POCATELLO, Idaho - As part of its pregame festivities, the lights were turned out inside Holt Arena when Idaho State took the field before the start of Saturday's Big Sky Conference game. Once action started, it was UC Davis that played lights-out football, and turned in a nearly flawless effort throughout the opening half.
As was the case in last week's Battle for the Golden Horseshoe, UC Davis scored 21 points throughout the first quarter and, just like last weekend, secured another victory. With its 56-17 win, UC Davis spoiled the Bengals' Senior Day, collected its third win in a row in as many games played against ISU, and placed itself one step closer to recording its first winning season in the Big Sky.
Those 56 points are the most scored by the Aggies in the program's Big Sky era, topping the previous mark of 52 that was set on three occasions. One of those totals took place on Oct. 13, 2012, when UC Davis last visited Idaho State.
UC Davis will depart Pocatello, Idaho, with a 5-4 overall and 3-3 Big Sky record while Idaho State will enter its bye with records of 4-6 and 2-5.
It only took the Aggies six plays and 1:42 of game time to cover 75 yards and score the first points of the afternoon when sophomore economics major Jake Maier found Wesley Preece (undeclared) for a 36-yard touchdown strike.
After a three-and-out from ISU on its inaugural possession, senior political science major Justin Williams steamrolled his way for another six points when he rammed his way through the Bengals' offensive line from two yards out.
Williams helped his team's cause earlier in that drive when he caught a six-yard pass on third-and-three, which led to another UC Davis first down.
In all, Williams recorded 92 rushing yards, one shy of a career high, on 16 attempts and scored twice, with the latter taking place on a six-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.
By finishing with 358 passing yards, Maier became the first UC Davis signal caller in nearly a decade to record 3,000 or more in a single season, and will enter next weekend's home finale vs. Southern Utah with 3,025 for the year.
Greg Denham was the last Aggie quarterback to cross the 3,000-yard threshold when he finished with 3,478 in 2008.
From start to finish, UC Davis' defense dominated the Bengals, but it was a key play in the final minutes of the first quarter that immediately silenced the crowd at Holt Field.
On second-and-10 from the Aggies' 27, the Bengals were looking to score their first points until junior American Studies major Anthony Baumgart thwarted their efforts.
What started with a blitz from Baumgart became his first forced fumble of the year when he knocked the ball out of Tanner Gueller's hands before completing the tackle. With a free ball now bouncing around the turf, it rolled to the Idaho State 43 before sophomore communication major Roland Ocansey earned his first career fumble recovery.
Two plays and 34 seconds later, a spectacular diving catch in the end zone from Aaron Moore (undeclared) -- his second highlight-quality TD grab in as many weeks -- pushed the Aggies' lead to 21 points.
Even though ISU scored a touchdown on its ensuing possession, UC Davis responded with another seven points on its first possession of the second quarter.
Before Logan Montgomery (undeclared) scampered into the end zone untouched on a 33-yard pass from Maier, UC Davis converted on third down three times to knock the Bengals on their heels.
On the fourth play of that drive, Maier turned a third-and-one into a first-and-10 thanks to his 3-yard dash. A 15-yard pass to Doss, on third-and-6 pushed the Aggies into ISU territory; Williams set up Montgomery's third TD of the year by gaining seven hard-fought yards on third-and-four.
Throughout the first half, UC Davis' special teams never gave the Bengals an opportunity to generate any momentum; after each Aggie touchdown, sophomore kicker Matt Blair (undeclared) forced Idaho State to kneel in the end zone and start each of its following drives with a touchback.
Blair also recorded a season-high 58-yard punt in the first half, one yard shy of matching his career best.
Once play began in the second half, ISU generated a little momentum by converting a blocked punt into a touchdown, which pulled it within 11 points of UC Davis with nearly 25 minutes of play still remaining.
Those plays became the Bengals' final highlights of the game because the Aggies responded with a touchdown of their own when Maier capped a nine-play drive that covered 70 yards with his first career rushing TD.
As was the case in the first half, a similar pattern took place throughout the second for UC Davis: more touchbacks from Blair — the Bengals took a knee, or let the ball bounce untouched in the end zone on eight of his nine total kickoffs — additional Aggie touchdowns and clutch plays made on defense.
Starting with Maier's TD run, the Aggies scored 28 unanswered points to pull away and record a blowout result.
Included in that scoring run was a Keleen Culberson interception, which led to Williams' second touchdown run, and a pick-six by Josh Januska, which led to his first career touchdown. That 42-yard play, the first interception return for a touchdown since Isiah Olave accomplished the same feat vs. Northern Colorado last October, capped an outstanding team effort by UC Davis, and helped the team set a new Big Sky-era record for the most points scored in a game.
UC Davis will host Southern Utah on Nov. 11 in the team's final home game of the season. Kickoff at Aggie Stadium, against a Thunderbird squad that will head to Davis tied for first in the Big Sky standings, will take place at 4 p.m.
ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley.
The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal, offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.
DON'T MISS OUT!
Tickets for all UC Davis sports are available by contacting the Athletics Ticket Office at (530) 752-AGS1, or by visiting us online at UCDavisAggies.com.
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