Sept. 25, 2004
DAVIS, Calif. - UC Davis scored 28 unanswered points in the second half Saturday, breaking open a close 30-23 halftime lead, on its way to a 58-23 victory over rival Sacramento State in the 51st annual Causeway Classic played before 8,720 fans at Toomey Field.
The Aggies improved to 3-0 on the season - their first such start since 2001 - while the Hornets dropped to 1-2. UC Davis won for the fifth straight time over Sacramento State, handing head coach Bob Biggs his 99th career win and putting him within one victory of becoming the second Aggie coach in school history to reach the 100-win plateau.
UC Davis leads the all-time series between the schools, 36-16. The teams met twice in 1988, the latter coming in the postseason. The Aggies allowed just 91 yards of total offense to the Hornets after halftime, helping key the win.
Aggie quarterback Jon Grant completed 18 of 22 passes for 246 yards on Saturday before yielding to backup Matt Engle, who completed all six of his attempts for 86 yards and a touchdown. As a team, UC Davis completed 27 of 32 passes for 350 yards and a pair of scores. Four different Aggie receivers each collected at least four receptions, led by Tony Kays who had six catches for 69 yards.
Sacramento State running back Ryan Mole had a game-high 132 yards rushing, highlighting his night with a 63-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Quarterback Ryan Leadingham passed for 224 yards and a pair of scores.
UC Davis led 30-23 at halftime after a two-yard touchdown run from O.J. Swanigan with just 20 seconds before half gave the Aggies the halftime lead. The lead swiitched hands six times before intermission.
UC Davis, however, scored on a one-yard run from Engle late in the third quarter for a 37-23 lead, and then put the game nearly out of reach with a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown by receiver Jesse Oliva just over a minute into the fourth quarter. It was Oliva's second straight game with a punt return for a touchdown after collecting an 85-yard return at Weber State last week.
A 23-yard pass from Engle to Kevin Freeman with 10:59 left in the fourth gave UC Davis a 51-23 while a six-yard pass from reserve Bryan Lee-Lauduski to Jason Yaklich gave UC Davis the final 35-point margin.
"I've said this all season, I really like this team." said Biggs. "The players have a great attitude and support each other. We came out and were on our heels defensively in the first half. But in the second we got our confidence and did what we had to. It was fun to watch."
UC Davis took the opening kick and drove 65 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a three-yard run by Nelson Doris. However, following an interception of Leadingham by safety Nate Ramezane inside the Aggies' five-yard line, the Hornets scored on a safety when defensive end Traison Lewis sacked Grant in the endzone. Grant was called for intentional grounding on the play, resulting in the safety.
Mole then put the Hornets in the lead with an impressive 63-yard burst, giving the Hornets a 9-7 lead nearly seven minutes into the game. Swanigan, who finished with 79 rushing yards then capped a 9-play, 85-yard drive with a four-yard score early in the second quarter while running for the two-point conversion as well. A 25-yard touchdown pass from Leadingham to McFleurinord less than two minutes later returned the lead to Sacramento State, 16-15.
The teams then exchanged touchdowns down a stretch of the half - UC Davis scoring on a one-yard plunge by Grant and the Hornets answering with 18-yard pass from Leadingham to Ryan Coogler. Trailing 23-22, the Aggies took the lead for good after Ryan Ramey took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to the Hornets' one-yard line, leading to Swanigan's short touchdown just before half.
Ramey's return was the second-longest in school history, just short of John Nedderman's 100-yard return in 1948.
"I think the key play of the game was Ryan Ramey's return right before the half," Biggs said. "(Special teams) Coach (Greg) Chapla made a great call and it really switched the momentum and gave us a lot of confidence going in (to halftime)."
UC Davis finished with a 530 yards in total offense, while Sacramento State had 360, however a majority of the Hornets' total came in the first half.
Defensive backs Luis Amaral an Angelo Caffese each had interceptions for UC Davis while defensive end Pila Fatukala had three sacks and a six tackles. Linebackers Dan Elbanna and Tom Parisi led UC davis in tackles with Elbanna collecting a team-high eight and Parisis getting seven.
Linebacker Jimmy Ellingson had 13 tackles for the Hornets. UC Davis returns to Great West Football Conference action next Saturday when it travels to face Northern Colorado.
Big Sky Scholar-Athlete Award