UC Davis Earns 45-14 Homecoming Win Over Rams

Eric Soboka, teaming with Byron Gruendl here earlier this season, had a 34-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown on Saturday night. <br> (Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)
 
Eric Soboka, teaming with Byron Gruendl here earlier this season, had a 34-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown on Saturday night.
(Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)
 

Oct. 17, 2009

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DAVIS, Calif. - Greg Denham threw for three first-half scores, the defense held Winston-Salem State to just 79 yards and the Aggies took a 38-point lead at the break, as UC Davis rolled to a 45-14 homecoming nonconference football win before 10,289 fans at Aggie Stadium on Saturday night.

UC Davis won its second consecutive game, evening its overall record at 3-3. Winston-Salem State, from North Carolina, remained winless at 0-6. The game was the first-ever meeting between the programs.

The Aggies had three of their touchdowns over a two-minute span in the second quarter. Jarrett Dunston completed 11 of 19 passes for 152 yards to help lead WSSU.

Denham completed 13 of 16 passes for 220 yards before yielding to backup Austin Heyworth early in the third quarter. He had touchdown passes of seven yards to Chris Carter, 18 yards to Joe Trombetta and 25 yards to tight end Dean Rogers in the first half, with UC Davis adding a one-yard plunge from Josh Reese, a 34-yard fumble return by defensive end Eric Sobotka and a 44-yard field goal by Sean Kelley.

Joseph Gray scored on an 81-yard kickoff return in the third quarter to complete UC Davis' scoring. Winston-Salem State picked up its scores on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Dunston to Lerenzo Barr in the third quarter and a short touchdown by Johnathon Kinzer early in the fourth.

UC Davis led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and 38-0 at halftime.

"It was a good win," said UC Davis head coach Bob Biggs. "We capitalized in the first half on some of their turnovers, and we were able to produce some touchdowns and we got that lead. I was really pleased in the first half, in particular, that we were able to mount some offense and put some balls in the end zone."

The Aggies scored on five of their six possessions in the first half on Saturday night, picking up touchdowns on three WSSU turnovers. A 68-yard passing play to Chris Carter in which Carter rolled over a defender without his knee touching the ground before scampering the rest of the way, helped highlight the Aggies' first scoring drive which was capped by his seven-yard touchdown reception early in the first quarter.

UC Davis' Jordan Brown forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff which was immediately followed by Trombetta's 18-yard touchdown reception. Kelley's field goal - his third from beyond 40 yards this season - opened a 24-yard second quarter for the Aggies. An 11-play, 70-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a 24-yard pass to Rogers, helped set up Reese's short touchdown which made it 24-0 with 6 minutes, 49 seconds left in the half.

Fumbles led to the other two UC Davis scores in the quarter. Nathan Munford's fumble at the 34 was scooped up by Sobotka and returned for a touchdown, the first such play for the Aggies since 2006. UC Davis picked up another turnover on the Rams' next drive, turning that into a 38-0 lead when Denham hit Rogers from 25 yards just two minutes after Reese's score.

Denham enjoyed a productive first half, completing 11 of 14 passes for 209 yards while Carter had four catches for 87 yards. UC Davis, which had 256 yards of offense before the break, didn't punt until after halftime. Freshman Colton Schmidt continued to do a solid job in that department, putting three kicks inside the 20 including a 68-yarder which rolled to the one-yard line.

UC Davis passed just three times the rest of the game while running the ball 21 times.

WSSU picked up its first touchdown late in the third quarter when Dunston hit Barr on the right side of the end zone after the Rams took the ball at the Aggies' 31. An unsportsmanlike penalty helped Gray receive the ensuing kickoff at the 19 and he turned it into a blitzing touchdown return, the Aggies' first since Kevin Freeman went 96 yards at Western Oregon in 2002.

Kinzer scored his touchdown with 12:07 left in the game after Dunston completed a short pass to Omar Kizzie who fumbled it in the air at the 1. Kinzer grabbed it and then stepped across the goal line for the score.

The Aggie defense stifled WSSU throughout the game, holding them to less than 80 yards in the first half. They forced punts on four possessions before halftime and picked up fumble recoveries on the other two. The longest Rams' drive was eight plays for 39 yards early in the third quarter.

Cornerback Jonathan Calhoun and safety Nick Aprile each had interceptions while safety Jeff Freeman, cornerback Jeremy Scott and linebacker Michael Healey each had breakups. UC Davis also recorded five sacks with seven different players getting a hand in that area. Safety Kevin Lewis had a 12-yard sack to help spark that defensive effort.

"We're improving," said Biggs. "We still have a ways to go, but the great thing about this game is we got a chance to play so many players who haven't gotten a chance to play in the second half. That experience is invaluable."

Munford rushed for 46 yards on 14 carries for WSSU while Lamar Whidbee had four catches for 45 yards. Defensive back Wayne Noble had seven tackles.

The Aggies will return to action next Saturday at Portland State. Kickoff at PGE Park is 1:05 p.m.