Fourth-Quarter Rally Lifts UC Davis to Comeback Win

Oct. 24, 2009

Final Stats

PORTLAND, Ore. - Backup quarterback Austin Heyworth threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and kicker Sean Kelley kicked a go-ahead 38-yard field goal with less than five minutes remaining on Saturday as UC Davis won its third straight game with a 34-31 nonconference football win before 5,180 fans at PGE Park.

The Aggies moved above the .500 mark for the first time since last season, winning their second consecutive road game to improve to 4-3. The Vikings, who got two touchdown passes from quarterback Connor Kavanaugh, dropped to 2-6.

The UC Davis defense, meanwhile, had four sacks and shut down the Vikings' attack in the second half. Portland State had just 17 yards of total offense after halftime after picking up 220 over the first two quarters.

Heyworth, a redshirt freshman from Monrovia, Calif, saw his first significant action as an Aggie during the second half of Saturday's game in relief of starter Greg Denham who lacerated his left hand and was forced to the sidelines until late in the fourth quarter. UC Davis trailed 28-17 when Heyworth came into the game in the third quarter.

Heyworth completed 6 of 7 passes for 82 yards, hitting Grant with 14 minutes, 54 seconds left in the fourth to make it 28-24 and then finding tight end Brad Bispo for a 15-yard score with just under nine minutes left to tie the game 31-31. Denham returned on the Aggies' eventual game-winning drive, connecting with Joe Trombetta on a 30-yard screen pass play that helped set them up for Kelley's 38-yarder with 4:40 to play. Kelley also had a 35-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.



"I give Tim Plough, our quarterback coach, a lot of credit," said Aggie coach Bob Biggs. "He had (Heyworth) ready to play. We keep telling people we're not a great football team. We're a good football team and we're going to take contributions from a lot of different players and you never know when you're number is going to be called. Today his number got called and he made some plays."

Portland State, which was directed most of the game by Kavanaugh who started in place of injured Drew Hubel, took a 21-17 halftime lead by scoring on its first three possessions and not punting until just before halftime. Kavanaugh directed scoring drives of 80 and 46 yards in the first quarter, connecting with fullback Bobby McClintock on a 30-yard scoring play for a 7-0 lead, and then handing off to McClintock for a one-yard plunge for a 14-7 advantage late in the period.

The Aggies had answered the opening score with a 10-play, 76-yard drive of their own that was capped by Trombetta's four-yard touchdown run. Denham, who completed 20 of 35 passes for 259 yards despite missing much of the second half, helped tie the game 14-14 early in the second quarter when he threw a 19-yard TD strike to receiver Sean Creadick.

Kavanugh, who was 12 of 18 for 131 yards before being relieved by Justin Engstrom in the fourth quarter, put the Vikings back in front 21-14 with 5:18 left in the first half when he threw a short seven-yard scoring pass to Ray Fray. A late drive by UC Davis helped it set up for Kelley, who hit his 35-yarder on the last play of the half after Portland State called three consecutive timeouts.

The Vikings rushed for 108 yards and passed for 112 more in the first two quarters but were ineffective against a staunch Aggie defense after that. Outside of a 10-play, 12-yard drive in the third quarter, the Vikings ran just 16 plays for a minus-5 yards.

Portland State's defense, however, turned in a big play when it sacked Denham at UC Davis' own 27, forcing a fumble which was scooped up by linebacker Ryan Rau and returned for a touchdown and an eventual 28-17 lead,

Denham's injured his non-throwing hand on the play, providing an opportunity for Heyworth to make just his third appearance of the season. His second drive was an impressive one as he completed all three of his passes and scrambled eight yards for a first down before throwing a strong pass to a streaking Grant in the back of the end zone to help make it 28-24.

A fumbled punt return by Creadick put Portland State at the Aggies' 12 later in the quarter, but the defense forced a 30-yard field goals with 11:23 to play. Heyworth helped lead UC Davis on another scoring drive, this one covering 72 yards on five plays and highlighted by Joshua Reese's 38-yard jaunt up the middle to the Vikings; 34. Heyworth found McDonough for 16 more yards before completing the TD pass to Bispo.

Defensive tackle Jacob Maxson's sack of Engstrom on third-and-long on Portland State's next drive helped force a punt and set up Denham's return. Denham drove UC Davis to the Vikings' 21 with Kelley kicking the eventual winning points.

Portland State punted deep into Aggies' territory late in the game, hoping to get it back for one more drive, but Reese helped put the game away with a key 31-yard gain on third down that put UC Davis on its on 36 with just over two minutes remaining.

Reese finished with 84 yards rushing on just six carries while Trombetta added 60 more on 18 attempts. The pair helped UC Davis finish with 143 yards on the ground while eclipsing the century mark for the first time this season. Chris Carter had a game-high nine catches for 83 yards.

Safety Byron Gruendl and linebacker Mike Morales each had seven tackles for the defense while Maxon, Patrick Michelier and Eric Sobotka each had a sack, Kevyn Lewis and Gruendl were each credited with a half-sack. Five players had a breakup while Michelier and Sobotka forced fumbles.

The Aggies stay on the road next weekend when they return to Great West Conference action at Southern Utah. Kickoff in Cedar City is noon (Pacific).