Sept. 5, 2004
DAVIS, Calif. -
Quarterback Jon Grant completed 20 of 24 passes for 278 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start, UC Davis rolled to a 38-0 halftime lead, and the Aggies pitched a shutout the rest of the way as they blanked South Dakota State 52-0 in the Great West Football Conference opener for both teams on Saturday at Toomey Field.
UC Davis is 1-0 with their season-opening win while the Jackrabbits are 0-1. Receiver Kevin Freeman caught nine passes for 92 yards and a score, running back O.J. Swanigan scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown, and cornerback Andy Sullivan had a 58-yard interception return for a another score.
"This was a great way to start the season," said UC Davis coach Bob Biggs, who earned his 97th career win. "It was one of those games where the defense dictated play and made it difficult for South Dakota State to move the ball. From there it snow-balled and it just kept building."
Grant, who had just six career passes entering his first start, was nearly perfect in the first half, completing 16 of 17 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. His 14-yard toss to Kevin Freeman on the Aggies' first possession staked them to a 7-0 lead just over six minutes into the game. An 18-yard scoring strike to receiver Tony Kays helped make it 17-0 with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left in the first quarter and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Swanigan late in the first half put UC Davis in front 38-0 at halftime.
UC Davis led 24-0 at the end of the first quarter and quickly pushed that to 31-0 after Sullivan picked off quarterback Brad Nelson's pass on the first playof the second quarter, racing 58 yards for a score with his first career interception.
Grant found senior Jesse Oliva in the back of the endzone midway through the third quarter for his fourth touchdown before sophomore quarterback Matt Engle came on to hit receiver Jason Yaklich with a 19-yard touchdown pass with 12:01 left.
"Offensively, we did executed extremely well," Biggs said. "The receivers caught the ball well. Overall, we did what we had to do."
Freshman kicker Emmanuel Benjamin had a 36-yard field goal and converted all seven of his extra-point attempts in his Aggie debut.
The UC Davis defense forced the Jackrabbits - who finished with just 253 yards of total offense - into five punts in the first half including a pair of three-and-out drives that netted three yards. South Dakota State had just 110 yards of total offense in the first half.
The Aggie defense stayed tough the entire game, preserving the shutout with an impressive goal-line stand in the final minutes. South Dakota State had first-and-goal from the 3-yard line but Trevor Hohn picked up just a yard on the first two downs, backup quarterback Andy Kordoes gained just one yard and Cory Koenig was stopped at the 1 by defensive tackle Naveen Daftari and linerbacker Ryan Payne on fourth down.
Payne finished with a team-high eight tackles, including a sack, linebacker Tom Parisi had seven tackles and linebackers Mike Calhoun and Dan Elbanna each had six. Defensive end Jake Mossawir blocked a field goal attempt and had five tackles.
Chri Coauette had 11 tackles to lead South Dakota State and Mike Blackbourn had 10.
In addition to his receiving yards, Freeman had a 43-yard punt return. Receiver Nolan de Graaff had five receptions for 85 yards.
The margin of victory was the fourth highest in scoring history while the shutout was the Aggies' first since beating Sacramento State 43-0 in 2001.
UC Davis will be off until traveling to face Weber State on Sept. 18.