Nov. 8, 2003
DAVIS, Calif. - Cal Poly scored 15 points in the third quarter - erasing a 14-3 halftime deficit - and then got a key interception by cornerback David Richardson late in the game, as the Mustangs held off UC Davis 18-14 in a collegiate football game played before 7,477 fans at Toomey Field.
Cal Poly won its third straight game, improving to 6-3, while UC Davis had its four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-3.
The Mustangs trailed 14-3 entering the third quarter, but scored 15 unanswered points on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Chris Peterson to Joey Warren early in the period and then later added a 41-yard fumble return for a score by linebacker Jordan Beck.
Cal Poly added a safety with just over a minute left in the third quarter when the Aggies' snap on a punt attempt deep in their territory skidded out of the back of the end zone.
A 43-yard pass play from Ryan Flanigan to Kevin Freeman put UC Davis at the Mustangs' 7-yard line late inside of four minutes to play in regulation, but the Aggies' go-ahead score - a 3-yard run by Freeman with 2:02 left - was negated by a holding penalty. Richardson then dove and picked off Flanigan's pass into the end zone on the ensuing play, ending the Aggies' threat.
The Aggies' defense held the Mustangs to just 16 rushing yards, recording four sacks. Middle linebacker Kelly Valaau, who had 13 total tackles last week, added 12 more on Saturday, while free safety Ejiro Evero added 11. Defensive tackle John Downs had a pair of sacks to go with his eight tackles. UC Davis has allowed just 71 rushing yards in its last two games combined.
"Our mistakes gave them the game and that's the frustrating part," said UC Davis coach Bob Biggs. "Our defense played great but we had some timely mistakes that hurt us."
UC Davis had five turnovers in the game, including three fumbles.
Beck, a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in NCAA Div. I-AA, had 15 total tackles, including three for 11 yards in losses. He also broke up a pass. His touchdown return came late in the third when Flanigan was sacked by Bert Schenone, jarring the ball loose which was then scooped up by Beck at the 41.
UC Davis jumped to an early lead against the Mustangs, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Flanigan to receiver Jesse Oliva with 4:10 to go in the opening quarter. The scoring grab was Oliva's first career touchdown and capped an 11-play, 99-yard drive by UC Davis that began after the Aggies stopped Cal Poly four times inside the five-yard line, including a fourth-and-goal from the one.
UC Davis added another touchdown later when tight end Nolan deGraaf hauled in a 27-yard scoring strike from Flanigan with 11:35 to go in the first half. deGraaf had six catches for 107 yards before leaving the game with injury.
"In the second half we couldn't move the ball effectively against them," said Biggs.
"Nolan was a big loss. Our gameplan was to keep them off-balance and play action was a big part of what we wanted to do. Without him it took a lot of our effectiveness away. We just couldn't get the balance with the run and the pass."
Freshman Nelson Doris had 51 rushing yards for the Aggies, who were held to just 62 overall by the Mustangs. Flanigan completed 13 of 26 passes for 219 yards, while throwing two interceptions.
UC Davis finished with 281 yards of total offense, nearly equal the 284 by Cal Poly, which got 268 passing yards from Peterson. He completed 23 of 41 passes, while throwing an interception to A.J. Avila. Three different receivers had seven catches each for the Mustangs.
Defensive end Kelly Turbin had two sacks for Cal Poly, which like UC Davis, also had a fourth-down stop when it held tackled Flanigan at the 12-yard line on fourth-and-six midway through the fourth quarter.
UC Davis blocked an extra-point attempt by Cal Poly in the third quarter, keeping alive a streak in which the Aggies have blocked at least one kick in each game this season.
UC Davis, needing one more win to clinch its NCAA Division II-record 34th straight winning season, will try for that victory next weekend with a 1 p.m. game at Toomey Field against Central Washington.