Nov. 7, 2009
DAVIS, Calif. - Greg Denham threw for 278 yards and a touchdown, linebacker Mike Morales had 13 tackles and Sean Kelley kicked three field goals - including a school-record tying 52-yarder - as UC Davis beat Great West Conference rival Cal Poly 23-10 before a sellout crowd of 10,849 at Aggie Stadium in the annual "Battle for the Golden Horseshoe Classic."
The victory was UC Davis' first over Cal Poly since 2005 and pushed its overall record to 5-4. UC Davis is 2-1 in the Great West. Cal Poly, which remained winless on the road this season at 0-5, fell to 4-5 overall and 1-2 in league play. Jake Romanelli had 62 rushing yards, including a 42-yard TD run in the first quarter, to help lead the Mustangs.
UC Davis also took a 17-16-2 all-time lead in the series between the two programs.
The victory also sets up a showdown with North Dakota next Saturday at Aggie Stadium with the winner claiming the Great West Conference championship.
"It was a great team win," said Aggie coach Bob Biggs. "So many contributions from so many people. Special teams were big. I really thought that 52-yarder gave us some momentum, and the offense came out and played great football in the second half.
"Our offensive staff made some great adjustments," he added. "The defense took away the fullback dive, and it just seemed like (Cal Poly) didn't have an answer. And then Nick (Aprile) finishing off some of those drives with big third-down plays. It was just a great team win."
UC Davis trailed 10-7 at halftime before scoring the matchup's final 16 points.
Denham completed 21 of 36 passes for 278 yards, tossing his touchdown strike on a 22-yarder to tight end Brad Bispo midway through the first quarter, answering Romanelli's early score and helping the Aggies tie the game 7-7. Chris Pinto's 38-yard field goal with 9 minutes, 28 seconds left in the half capped a 13-play, 77-yard drive and put Cal Poly in front 10-7, a lead it would hold into the third quarter.
Cal Poly faked a punt on fourth down early in the third quarter, turning the ball over to UC Davis near midfield, a possession the Aggies turned into a 42-yard field goal from Kelley to tie the game 10-10. The Aggies' defense forced a three-and-out on the next drive, setting up a 21-yard drive that led to Kelley's career-long 52-yard field goal. The kick eclipsed his previous best of 48 yards at Boise State in early October and tied a school record also held by Tony Rutledge (1975), Rolf Benirschke (1976) and Eddie Loretto (1988).
UC Davis started the fourth quarter inside its own 10 but Denham hit receiver Sean Creadick up the middle for a 33-yard gain, then found Creadick for a 10-yarder later in the drive, helping key UC Davis' push to the Cal Poly 10. Aprile, operating out of the Wildcat formation, then carried three times, driving in from four yards with 9:49 left to help push the lead to 20-10. Kelley's 35-yard field goal with 2:50 remaining capped the scoring.
Morales helped spearhead an Aggie defense that limited Cal Poly to 299 total yards, including just 105 in the second half. He had 13 total tackles, including 11 solo, marking his third double-digit tackles game of the season. Defensive tackle Jacob Maxson and linebacker Brock Butler each had a half-sack while defensive end Eric Sobotka had a two-yard sack.
"After that first drive (the defense) did a great job of stopping the dive," Biggs said. "The quarterback didn't seem like he wanted to carry the ball much, so they were left to pitch the ball. They got us a couple of times on the pitch, but then I thought (we) did a good job.
"Our safeties started to play outside in and force things back inside and they couldn't convert some of those third-and-fours and that was the difference in the game," he added. "It was a great effort defensively."
Morales' total stops put him fourth all-time at UC Davis with 248 while his 11 solo stops jumped him to number two all-time with 133.
Cornerback Kenneth Brown picked up a big play on special teams, blocking Pinto's 37-yard try in the fourth quarter.
Josh Reese finished with 40 rushing yards on just eight carries for UC Davis while April had 38 and Joe Trombetta pitched in with 29. Bakari Grant and Conor Kirkpatrick each had four catches, finishing with 58 and 31 yards, respectively, while Creadick tallied 88 yards on his three grabs. Chris Carter caught three early passes, giving him 195 for his career and putting him second all-time at UC Davis.
Denham's passing yards gave him 5,844 for his career, No. 6 in program history.
Cal Poly quarterback Tony Smith completed 12 of 18 passes for 120 yards while Dominique Johnson had four catches for 36 yards. Linebacker Marty Mohamed had eight stops.
UC Davis will return to action with its home finale next Saturday against North Dakota. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.