Nov. 12, 2011
DAVIS, Calif. - The UC Davis football team committed three turnovers and was forced to punt nine times in its final home game of the season, as No. 22 North Dakota managed to grind out a 14-7 win over the Aggies Saturday at Aggie Stadium.
UC Davis fell to 3-7 on the season with a final 1-3 mark in Great West play, while finishing with a 3-2 record at home. North Dakota improved to 7-3 and 2-1 in conference play. UND remains in the hunt for a share of the Great West Conference title with one league game remaining against South Dakota.
"We didn't have any consistency at all," said head coach Bob Biggs. "Give credit to North Dakota, their front was causing us problems. When we had opportunities in the first half, we threw the interception. In the second half we fumbled the ball away. Right now, were aren't good enough offensively to make up for those mistakes."
The Aggie defense continued to play well at home, holding North Dakota to just 232 total yards and 92 rushing yards. Byron Gruendl finished with a game-high 11 tackles. Jordan Glass recorded eight tackles and had his second interception of the season, while Bobby Erskine added six tackles and three tackles for losses.
UND did just enough on offense, paced by Brent Goska who finished 16 of 30 for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Blair Townsend collected three catches for 28 yards and a touchdown. Jake Miller managed a team best 18 carries for 53 yards.
UC Davis had just 228 yards of total offense, including 153 passing yards. Randy Wright finished 15 of 30 for 129 yards with an interception.
Colton Silveria led the Aggies with 12 carries for 61 yards, while Marquis Nicolis added 37 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Soto posted six catches for a game-high 85 yards.
"All year we haven't been able to win back to back," continued Biggs. "We came out with good energy but didn't play well enough offensively."
North Dakota scored on its opening drive from scrimmage after an 8-play, 72-yard drive, capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Goska to Townsend. The Aggie defense settled in from there, holding UND scoreless for the rest of the half, as North Dakota came up empty on six consecutive possessions.
UC Davis had a scoring opportunity near the end of the first quarter but after driving the length of the field, the Aggies threw an interception on the two yard line.
UC Davis gained some moment in the second quarter, recovering a fumble after a Colton Schmidt punt to take over on North Dakota's 28-yard line. The Aggies took advantage, finding the endzone on a Nicolis 18-yard touchdown rush to make the score 7-7 at the 7:20 mark in the second quarter.
North Dakota missed a 50-yard field goal attempt on the following possession, to keep UND off the board. UC Davis couldn't manage much on offense either, keeping the score tied at 7-7 for the intermission.
The defense for both squads continued to dominate to start the second half with each team coming up empty on six consecutive possessions.
The Aggies halted UND's first drive of the half, as Jordan Glass intercepted a Goska pass at the Aggies' 34-yard line. Three combined punts for both team would follow, bringing a scoreless third quarter to a close.
North Dakota started the fourth quarter with another punt, pinning the Aggies at their own nine-yard line. UC Davis was able to gain some yardage but suffered from two consecutive fumbles, the second of which UND recovered. North Dakota took over at the Aggies' 37-yard line at the 13:08 mark.
UND took advantage of the turnover, traveling 37 yards in three minutes and 31 seconds to make the score 14-7 at the 9:37 mark. North Dakota managed to break a 30-minute scoring drought on a nine yard touchdown pass from Goska to Jon Heimler.
UC Davis suffered from another fumble on the following possession, giving UND the ball at the 26-yard line. The Aggie defense held North Dakota scoreless however, forcing a punt after a tackle for loss and delay of game penalty.
Following consecutive punts, UC Davis had its final scoring opportunity with 3:44 remaining in the game. The Aggies managed to move the ball to midfield before Wright went down with an injury. Austin Heyworth, who replaced Wright, and company couldn't advance the ball further however, as North Dakota took over on downs and managed to wind down the clock.
After a UND punt, the Aggies had one final play remaining with two seconds left but couldn't manage any heroics, keeping the final score at 14-7.
On special teams, Schmidt had plenty work for the Aggies, registering nine punts for 40.3 yards per punt, including a 56-yard punt. Tom Hemmingsen had two punt returns for 38 total yards. For UND, Brent Cameron posted an average of 39.1 yards per punt on eight punts.
Coach Biggs also commented on having a short memory after losses and looking forward to next week's game at Sacramento State.
"Rivalry games are always great that way," he said. "The good thing about this team is they want to win. They will be excited and ready to play next week."
UC Davis will conclude the 2011 season next week, playing in the annual Causeway Classic at Sacramento State on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1:05 p.m.