Oct. 20, 2012
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Courtney Williams scored on a two-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and UC Davis made a bid to nearly erase a three-touchdown deficit, but No. 16/15 Northern Arizona used a late stand near the goal line to help beat the Aggies 21-7 at Walkup Skydome on Saturday afternoon.
UC Davis dropped to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big Sky while Northern Arizona remained in first place in the league, improving to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the conference.
Marquis Nicolis rushed for 85 yards on 12 carries, including a long run of 28 yards, while receiver Corey Galindo and tight end Taylor Sloat each had catches totaling 58 yards. Linebacker Byron Gruendl finished with a team-high 10 tackles, including a sack, while Jordan Glass had an interception.
UC Davis trailed 21-0 after Austin Shanks ran around the left end for a 78-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. But the Aggies were able to get on the scoreboard with 8 minutes, 5 seconds left in the fourth when Williams capped an 11-play, 61-yard drive by running through the left side for a short touchdown.
Glass then came up big on the Lumberjack's ensuing drive, picking off NAU quarterback Cary Grossart at the 30-yard line with 7:22 left. The Aggies kept the ball on the ground and moved within the 10 but Williams was eventually stopped on fourth-and-2 at the 5 and NAU took over with just under five minutes left.
UC Davis got the ball back with 1:13 to go but was unable to add to its score.
The Aggies and Lumberjacks were tangled in a defensive battle throughout the first half, forcing punts on the first nine drives of the game. UC Davis' longest drive during that span was 37 yards while the NAU offense was stifled to nothing longer than 27 yards.
UC Davis was finally able to break through with a 6-play, 75-yard drive that featured a 14-yard rush from Nicolis at the start and then a 28-yarder that put the ball into Lumberjack territory. The Aggies eventually tried a 33-yard field goal but Brady Stuart missed right.
NAU broke the scoreless deadlock with a 68-yard drive near the end of the first half, finding the endzone with 1:16 to go when Grossart hit Nick Cole from 17 yards.
The Lumberjacks added to their total in the third quarter after Anders Battle caused a fumble by Colton Silveria at the UC Davis 39. Grossart moved the team to the 25 before shoveling a pass to Zac Bauman who raced through the defense for a touchdown.
Trailing 14-0, the Aggies were forced to punt on their next drive and the Lumberjacks scored their third touchdown when Shanks scored his long TD for a 21-0 lead.
UC Davis finished with 308 yards of total offense, picking up 127 yards on the ground, a total that was affected by seven sacks for 50 yards. Quarterback Randy Wright completed 12 of 28 passes for 181 yards and was intercepted twice.
NAU totaled 379 yards, 199 of them rushing. Zach Bauman, who entered the game with 17 career 100-yard efforts, added another with his 122-yard day on 23 carries. Grossart completed 18 of 32 passes for a pair of scores and was intercepted once.
Both punters in the game were kept busy. Colton Schmidt punted seven times for a 46.1 yard average while NAU's Andy Wilder had 10 punts, averaging 46.2 yards.
The Aggie defense had three sacks in the game. Besides Gruendl's, UC Davis also picked up sacks from Walter Earnest and defensive tackle Andrew Benjamin. The defense also totaled 11.0 TFL's including a game-high tying 3.0 from Earnest.
"I thought defensively we did a great job," said Aggie coach Bob Biggs. "I thought we contained Bauman for the most part. He had the shovel pass which was a big play and right before the half he had a big play, but all in all, I thought the defense played well."
"We ran the ball well, unfortunately we couldn't sustain drives," he added. "We just couldn't keep drives going. We had decent field position, we just couldn't finish the drives."
Both defenses were effective on third down. UC Davis was held to just 3 of 15 while Northern Arizona was 3 of 13.
Battle had 14 tackles, including 11 solo, to lead the NAU defense while Marc Thompson had a trio of sacks.
UC Davis will return to action at home next weekend, hosting Portland State at Aggie Stadium at 2 p.m.