Aggies' offense erupts in rout of North Dakota

Sept. 30, 2017

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DAVIS, Calif. - 
Sophomore quarterback Jake Maier (economics major) threw for a career-high 415 yards and four touchdowns, while junior wide receiver Keelan Doss (organizational studies) finished with 11 catches for 199 yards on the night, helping host UC Davis rack up 651 yards of total offense en route to a 48-24 victory over North Dakota, last year's Big Sky Conference co-champion, in its first league home game of the season on Saturday night in front of 9,508 at Aggie Stadium.

"When you get this type of support behind you, it is a real game changer," said Maier regarding Saturday's raucous crowd. "When you have a crowd that gives you that extra energy, and supports you from start to finish, it makes it easier to fight through adversity. When this place is rocking like it was tonight, it helps us compete with confidence.

"It's one of the greatest feelings in college football, and something you dream about. Football is more fun when we play in a stadium like this."

The Aggies improved to 3-2 overall and evened their Big Sky record at 1-1. The Fighting Hawks, who had a pair of 100-yard rushers in John Santiago (170) and Brady Oliveira (107), fell to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play.

Ryan Bua (hydrology) finished with a team-high seven tackles on the night and recovered a fumble forced by Vincent White (psychology) to snuff out a Fighting Hawks' drive in the second quarter. Keleen Culberson (managerial economics) collected his first interception of the season with just over a minute to play in the third quarter to go with five tackles, while Mason Moe (human development) and Terrell Cloud (managerial economics) each had sacks on the night.

The 651 yards of total offense were the most since the Aggies racked up 658 against New Mexico Highlands on Sept. 1, 2001, and fell 46 yards shy of the record of 697 set against Mesa State in the NCAA Division II playoffs on Nov. 25, 2000.

"Tonight, we had 11 guys who were on the same page (on each side of the ball), executed their assignments, and did their job, which allowed us to make plays and create confusion," said Maier. 

"We work every day during practice to make games like today a reality, which is not easy. When our defense makes stops, teammates like Wes makes catches and Jake makes throws like he did today, that is a byproduct of the hard work that takes place throughout the week leading up to the game," said Doss.

Maier's total came on 33-of-38 passing, connecting with sophomore Wesley Preece (undeclared) for touchdowns three times and Doss on another, on his way to the first 400-plus yard passing game by a UC Davis quarterback since Greg Denham threw for 434 yards at San Diego on Nov. 22, 2008. The total was also the highest for an Aggie signal caller in the Big Sky era, besting Ben Scott's 381 yards against Southern Oregon on Sept. 10 of last season.

"I enter every game ready to play well and do whatever it takes to help my team. Scoring three touchdowns exceeded my expectations," said Preece. 

Doss, meanwhile, finished just eight yards shy of his career high and surpassed his previous season best of 181 yards at San Diego State in this year's season opener. His 65-yard touchdown pass gave the Aggies the lead for good just three minutes into the game as part of a 21-point first quarter that saw both teams combine for 441 yards of offense throughout the first 15 minutes of action.

Maier, who has passed for 300 yards in four of his five starts, is tied for sixth on the school's single-game passing chart with J.T. O'Sullivan, who had 415 yards at Cal Poly in 2000, while his 33 completions are the most since Denham finished 43-for-67 against Montana on Sept. 12, 2009. Meanwhile, Doss' total places him sixth on the single-game charts, just a yard shy from posting the sixth 200-yard receiving game in school history.

Junior C.J. Spencer's (biochemistry & molecular biology) five-yard run opened the scoring for UC Davis, which was quickly answered by an 81-yard scamper from North Dakota's John Santiago that tied things up. Doss' long touchdown came on the very next play from scrimmage, and the race was on.

After both teams combined for 21 points in the first three minutes of the game, Preece's first score of the night capped an 11-play drive that started on UC Davis' own 11-yard line, and the Aggies led, 21-10, after the Fighting Hawks kicked a field goal with four seconds remaining in the quarter.

Senior running back Justin Williams (political science), who led the UC Davis on the ground with 74 yards on the night, punched in a two-yard touchdown to start the second period, and Preece capped another short drive on the Aggies' next possession, hauling in a 15-yard pass from Maier for a 35-10 advantage midway through the quarter.

North Dakota quarterback Keaton Studsrud inched the Fighting Hawks closer with a 12-yard touchdown run that finished off a 10-play, 75-drive, but sophomore Max O'Rourke nailed a 20-yard field goal as time expired to give UC Davis a three-score advantage, 38-17, at the break.

O'Rourke's 21-yard field goal was the only scoring of the third quarter, and the two teams traded fourth-quarter touchdowns -- Preece's third of the night on a 20-yard pass from Maier and a 36-yard touchdown catch by North Dakota's Hunter Pinke -- to cap the scoring.

UC Davis, now 2-0 at home, returns to the field on Saturday (Oct. 7), hosting Eastern Washington for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Aggie Stadium.

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