Sep 7, 2013
RENO, Nev. -
Shamawn Wright's 59-yard kickoff return and Tom Hemmingsen's ensuing 23-yard touchdown reception provided a highlight for UC Davis which fell to Nevada 36-7 in a nonconference football game played before 27,052 fans at MacKay Stadium on Saturday night, the first meeting between the programs in 24 years.
UC Davis, which trailed just 20-7 at halftime after surrendering two early touchdowns, fell to 0-2 on the young season. Hemmingsen caught six passes for 87 yards to help lead the Aggie offense which also got 81 rushing yards from freshman running back Manusamoa Luuga. Linebackers Jonathan Bias and Steven Pitts each had 11 tackles to help pace the defense while Nick King had a sack.
Quarterback Jimmy Laughrea made his first career start as an Aggie, throwing for 178 yards and a touchdown.
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns for Nevada which improved to 1-1. Running back Kendall Brock scored twice and had 116 rushing yards.
The Aggies surrendered 13 points in the game's opening five minutes, one of the scores coming on UC Davis' second play from scrimmage.
"We ran the ball well," said head coach Ron Gould. "Jimmy came in and threw the ball well (and) he moved the ball for us. He's a competitor and the game is important to him. We have to make plays. We shot ourselves in the foot right away but the guys are resilient. We're just not finishing things."
UC Davis had a rough start, giving up the two early touchdowns before settling in and playing Nevada even for the remainder of the half. The Aggies took the opening kickoff and turned the ball over on their second play when Laughrea's short pass went off fullback Dalton Turay's
fingertips and was picked off at the 25 by linebacker Bryan Lane, Jr. Fajardo scored on a keeper three plays later and the Wolf Pack had a 7-0 lead barely a minute into the game.
Fajardo found Aaron Bradley for 20 yards and then Richy Turner for a 40-yard touchdown pass on Nevada's next series and - after a fumbled extra-point attempt - the Aggies were down 13-0 less than five minutes into the game.
The Aggies had bright spots early in the game, including Luuga rushing for 46 yards up the left side on his first career carry. Redshirt freshman Tavior Mowry had another big run for UC Davis, scampering 28 yards on the Aggies' third possession to help them get breathing room after being pinned inside their own 5-yard line after a punt.
The defense held the Wolf Pack without a score on its next two drives while the offense mixed in a nice 10-play, 80-yard drive that was eventually ended by a missed 31-yard field goal attempt midway through the second quarter. Nevada then took the ball on the ensuing drive and went 80 yards, capping it with Brock's first touchdown, this one from two yards.
Wright's big return, which he took at the 1 and saw him race up the middle before moving up the right side, put UC Davis in business at the Wolf Pack's 35 after an offsides penalty tacked on five yards to the end. Laughrea hit Hemmingsen with a short gain before finding him wide open near the goal line for a 23-yard score. The Aggies went into the half, only down 20-7.
Nevada scored on two of its three drives in the third quarter. The first covered 75 yards and was topped by Brock's six-yard touchdown run while the second went 87 yards and ended on Fajardo's eight-yard pass to Brandon Wimberly. Brent Zuto's 23-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.
Luuga carried the ball 13 times for his 81 yards, averaging 6.2 yards a carry. Mowry finished with 41 yards on four carries.
"We're very proud of this young man (Luuga) and how he really stepped up" said Gould. "It's amazing to see great leadership coming from a freshman."
Nevada finished with 535 total yards, split almost evenly between the run (267) and pass (268). Turner added six catches for 136 yards.
Jonathan Perkins had nine tackles for UC Davis and broke up a pass while safety Aarynn Jones had eight tackles.
After opening the season with two games on the road, UC Davis will play the first of three straight at Aggie Stadium beginning with a 6 p.m. nonconference matchup next week against Northern Arizona.