Sept. 20, 2003
SAN MARCOS, Calif. - Quarterback Barrick Nealy passed for 384 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday night, and Texas State rallied from an early 13-0 deficit, as the Bobcats amassed 574 yards in total offense while holding off UC Davis 34-32 in a collegiate football game played before 8,764 fans at Bobcat Stadium.
UC Davis, which was led by 240 yards passing from quarterback Ryan Flanigan and 89 receiving yards from tight end Daniel Fells, dropped to 1-2. Texas State - known by its former name Southwest Texas State until earlier this month - improved to 2-2. Free safety Ejiro Evero forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass for the Aggies.
Running back Antar Mahasin scored on a one-yard plunge with 5 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the contest - his second touchdown of the game - but UC Davis failed its attempt at a two-point conversion which would've tied the score, 34-34. The Bobcats drove deep into Aggie territory on their ensuing drive, turning the ball over on downs at the UC Davis 9-yard line with just 20 seconds left. The Aggies were unable to move into possible game-winning field goal range.
UC Davis held the early 13-0 lead, capping a 9-play, 74-yard drive on the game's opening series to lead 7-0 after running back O.J. Swanigan scored from a yard out. The Aggies added to the lead on the Bobcats' subsequent drive when Evero knocked the ball loose from K.R. Carpenter which was scooped up by linebacker Justin Patterson. He scampered 31 yards for his fifth career defensive touchdown. However, Dusty Apocotos' extra-point attempt missed.
The Bobcats later tied it, 13-13, but were trailing 26-20 until taking the lead for good on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Nealy to John Tyson with 5:38 left in the third quarter. A 62-yard score from Nealy to Jarvis Smith made it 34-26 with 9:25 to go in the game before UC Davis made its final rally.
"I was proud of our team," said Flanigan. "We played hard until the end. It wasn't for a lack of effort that we didn't win. We just missed opportunities."
Aggie coach Bob Biggs agreed.
"We've been in both games (we've lost) and had our chances but just couldn't capitalize on opportunities," he said. "I like what I see from this football team. It's a long season and if we keep fighting like we are, we're going to be alright."
The Bobcats picked up 574 yards in total offense with their triple-shoot offense, most of them coming on the arm of Nealy who entered the game sixth among all NCAA Div. I-AA quarterbacks for passing yardage. He completed 28 of 43 passes, also tossing interceptions to Evero and Derick Daniels. Texas State trailed 13-3 late in the first quarter before Nealy hit Kenneth Samuels on a 43-yard scoring strike that brought the Bobcats to within three points entering the second period.
Kicker Steven Dietz booted a 46-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to tie game, 13-13, but a 5-yard run by Mahasin and a 30-yard field goal by Apocotos just before halftime gave the Aggies a 23-13 lead at the break.
The Bobcats opened the second half with an 11-play, 78-yard drive which was capped by a 12-yard touchdown run from Terrell Harris before the Aggies responded on a short drive that resulted in a 49-yard field goal from Apocotos that tied his career best set earlier against Grand Valley State. His boot put the Aggies up 26-20.
Harris led all rushes with 90 yards while Morris Brothers had 48 yards on five carries. Carpenter had nine catches to lead the Bobcats, totalling 83 yards. Tyson had five catches for 98 yards as five Texas State receivers had at least 50 receiving yards. The Bobcats entered the game averaging 451.0 ypg in offense.
Mahasin carried the ball 14 times for 53 yards to lead the Aggies while Swanigan had 39 yards on 10 carries. Flanigan, who completed 18 of 34 passes while throwing one interception - on the game's final play - hit Fells five times for 89 yards while Aaron Plunkett had three catches for 68. Mo Mortazavi had a career-best three catches for 37 yards, including a 35-yard reception from Billy Zeier on a double-pass to the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter that set up Mahasin's second score.
Defensive end Aaron Latzke had nine tackles for the Aggies, while linebacker Kelly Valaau had nine. In addition to forcing two fumbles and intercepting a pass, Evero had six stops. Patterson's touchdown was the fifth of his career, joining fumble and interception TD returns in both 2000 and 2002.
UC Davis is off until facing rival Sacramento State in the 50th annual Causeway Classic on Oct. 4. Kickoff has been changed to 7:30 p.m. to accommodate television coverage on The Football Network.