Offense erupts as UC Davis beats Southern Oregon, 52-35

Sept. 10, 2016

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DAVIS, Calif. Quarterback Ben Scott threw for a career-high 381 yards and four touchdowns, Ramon Vargas had 208 receiving yards and Manusamoa Luuga had a 90-yard touchdown run as UC Davis beat Southern Oregon, 52-35, in a nonconference football game at Aggie Stadium on Saturday night.

UC Davis evened its early season record at 1-1 while Southern Oregon, which won the NAIA championship in 2014 and went to the final last year, is 0-2. The Raiders are preseason ranked No. 2 nationally.

The teams combined for 1,260 yards of total offense; 653 for Southern Oregon an 617 for the Aggies. UC Davis, which tied its highest scoring output since tallying 55 against Iona in 2008, went over 600 yards for the first time since 2014 against Montana State (610).

Scott finished 22 of 29 while throwing touchdown passes to Keelan Doss, Nehemiah Winston, Ethan Hicks and a 65-yarder to Vargas. His 381 yards eclipsed the 379 he had in his first start against Montana State two years ago.

Vargas' receiving yards are the fourth-most in school history and marked the first 200-yard game for an Aggie receiver since Tony Kay's school-record 233 yards against Texas A&M-Kingsville in the 2001 NCAA Div. II playoffs.

Luuga had 13 carries for 145 yards, highlighted by his 90-yard TD run late in the first quarter that gave UC Davis a 21-14 lead. The long run is tied for the second-longest in program history and tied Joe Trombetta's 90-yarder against Western Washington in 2007 as the longest at Aggie Stadium.

Defensive end Anthony Baumgart had eight tackles, 2 TFLs and an interception to help lead the defense while linebacker Zach Jones had five tackles. UC Davis had four interceptions against Southern Oregon, eclipsing the three it had all of last year. Safeties Darryl Graham, Mitch Casas and Ryan Parenteau also had picks.

The Aggies erupted for 21 points in the first quarter and 35 by halftime. Their first-half scoring was their best since 38 against Winston-Salem State in 2009.

"I want to congratulate the players on their first win of 2016," said head coach Ron Gould. "It was definitely a hard-fought game. An ugly win is better than a pretty loss. There were some things tonight that looked very good but the end result was that we were able to get a victory."

UC Davis took an early 7-0 lead on Winston's 18-yard touchdown pass from Scott six minutes into the game and then used Joshua Kelley's 7-yard run to the left side later in the quarter to tie it 14-14. 

Luuga then electrified the 5,433 fans in attendance when he bolted through the line with a minute to go in the first and raced 90 yards for his career-best run. That surpassed his previous best of 46 yards against Nevada on his first collegiate rush in 2013.

Tied at 21-21 after Rey Vega raced 48 yards with 9:13 left in the first half for Southern Oregon, UC Davis took the lead for good when Scott threw it up at the left endzone pylon and Doss came down with it in traffic for the score. Luuga's run up the gut for 13 yards with 4:59 to go gave the Aggies a 35-21 halftime lead.

Luuga has five touchdowns through two games, just one shy of the half-dozen he had all of last year.

UC Davis took a 21-point lead midway through the third quarter when Vargas got behind the defense and Scott found him for a 65-yard score. It was the longest reception of his career, beating the 58-yarder he hauled in from Scott against Montana in 2014. 

Freshman Matt Blair gave the Aggies their biggest lead of the game with his first career field goal from 29 yards. Fullback Ethan Hick's four-yard TD catch from Scott early in the fourth quarter - the first of his young Aggie career - rounded out UC Davis' scoring.

Quarterback Tanner Trosin threw for 428 yards and three touchdowns for Southern Oregon while Zack Davis had four catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Ben Bachman caught six passes for 101 yards. Vegas rushed for 108 yards to go with his long touchdown run.

Besides their four interceptions, UC Davis also broke up four passes and had 8 TFLs. Half of Baumgart's eight total tackles were solo stops. He returned his interception 15 yards.