Momentum Swing Leads Spartans To 45-13 Win

Phillip Thrappas makes one of his nine total tackles against San Jose State.
(Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)

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SAN JOSE, Calif. - De'Leon Eskridge's two rushing touchdowns over a 28-second span late in the second quarter sparked 35 consecutive points by San Jose State on Saturday while negating a seven-point lead by UC Davis, as the Spartans went on to defeat the visiting Aggies 45-13 in a nonconference football game.

Alex Cannon caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Randy Wright on the second play of the game to give UC Davis, which fell to 1-1, an early lead. Cannon finished with two catches for 72 yards while Wright had 194 yards passing to go over 5,000 career yards.

Linebacker Jordan Glass had nine tackles including an eight-yard sack to help lead the UC Davis defense which also received nine tackles from safety Phillip Thrappas.

Eskridge finished with three rushing TD's, netting 130 yards on 16 carries in the game. Quarterback David Fales threw for 277 yards and a 10-yard touchdown to receiver Chandler Jones who also caught a 10-yard score from Blake Jurich.

Despite the loss, Aggie coach Bob Biggs said UC Davis will benefit from facing a San Jose State that narrowly lost at #21 Stanford last week, 20-17.

"That's why it's good to play a good opponent like this because you can go back now and see really what you're all about, what you did well and what you didn't do well," said Biggs whose team upset the Spartans 14-13 in their last visit to San Jose in 2010. "One good thing about this team, we've got an experienced team and although they're disappointed, their heads aren't hanging."

The Aggies controlled much of their first half, picking up early momentum with a strong start. A 33-yard kickoff return by Jonathan Perkins set up the Aggies near midfield. A nine-yard completion to tight end Mark Martindale put them at the SJSU 45.

Cannon then got behind the defense on the left sideline on the next play, hauled in a long pass from Wright and scooted into the endzone with his first career touchdown.

The defense then went to work, allowing just 41 total yards on San Jose State's first four drives while turning it away on a three-and-out on the second one and gaining possession after holding on fourth down late in the opening quarter.

The Spartans' first two drives of the second quarter also came up empty, the first drive gaining just 11 yards while the next one was stopped by a fumble at the UC Davis 11 after San Jose State had moved 71 yards on 12 plays. Linebacker Steven Pitts came up with the loose ball for the Aggies.

After the early touchdown, though, UC Davis wasn't able to capitalize on its enusing drives, punting on three of its next five drives, fumbling at its own 33 on another and then missing a 32-yard field goal attempt by Brady Stuart on another.

The Aggies, though, were still leading 7-0 late in the second quarter before Eskridge gave the Spartans the lead for good with two quick scores. His five-yard run with 1 minute, 49 seconds left tied the game and capped a 52-yard drive for San Jose State.

Alex Hines returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards for UC Davis but the Spartans got the ball right back when Wright was intercepted by Bene Benwikere near his team's sideline. Benwikere returned it 43 yards to the Aggies' 17, leading to Eskridge's second TD two players later with 1:21 on the clock.

San Jose State scored touchdowns on its first three drives of the second half, two of them by Jones who caught his first TD pass with 12:21 left in the third, and his second one five minutes later. Eskridge finished a 21-point quarter by San Jose State, running in from 27 yards for his third touchdown.

UC Davis put together a 10-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Colton Silveria's three-yard touchdown run off the left side early in the fourth quarter but the PAT was missed. Austin Lopez's 25-yard field goal and Jurich's 11-yard TD run accounted for San Jose State's 10 points in the final period.

"To San Jose State's credit, they changed up their defense, they started bringing more pressure, they played more man (coverage), we couldn't get first downs, our defense was just on the field too long and I think eventually it just caught up with us and they wore us down," Biggs said.

Silveria gained 72 yards on 14 carries to lead an Aggie rushing attack that gained 106 yards but gave back 48, mostly on six sacks by San Jose State. Defensive end Travis Johnson had four of them. Cannon's pair of catches for 72 yards led the receivers. Nine different players caught Wright's 14 completions.

Thrappas had three solo tackles in his nine total stops while Glass had a pair as part of his nine. Glass earned his sack in the second quarter, coming up the middle to get Fales while stopping the Spartans' drive. Defensive end Nick King had a pair of TFL's and forced a fumble while Perkins broke up a pass.

Punter Colton Schmidt had another strong night, averaging 44.8 yards on six kicks including a long of 62 yards. He had two land inside the 20. Hines had 115 yards on four kickoff returns.

Wright now stands at 5,042 career passing yards.

The game also featured a brother-to-brother matchup between the Aggies' defensive tackle Anthony Kaspar and his brother, Nicholas, an offensive guard for the Spartans. The two went head to head much of the night, the first time they've faced each other in a collegiate game.

UC Davis will be on the road for the second of three straight weeks when it travels to face South Dakota State next Saturday in Brookings, S.D. Kickoff is noon (Pacific).