is really pleasing because they're a pretty prolific running team.
Special teams also shined for UC Davis behind the legs of Stuart and senior punter Colton Schmidt. Schmidt, who averaged 46.3 yards on three kicks - all of which he put inside the 20-yard line - also handled kickoff duties on Thursday, sending five into the endzone for touchbacks. Jonathan Perkins had a 44-yard kickoff return.
Watson had a long run of 39 yards but no other Cougar had more than six rushing yards on the night. Quarterback Nick Owens completed 9 of 16 passes for 81 yards. Tyler Thornton and Sean Barber each had 14 tackles for the Cougars with Thornton collecting an interception as well.
UC Davis will turn to the road for its next three games, beginning Sept. 8 at San Jose State. It'll follow with matchups at South Dakota State on Sept. 15 and Cal Poly on Sept. 22.