#10 Montana Posts Big Sky Win over UC Davis

Manusamoa Luuga rushes during Saturday's game against Montana.
 
Manusamoa Luuga rushes during Saturday's game against Montana.
 

Oct. 12, 2013

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DAVIS, Calif. - UC Davis' Gabe Manzanares rushed for 60 yards and quarterback Randy Wright raced for a nine-yard touchdown run, but No. 11/10 Montana picked up two touchdowns each from Jordan Canada and Ellis Henderson during a 42-7 Big Sky Conference win over the host Aggies on Saturday.

The Grizzlies snapped UC Davis' two-game winning streak, dropping the Aggies to 2-5 overall and 2-1 in the Big Sky. Montana improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in league play.

The game was played before a homecoming crowd of 7,368 fans.

The Grizzlies jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and led 21-0 at halftime before Wright took the Aggies down on their opening drive of the second half and capped it with his touchdown to cut the deficit to just 14 points.

Canada, however, followed with touchdown runs of one and 24 yards to re-open the lead to 35-7. He finished with 126 yards on 24 carries.

Manzanares carried the ball 15 times for 60 yards on Saturday, less than half the carries he head in each of the previous two games when he totaled 383 yards. He had a long run of 12 yards. Freshman Manusamoa Luuga added 41 rushing yards.

Safeties Charles Boyett and Aarynn Jones, along with linebacker Artice Nelson and defensive end Nick King each had seven tackles to pace the UC Davis defense. Defensive tackle Anthony Kaspar and linebacker Steven Pitts each had sacks.

Good field position helped Montana score its first two touchdowns. Wright was intercepted at the UC Davis 32-yard line by Brock Coyle while trying to shovel a pass to Manzanares, leading to a 30-yard pass from Jordan Johnson to Henderson on the next play and giving the Grizzlies a 7-0 lead five minutes into the game.

A 22-yard punt by Colby Wadman on the next series gave the Grizzlies the ball at the Aggie 45 and Montana scored six plays later when running back Travon Van carried it in from 18 yards.

Montana used a 13-play, 83-yard drive midway through the second quarter for its third touchdown with Johnson and Henderson connecting again for a touchdown, this time from 21 yards.

UC Davis had a tough time finding offensive rhythm in the first half, gaining just three first downs and 88 total yards. The Aggies had a chance to get on the scoreboard early in the second quarter but Wright was picked off in the endzone by Bo Tully.

"We have to play better, this is one of the preeminent FCS football schools in the country," said head coach Ron Gould. "If you have opportunities to make plays against these guys, you need to capitalize on them. We threw an interception down there (in the end zone) when we were going to score. (When) you play those opponents, you need to capitalize on those types of opportunities when you have them."

The Aggies, however, picked up momentum at the start of the third quarter with an impressive nine-play, 70-yard drive.

Manzanares carried the ball for the first 17 yards of the march while Wright had carries of 14 and nine yards to help UC Davis move into Montana territory. Luuga added a 13-yard run. Facing a 3rd-down-and-4 from the 9-yard line, the Aggies got on the board when Wright scrambled around the left side and eventually reached the ball across the goal line while falling out of bounds.

"I was encouraged by the way we took the ball down the field to start the second half and scored on a long drive," Gould said. "That's something I challenged my offense to do, and they did it. It is unfortunate that our defense was on the field for as long as they were because they were worn down."

The Grizzlies, though, answered with Canada's short TD run and then added another early in the fourth when Canada was stopped going to his left and circled back all the way to the right to find the endzone from 24 yards.

Backup quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann raced in from 41 yards late in the game to cap the scoring.

T.J. King had three catches for 49 yards, including a nice 41-yard reception along the Montana sideline. Corey Galindo added three receptions. Kaspar finished with 2.0 TFL's for UC Davis while Pitts added a pair also. Pitts and Shamawn Wright each broke up passes.

""We are a good defense, but we need to be a great defense," said defensive end Nick King. "That is our next stepping stone that we want to get to. There are still a lot of games to be played. Yes, we were disappointed after this game but we still have a lot of conference games remaining."

UC Davis returns to Big Sky action next weekend when it travels to Greeley, Colo., to face Northern Colorado on Saturday. The Bears lost 40-26 at Idaho State on Saturday.