Sept. 14, 2002
DAVIS, Calif. -
Sophomore running back Matt Massari rushed for a career-high 237 yards on 16 carries Saturday - the fifth-highest rushing total in school history - as No.11 UC Davis beat Abilene Christian, 34-17, in a collegiate football game played before 5,776 fans at Toomey Field.
The Aggies earned their first win of the season, evening their record at 1-1, while the Wildcats dropped to 0-2.
Quarterback Ryan Flanigan
made his second career start, completing 14 of 22 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns. All of scores were to senior wide receiver Michael Oliva
, who finished with six catches for 113 yards. Flanigan hit Oliva for scoring strikes of five and 10 yards in the first half, and then tossed a 39-yarder to him in the third.
Eric Polk rushed for 89 yards and a 25-yard TD run to lead Abilene Christian, while quarterback Colby Freeman was 15 of 28 passing for 207 yards and touchdown, but was picked off twice and sacked seven times. The Aggies held Abilene Christian to just 256 yards in total offense.
"It was a great defensive effort again," said UC Davis coach Bob Biggs "They keep allowing our offense to get the ball in good position and continue to give us opportunities. We did some good things tonight with our running game. Matt had a great game, breaking off some long runs."
Massari, from Nevada Union High School, came into the game with 559 career yards, but had two long runs on Saturday night. He had a 62-yard run late in the first quarter then scored on an 89-yarder with 11:50 remaining in the game after bouncing off several defenders. His rushing total was the fifth-highest total in school history - just a single yard behind the 238-yard effort by Jermaine Rucker against Saint Mary's in 1996.
His 89-yard touchdown run was the third-longest in Aggie history and the program's longest since 1990.
Massari scored the Aggies' first touchdown with 7:43 left in the first quarter when he bounced in from two yards out. The score was set up a play earlier after a high snap by the Wildcats on fourth down from their own 26 sailed over punter Chase Fishback's head. Fishback chased it down at the 4-yard line, kicking it through the end zone. UC Davis was given the ball at the 2-yard line following the penalty.
Oliva caught his first touchdown pass with 49 seconds left in the quarter, culminating a 5-play, 79-yard drive.
Abilene Christian placekicker Eben Nelson had a career-long 50-yard field goal early in the second quarter, making it 14-3, then Freeman hit wide receiver DaRay Sims from 33 yards for a score. Oliva's final two scores - the first one coming with 4:24 left in the half and the second with 11:23 remaining in the third - helped give UC Davis a 28-10 lead.
Massari's long touchdown run put UC Davis in front 34-10, while Polk's 25-yard score with 9:57 to go provided the final tally of the game.
UC Davis turned in another stellar defensive effort, holding the Wildcats to 256 total yards, including just 49 yards on 38 rushing attempts. The Aggies also sacked Freeman seven times in the game, including 1.5 sacks from defensive end Aaron Latzke. Seven different Aggies had parts in the sacks.
Free safety Ejero Eviro had 13 total tackles for the Aggies, while linebacker Dan Elbanna and strong safety A.J. Avila each returned interceptions 12 yards.
Jayme Jackson had three sacks for the Wildcats, while defensive back Steven Riddley had nine tackles.
"I'm pleased that we were able to move the ball tonight and defensively we played well," said Biggs. "But there is always room for improvement."
UC Davis returns to action next Saturday, hosting perennial power North Dakota State at 6 p.m. at Toomey Field.