Aggies drop heartbreaker to No. 10 Eagles, 41-38

Oct. 7, 2017

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DAVIS, Calif. --
UC Davis junior quarterback C.J. Spencer (biochemistry & molecular biology major) ran for three touchdowns and junior wide receiver Keelan Doss (organizational studies) finished with 15 catches for a career high 208 yards and a TD, but No. 10 Eastern Washington rallied for the winning score in the final minutes of Saturday's Big Sky Conference battle to clip the host Aggies, 41-38, in front of 8,158 fans at Aggie Stadium.

UC Davis will enter its bye week with records of 3-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play, and will return to the field for its next game on Oct. 21 when it faces Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Eagles will continue their season with records of 4-2 and 3-0.

Doss surpassed his previous career high of 207 receiving yards set last season against Sacramento State, keeping him fourth on the school's single-game list. Spencer, who entered the night with two rushing touchdowns on the year, became the first UC Davis player to run for three scores since Manusamoa Luuga did so at Oregon on Sept. 3, 2016.

"This result hurts, but we will come away with a belief that we could win, should win, and can win against a team like this one. Give Eastern Washington credit, they are a tough team that gives you little margin for error," said UC Davis head coach Dan Hawkins.

Junior Vincent White (psychology) and senior Brandon Weaver (mechanical engineering) each picked off passes to thwart EWU drives, and senior linebacker Ryan Bua (hydrology) led the defense with 11 tackles on the night.

"I think our defense did a great job, they limited [Eastern Washington] to only five yards of rushing at halftime. The Eagles are hard to defend, and we were able to keep them off-balanced," said Hawkins.

A pair of one-yard runs by Spencer erased an early deficit to give the Aggies a 14-6 lead early in the second quarter and UC Davis answered each subsequent Eastern Washington score with one of its own, leading 21-20 at the half and 28-20 after three quarters.

Sophomore Max O'Rourke's (economics) 26-yard field goal capped a short drive following White's 41-yard interception return, that set the Aggies up at the Eagles' 21-yard line, giving UC Davis a two-possession advantage at 31-20 with 11:38 to play.

Eastern Washington wasted no time in answering, needing just 1:07 of game time to score touchdowns on back-to-back drives -- the first a 71-yard completion to Nsimba Webster, and the second a six-yard pass to Talolo Limu-Jones that included a two-point conversion -- to regain the lead at 34-31 with 9:23 to play.

UC Davis responded with lengthy drive of its own to take back the lead, as Spencer scampered in for his third score of the game after the Aggies were helped along by a personal foul penalty on fourth down.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Maier (economics), who completed 35-of-55 for 367 yards and a pair of scores, found Doss for 14 yards after a short gain on first down to put UC Davis at the 10, before Spencer reversed field and ran it in to the right side for the 38-34 lead.

The Eagles then mounted a 12-play, 75-yard drive for the winner, converting on 4th-and-2 when Gage Gubrud found Nic Sblendorio for 23 yards, and then hit the senior again in the back right corner of the end zone with 1:37 to play.

UC Davis converted on fourth down once again on its final drive, using a 21-yard grab by Doss to the EWU 33-yard line, spiking the ball to stop the clock. A pair of incompletions set up O'Rourke for a 49-yard attempt with 15 seconds remaining, but his kick was off the mark and the Eagles took a knee to run out the clock and ice the victory.

Justin Williams (political science) finished with 18 carries for 75, while freshman Christian Skeptaris (undeclared) caught his first career touchdown -- a 9-yard score just before the end of the third quarter.

Maier's 300-plus yard passing game is the fifth of the season, and fourth in a row. 

Doss is now responsible for two of the three 200-yard single game totals recorded during the program's Big Sky era by posting his fifth 100-yard effort of the year. He has also scored a touchdown in all but one of the Aggies' six games played this season. 

"I feel bad for our guys because I know how hard they work, and how much they sacrifice and pour into this. These guys played their tails off, battled, and went toe-to-toe in a heavyweight fight, made plays and did not back down," said Hawkins.

"These guys are a special group of people. Now it's time to take advantage of this bye week, rejuvenate our minds and bodies, and then start preparing for the Lumberjacks."

Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley.

The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal, offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.

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