Fast start fuels Portland State past UC Davis

Nov. 5, 2016

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DAVIS, Calif. - Freshman Jared Harrell caught a pair of touchdown passes for UC Davis on Saturday evening and Keelan Doss hauled in another but visiting Portland State used a quick start that netted 30 first-half points on its way to a 51-29 Big Sky football win before 5,665 fans at Aggie Stadium.

UC Davis lost its second straight game, falling to 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the Big Sky. The Vikings improved to 3-6 and 2-5. Alex Kuresa passed for 384 yards and a touchdown, three receivers - Josh Kraght (104), Maximo Espitia (100) and Austin Holman (108) - each had 100-yard receiving games, and Savali Talalemotu (fumble recovery) and safety Tyler Foreman (interception) each gained turnovers for the defense.

Josh Kraght scored on Portland State's first possession and Jonathan Gonzales kicked the first of his three field goals as the Vikings took a 10-6 lead after the first quarter. Paris Penn had a pair of short TD runs in the second and Gonzales was good from 37 yards as the the Vikings went up 27-9 just before halftime. Doss hauled in a 7-yard TD pass from Ben Scott and Gonzales converted a 34-yard field goal as Portland State went into halftime with a 30-16 lead.

Backup quarterback C.J. Spencer connected with Jared Harrell for a 14-yard scoring play and Spencer ran in from a yard to help UC Davis score the game's final 14 points after the Vikings had opened a 51-16 advantage.

"They executed better than we did," said head coach Ron Gould. "They outplayed us on both sides of the ball. We made way too many mistakes. Blown coverages. Guys not containing."

Doss caught four passes for 91 yards, Harrell had four grabs for 68 yards and Chris Martin had five receptions for 40 yards to help lead the Aggies' offense, which also got 91 rushing yards from Joshua Kelley and 89 from Manusamoa Luuga. Kelley ripped off a 39-yard run in the game while Luuga scampered 24 on his best carry. UC Davis rushed for 190 yards overall.

Linebacker Nas Anesi had nine tackles for the Aggies' defense while linebacker Ryan Bua had eight, including an 11-yard sack.

Trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, Harrell's 11-yard TD pass from Scott capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive but a missed extra point put the Aggies down by a point. The Vikings then rattled off 17 straight points - highlighted by touchdown runs covering 2 and 1 yards by Penn - that pushed the lead to 24-6. Matt Blair had a 36-yard field goal late in the half which was answered by a 37-yarder from Gonzales.

But UC Davis rallied with a 4-play drive that went 70 yards, keyed by three catches for 60 yards by Doss to get to within 30-16 just before the break. Doss' had a 48-yard catch and run down to the 7-yard line that sparked the drive.

Penn raced 34 yards up the far sideline after catching a pass from Kuresa and Nate Tago tacked on a pair of 1-yard TD plunges to give the Vikings their biggest lead, 51-16, midway through the fourth quarter. Harrell's leaping 14-yard TD catch from Spencer with 5:04 to play was part of UC Davis' 10-play, 83-yard drive and helped highlight the Aggies' fourth quarter.

Portland State finished with 602 total yards while UC Davis finished with 408. Kuresa was 17 of 21 for 425 yards while the Vikings rushed for 177 yards. Kelley carried the ball 10 times for his 91 yards while Luuga had 16 carries to reach his 89. Scott threw for 118 yards while Spencer added 100. Gabe Martinez blocked a Gonzales' 31-yard try for his fourth field goal.

"We've got to get back to Aggie Football. I thought we had a great week of practice. I told the team, 'No excuses, no explanations. You win with execution.'", said Gould. "Although we were better on third down, that was something we had to improve on. "We gave ourselves some opportunities (but tonight) we weren't locked in. We've had two really good weeks of practice but, as I told the team, it has got to show up on Saturday. You can't talk about it, you've got to be about it."

UC Davis returns to the road next week when it travels to face Montana State in a Big Sky matchup next Saturday.