UC Davis Earns First Big Sky Win, 37-13

Cornerback Jonathan Perkins forces a fumble during Saturday night's game.
 
Cornerback Jonathan Perkins forces a fumble during Saturday night's game.
 

Sept. 29, 2012

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DAVIS, Calif. - - Dalton Turay rushed for three touchdowns to help UC Davis take a 31-6 halftime lead, linebacker Byron Gruendl had a pair of interceptions, and the Aggies picked up their first-ever Big Sky Conference win, beating Weber State before 7,569 fans at Aggie Stadium on Saturday.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for UC Davis which improved to 2-3 overall while evening its conference mark at 1-1. The Wildcats remained winless, falling to 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the Big Sky. Quarterback Mike Hoke threw for 268 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a two-yard score in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Randy Wright threw for 190 yards and a touchdown, Corey Galindo caught four passes for 62 yards and the Aggie defense added four sacks, including 1.5 by defensive end Nick King. Redshirt freshman Brady Stuart connected on field goals of 44, 32 and 40 yards.

UC Davis led 10-0 after the first quarter before picking up a pair of one-yard touchdown plunges from Turay in the second quarter sandwiched around his five-yard touchdown run as the Aggies took a 31-0 lead just before halftime.

"He's a very durable guy," said Aggie coach Bob Biggs. "He's deceptively quick and he's very perceptive. He's strong enough that he breaks a lot of hand tackles and he's just very determined.

"He broke a couple of tackles today to get extra yardage," he added. "He's the heart and the soul of the team, especially on offense. First, his personality and then the way he plays dictates the team we are. If we play hard and we play together, then good things are going to happen."

The Aggies took the opening kickoff 62 yards in seven plays, picking up a 17-yard touchdown pass from Wright to Tim Benton to take an early 7-0 lead. It was the fourth time in five games that UC Davis has scored on the opening possession of a game, and the third time with a touchdown. Stuart had a career-best 44-yard field goal later in the quarter, a drive set up when Gruendl, who also had seven tackles, picked up his first career interception when he picked off Hoke near midfield.

Gruendl also had a hand with linebacker Jordan Glass in a fourth-down stop of the Wildcats at the Aggies' 32-yard line that led to the first of three straight drives that resulted in Turay's touchdowns. Turay's first score capped a 68-yard drive, the final one came on a 71-yard drive and the second one was set up when Ryan Dimino blocked Tony Epperson's punt at the Weber State 24.

Turay finished with 32 yards on eight carries while catching three passes for 30 yards.

Gruendl had another interception in the third quarter while a pair of fumbles set up Stuart for field goals of 32 and 40 yards, respectively, over a two-minute span early in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats picked up their first score on a 20-yard pass from Hoke to Erik Walker with 25 seconds left in the first half, and their second with just under five minutes remaining in the game when Hoke went around the right side and leapt into the endzone.

"We fed off the emotion and the energy from the crowd," Bigg said. "We came down the tunnel and saw the stands full with all the students and that ignited the team and got everyone really excited. Yes, it's a game, you're playing for yourselves and your team, but you're also playing for the student body and when you see that kind of support, it makes you want to play well. I thought they came out and entertained very well tonight."

Cornerback Dre Allen finished with eight tackles to lead the UC Davis defense in that areawhile Reece Ludwig, King, Glass and Gruendl each finished with seven. The Aggies also posted 10.0 TFL's including 2.5 for King, totaling 16 yards. Defensive Anthony Kaspar batted down a couple of passes and cornerback Jonathan Perkins forced a fumble.

"The defense has played well all year," said Biggs. "We've given up some big plays but they've been consistent. I thought our three young safeties were a little nervous but they performed very well. We made plays when we had to make plays. We were a little sloppy with some of the personal fouls, but overall it was a great effort."

UC Davis also did not give up a sack and has not allowed one through two home games.

Walker finished with 88 receiving yards on three catches to help lead the Weber State offense while Anthony Morales had 11 tackles and Tony Epperson, who also averaged 51.3 yards on three punts and is the nation's leader in that category, had 10 tackles.

The victory was the first in the Big Sky for UC Davis which is in its first year of football membership in the league.

UC Davis will play home again next Saturday, hosting No. 2 Montana State at 4 p.m.