Mustangs Hold Off Late Aggie Rally

Randy Wright threw for 278 yards on Saturday night.
 
Randy Wright threw for 278 yards on Saturday night.
 

Sept. 22, 2012

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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - UC Davis jumped to an early 10-0 lead and then rallied with 10 points in the fourth quarter, but host Cal Poly scored 28 unanswered points in between to snap a three-game losing streak in the "Battle for the Golden Horseshoe" with a 28-20 win in the Big Sky Conference football opener for both teams.

UC Davis fell to 1-3 overall while Cal Poly improved to 3-0 before a sellout crowd of 11,075 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

Quarterback Randy Wright threw for 278 yards, highlighting his night with a career-best 67-yard touchdown pass to Corey Galindo that gave the Aggies a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Linebacker Byron Gruendl had a career-best 15 tackles, including 12 solo, for UC Davis.

Williams carried the ball 20 times for 188 yards and three touchdowns, scoring from five yards in the second quarter and from 14 and seven yards, respectively, in the third as the Mustangs took a 28-10 lead.

UC Davis closed to 28-17 in the fourth after a two-yard touchdown run by Courtney Williams and then picked up a 41-yard field goal from redshirt freshman Brady Stuart with 5 minutes, 45 seconds left to get within a touchdown and two-point conversion.

UC Davis' defense held later and the Aggies got the ball back with 2:34 to go. They were looking to repeat the same magic they had two years ago when they rallied on their final drive to beat the Mustangs, 22-21.

Colton Silveria picked up a first down at the Aggies' 32 but four incompletions stalled the last-minute drive and gave Cal Poly the ball to run out the clock with 1:42 left.

"I was 100 percent sure we were going to tie the game and (that we would have) this thing in overtime," Wright said. "The guys were rallying around us and the defense had three drives where they held strong, and I was really confident we were going to tie this thing."

Biggs was also proud of the team's effort.

"The guys played hard," said Aggie coach Bob Biggs. "As a coach that's all you can ask for."

UC Davis, which last lost to Cal Poly in 2008, used a fast start to take an early double-digit lead. Stuart's 39-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game capped a 10-play, 57-yard possession that gave the Aggies an early 3-0 lead.

After holding the Mustangs to a three-and-out on their first drive, UC Davis took over on its own 21, scoring four plays later when Galindo got behind the defense down the middle of the field and was hit on the run by Wright.

"We knew we wanted to get the lead early and strike first," said Galindo. "We got the perfect look for it and it worked out."

Cal Poly, which had a 64-yard drive stopped by a missed field goal later in the first quarter, started its four-touchdown surge when Akaninyene Umoh went around the left side for a 51-yard touchdown with just over a minute left.

The Aggies had a pair of three-and-outs on their next possessions before the Mustangs took the lead on Williams' first touchdown, this one from five yards at the end of a 6-play, 64-yard drive midway through the second quarter.

A long 18-play drive by Cal Poly chewed up the rest of the quarter and ended with a missed 30-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

Cal Poly took little time to extend its lead in the third quarter, taking the opening kick 85 yards on just four plays, including a 55-yard run by Williams over right tackle on the first play from scrimmage. Williams scamped 14 yards over the left side just over a minute into the quarter and a 21-10 Cal Poly lead.

A 53-yard drive, which had 26 rushing yards from Williams, resulted in his seven-yard touchdown run that made it 28-10 with 5:13 left in the third quarter.

UC Davis had its best drive of the game which began at its own 3-yard line late in the third quarter. The Aggies went 97 yards on 14 plays, picking up a 15-yard completion from Wright to T.J. King and a 26-yard pass to from Wright to Sloat on fourth down that put the ball at the Cal Poly 10.

UC Davis faced another fourth down, this time from the 2 and Williams punched it through from the left side, bringing the Aggies to within 28-17 and still 10:10 left on the clock.

Gruendl had one of his 15 stops on third down during the Mustangs' ensuing drive, forcing a punt that UC Davis took at its 38. The Aggies moved to the Cal Poly 25 before getting Stuart's second field goal.

The defense held Cal Poly again, stopping the Mustangs at their own 45. A fumble on the punt was nullified by a Cal Poly penalty, leading to a second punt that set UC Davis up for its final drive attempt.

Cal Poly outgained UC Davis 434-262 overall, including rushing for 334 yards overall. Umoh finished with 87 yards. Quarterback Andre Broadus completed five passes for 68 yards.

Wright completed 25 of 45 passes for his 278 yards, throwing one interception and his career-long pass to Galindo. Galindo had three catches for 100 yards for the team's first 100-yard day since Tom Hemmingsen had 141 against Humboldt State last season.

"I thought Randy played well," said Biggs. "We dropped some balls out there we had a chance to catch but I thought the offensive line gave him some time to throw, and I just thought he did a great job getting the ball where he needed to get it."

Gruendl's tackles were a game-high and eclipsed the 11 he had against North Dakota last year. Linebacker Jordan Glass had eight tackles while Andrew Benjamin had an eight-yard sack.

Kennith Jackson and Nick Dzubnar each had 12 tackles for Cal Poly.

UC Davis will try to snap a three-game losing streak when it returns home to face Weber State next Saturday. Kickoff at Aggie Stadium is 6 p.m.