Sept. 12, 2009
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DAVIS, Calif. -
Chase Reynolds scored on a three-yard run in the fourth quarter on Saturday night, giving No. 4/5 Montana the lead for good, as the Grizzlies rallied for a 17-10 nonconference football win over UC Davis before 9,087 fans at Aggie Stadium.
UC Davis, which was led by a school-record 18 receptions from senior receiver Chris Carter and a record-tying 43 completions from quarterback Greg Denham, fell to 0-2 on the young season. Montana, which advanced to last year's NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) title game. improved to 2-0 while defeating the Aggies in a close matchup for the second consecutive year.
UC Davis led 10-0 before the Grizzlies responded with 17 unanswered points starting in the last half of the third quarter. The Aggies drove deep into Montana territory in the game's final minutes, but Denham was intercepted by Trumaine Johnson in the endzone with 51 seconds remaining, ending a late threat.
"The kids played their hearts out," said Aggie coach Bob Biggs. "It's just a great effort. We'll build on this. We have nine more games, and two games don't make a season."
Carter's 18 catches broke the previous record of 15 set by Tony Kays against Portland State in 2005 while Denham's completions tied Kevin Daft's 43 versus New Haven in 1997. Denham finished 43 of 67 with two interceptions, setting a school record for attempts previously held by Daft in 1997. Carter also had a career-high 190 receiving yards on Saturday night.
UC Davis led 3-0 in the first half, getting a 21-yard field goal from Sean Kelley early in the second quarter while using strong defense to hold Montana to just 133 total yards before halftime. The Aggies held the ball for 20 minutes in the first half while pushing the Grizzlies to an average starting position of their own 13-yard line.
The Aggies pushed their lead to 10-0 early in the third quarter, driving 45 yards on 13 plays and scoring on fourth down from a yard out on a play-action pass from Denham to wide open tight end Brad Bispo. Montana, though, bounced back with a 66-yard drive on its ensuing possession to score on a 17-yard pass from Justin Roper to Sam Gratton with 5 minutes, 7 seconds left in the quarter.
Taking the ball with just over 12 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies went 79 yards on just five plays - highlighted by a 61-yard pass from Roper to Dan Beaudin to the Aggies' 3 - before Reynolds delivered them a 14-10 lead with 9:57 to go. Brody McKnight added a 23-yard field goal with 8:34 remaining.
UC Davis got to the 15 on the next drive before stalling on fourth down, then took over at its own 33 with 2:31 to go for its final drive. Denham hit Carter for a 42-yard gain up the left sideline to Montana's 25, then found Sean Creadick for a 10-yarder to the 15. Facing 4th-and-7 at the 12 with 57 seconds left, the game faced a 16-minute delay when the stadium lights inadvertently went out. When play resumed, Denham was intercepted by Johnson.
The teams engaged in a close battle for the second straight year after Montana rallied for a late 29-24 win in Missoula in 2008. UC Davis outgained Montana 405-312 on Saturday night, dominated in possession time (37:24-22:36) and had more first downs (24-17).
UC Davis also picked up a big defensive play in the second quarter when linebacker Michael Healey stripped receiver Marc Mariani at the Aggies' 17 late in the first half. Danny Hart picked up the loose ball, returning it to the Montana 44, thwarting a prime scoring opportunity.
"I thought our defense played great," Biggs said. "We did a great job on the ball control tonight. We moved the chains. We did exactly what we wanted to do except we did not take advantage of some opportunities."
Linebackers Dozie Amajoyi and Mike Morales each had eight tackles with Morales adding a TFL. Healey added six stops while cornerback Kenny Brown finished with five tackles and two breakups.
Reynolds rushed for 90 yards on 25 carries while Roper threw for 143 yards on nine completions. Erik Stoll had a game-high 10 tackles.
Carter's yards are a career-high, breaking his previous best of 189 against Central Arkansas last year. Denham's 300-yard game was the seventh of his career while his completions broke his previous best of 31, set twice last season.
Carter's catches and Denham's completions are single-game highs for all of Division I this season - including Football Bowl Subdivision teams - while Denham's attempts are tops in FCS and tied for first among all Division I teams. Carter's 190 yards rank sixth in the FCS.
UC Davis is off until hosting Western Oregon on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m.