Nov. 2, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. - Gabe Manzanares rushed for a team-high 141 yards on Saturday, becoming UC Davis' first 1,000-yard rusher since Matt Massari in 2002, but rival Cal Poly gained 414 yards on the ground en route to a 34-16 Big Sky Conference football win in the annual "Battle for the Golden Horseshoe" at Aggie Stadium.
The Aggies lost to the Mustangs for the second consecutive year, falling to 3-7 overall and 3-3 in the Big Sky. Cal Poly, which was led by 195 rushing yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Chris Brown, improved to 4-5 overall and 3-2 in the league.
UC Davis trailed just 20-16 early in the fourth quarter after Brady Stuart's 35-yard field goal but the Mustangs capitalized on two Aggie turnovers from that point and turned them into a pair of five-yard touchdown runs by Brown that gave Cal Poly late separation on the scoreboard and the eventual win.
Safety Charles Boyett had a career-high 14 tackles for UC Davis while linebacker Steven Pitts had eight tackles, including a TFL, and a forced fumble. Cornerback Shamawn Wright broke up a pair of passes.
Manzanares' rushing gave the first-year Aggie 1,031 for the season. He's the first player to go over the 1,000-yard plateau since Matt Massari gained 1,274 yards in 2002. He also posted his fifth 100-yard day of the season and his third in a row.
Cal Poly gained 414 yards on the ground, led by Brown's 195.
"We knew that we had to contain the run," said Aggie coach Ron Gould. "There was a third-and-13 late in the game where they gained the first down. That was a critical moment where we could have made a stop. Instead, they gained a first down and made that big play. We had the opportunity to make some plays."
Stuart got the Aggies on the scoreboard first, capping a 42-yard drive with a 30-yard field goal with 3:39 left in the first quarter. Wright was intercepted on UC Davis' next drive and Cal Poly took it 40 yards for their first touchdown after Brown carried it the final 29 yards.
Another Stuart field goal, this time from 26 yards, made it a 7-6 game until Cal Poly used an eight-play, 74-yard drive for another touchdown when Chris Nichols - who earlier in the possession had a 23-yard gain - ran in from a yard out. The Aggies stopped the Mustangs' two-point try.
UC Davis answered on its next drive, moving 66 yards, including a 27-yard pass from Wright to Tom Hemmingsen and two completions to Sloat; the latter covering 16 yards for a touchdown. That tied the game 13-13 at halftime.
Cal Poly rushed the ball well in the first half, gaining 221 yards while Manzanares had 81 yards on the ground for UC Davis.
Slotback Kori Garcia had a one-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, one play after Brown went back to pass but instead kept the ball and ran it 72 yards down to the 1-yard line.
Trailing 20-13, UC Davis got a little closer with Stuart's third field goal of the game with just under three minutes gone in the fourth quarter. The Aggies forced a three-and-out on the next drive and took over at their own 29, however Wright was intercepted by Hubbard at the Cal Poly 39 and he returned it 29 yards to UC Davis' 44. Cal Poly took 10 plays from there with Brown scoring the first of his two late five-yard touchdowns.
The Mustangs got the ball right back on the Aggies' next possession after linebacker Cameron Ontko forced a fumble by Manzanares and Bijon Samoodi recovered it at the UC Davis 43-yard line. Brown ended that drive as well with his second TD of the quarter as Cal Poly opened a 34-16 lead.
"It all came down to executing," Pitts said. "We had our game plan, we knew where the ball was going, we just needed to execute. If we were able to make those tackles, attack the alley, we would have had a better night. We just did not execute tonight."
Cal Poly threw just five passes, completing one for 15 yards. Brown had 22 carries for 195 yards while Nicholls finished with 67 yards on 10 carries. Linebacker Nick Dzubnar had a team-high 13 tackles while Hubbard had eight.
UC Davis finished with 336 total yards, including 148 on the ground and finished with a 32:01-27:59 possession time advantage. Hemmingsen caught six passes for 70 yards while Sloat had five four 54 yards. Boyett added a 27-yard punt return.
"UC Davis did a great job," said Cal Poly coach Tim Walsh. "I think UC Davis is, probably, one of the most improved teams in the league too. They are good on defense. For us to score 34 points, I think we did a great job on offense, I think defensively we got three or four turnovers, again, which helped us secure the game and win the game.
"Credit to them, that running back (Gabe Manzanares) is legit. He's a downhill, tough son-of-a-gun. He's great player."
The Aggies will take their own bye of the season next week before returning to action on Nov. 16 with their home finale against the University of North Dakota. Kickoff is 4 p.m.