Sept. 21, 2002
DAVIS, Calif. - Quarterback Ryan Flanigan threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday - two of them to wide receiver Michael Oliva - and the UC Davis defense held North Dakota State to just 207 yards in total offense as the No.10 Aggies beat the Bison, 35-7, before 7,300 fans at Toomey Field.
UC Davis, which led 28-0 at halftime, won for the second straight time and is 2-1, while North Dakota State dropped to 1-1. The teams were meeting for the first time since 1985, for the just the fifth time ever, and for the first time in the regular season.
North Dakota State quarterback Graig Gorder ran in from six yards out in the third quarter for North Dakota State's only score, while receiver Charles Wiest caught five passes for 62 yards.
Flanigan completed 20 of 28 passes - including his first 10 of the game - hitting Oliva from 10 yards out with just over three minutes gone in the game, and then finding him on a 14-yard score with 6:47 left in the first quarter for a 14-0 UC Davis lead.
Freshman O.J. Swanigan's 24-yard TD pass reception from Flanigan put the Aggies up 21-0 with 5:54 left before the half before some trickery late in the half gave UC Davis its fourth score. On the play, Flanigan threw a pass behind the line of scrimmage to receiver Michael Eaglin who then hit tight end Grant Saysette downfield. Saysette did the rest, finishing off the 46-yard touchdown.
Gorder's six-yard score made it 28-7 with 7:27 left in the third quarter, while UC Davis running back Matt Massari plunged in from a yard with 4:21 remaining in the game for the final points.
UC Davis finished with 446 yards in total offense, including 306 through the air. The Aggies averaged 6.4 yards per play, held the ball for 11 more minutes and had 10 more first downs (22) than the Bison.
The Aggie defense, meanwhile, put up its third straight solid effort, limiting the Bison to just 207 yards in total offense, including just 51 total yards at halftime. North Dakota State averaged only 3.1 yards per play and had only 87 yards rushing on 27 carries. The remainder of the yards came through the air where Gorder was 14 of 40 for 140 yards with two interceptions.
"Our defense really set the tone for us tonight," said UC Davis Coach Bob Biggs. "I think (the Bison) went three-and-out in their first three drives. We know that we are playing well defensively and that gives us the confidence to open up the playbook. "It's a confidence level, that if it doesn't work, our defense will give us more chances. It's a great feeling to have."
Free safety E.J. Evero had seven tackles for the Aggies, including six solo, while cornerback Kwamin Taylor also had seven total tackles to go with a pair of pass-breakups. Strong safety A.J. Avila had six tackles.
Oliva posted his second straight 100-yard receiving day, finishing with nine catches for 109 yards. His two touchdowns give him 32 for his career, just two behind former Aggie John Shoemaker who had 33 between 1996-99. Kevin Freeman hauled in five passes for 50 yards, while Saysette had three catches for 53 yards.
Punter Chris Shibel kicked just four times, but twice pinned the Bison inside their own three-yard line.
"This team has great character and chemistry," said Biggs. "When you have those elements, you have a chance (to win). "We've stayed focused every game and that's a tribute to our seniors. They have made sure we take one game at a time. If we continue to do that, we can continue to be a pretty good team."
Tailback Keontay Jackson rushed 10 times for 48 yards to lead North Dakota State, while cornerback Mike Rhone finished the game with eight tackles. Jared Essler and Matt Gorman each intercepted passes.
The Bison were playing their first nonconference road game since 1987.
UC Davis returns to the road itself, traveling to battle Western Oregon in a 12:30 p.m. game next Saturday in Monmouth, Ore.
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