Nov. 15, 2003
DAVIS, Calif. - Quarterback Ryan Flanigan completed 24 of 27 passes for a season-high 359 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday, and running back O.J. Swanigan scored three touchdowns, as UC Davis beat Central Washington 41-7 to secure the Aggies' record 34th consecutive winning season.
The Aggies won for the fifth time in their past six games, improving to 6-3 overall with only next weekend's game against 22nd-ranked Northern Colorado remaining on the schedule. Central Washington, which was hoping to earn a spot in the NCAA Division II Playoffs, finished its season 6-4.
Emilio Iniguez rushed for 131 yards to lead the Wildcats, while quarterback Zak Hill completed 22 of 32 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. Moses Lewis caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.
The Aggies led 31-7 at halftime, scoring on each of its five possessions in the first half. UC Davis, which has enjoyed a winning season every year since 1970, extended its NCAA Division II record to 34 seasons with Saturday's win. While in transition to Division I-AA status, the Aggies retain their Division II classification meaning any records or statistics achieved during the provisional period are Division II.
"There have been three decades of winning seasons (and) that's a lot of pressure on this group to keep things going," said Aggie coach Bob Biggs, who also won his 96th career game on Saturday. "We can now take a sigh of relief. We got it and now we can just go out next week and play our best.
"It's what we were playing for this year," he added. "It's the nugget that's out there and is a motivational factor. I'm happy for them, particularly the seniors.
Flanigan, who didn't play the fourth quarter, completed 20 of his first 21 passes , tossing a 41-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jesse Oliva midway through the second quarter and then a 31-yard strike to Swanigan with just over a minute remaining as the Aggies led by 24 points at halftime.
"Mostly, I think we just executed well," Biggs said. "Ryan had the hot hand and our running backs ran hard all day. That is what impressed me the most while I watched the game. Our defense was opportunistic and kept giving the offense the ball."
UC Davis finished with 562 yards of total offense, averaging 8.6 yards per play. The Aggies rushed for 188 yards - Swanigan had a team-high 67 - and threw for 374 yards, with 13 players catching at least one pass each.
Iniguez's fumble at the Aggies' 36-yard line on the game's opening drive was recovered by strong safety A.J. Avila, setting up an 8-play, 64-yard drive for UC Davis which was capped by Swanigan's first touchdown run, an 8-yarder with 9:04 left.
Dusty Apocotos kicked a 32-yard field goal with 4:54 left in the first quarter, putting the Aggies up 10-0. UC Davis drove 75 yards on nine plays early in the second quarter, extending its lead to 17-0 as Swanigan danced in from 25 yards. On UC Davis' next drive, Flanigan completed consecutive passes of 15 yards to receiver Kevin Freeman and 16 yards to receiver Tony Kays before hitting Jesse Oliva on a 41-yard scoring pass with 7:26 left in the half, putting UC Davis up 24-0.
A 25-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Lewis with just under four minutes remaining in the second quarter gave the Wildcats their first score, before an 80-yard Aggie drive was finished off by a pass from Flanigan to Swanigan that was turned into a 31-yard touchdown.
UC Davis had 335 yards of total offense in the first half, including 249 yards through the air as Flanigan completed 17 of 18 passes before halftime. His only pass attempt not completed was deflected by Central Washington linebacker Blake Walker.
"Those may be the best stats I've ever seen passing the ball," said Biggs. "I think it was Ryan's finest hour as an Aggie. A lot of the credit has to go to his receivers. They did a nice job of running with the ball after the catch."
Billy Zeier had a team-high five catches for 39 yards, while Oliva and Swanigan each had four catches. Freeman had a team-high 85 receiving yards on three receptions while Oliva had 78.
Senior free safety Ejiro Evero led UC Davis with 12 total tackles, also forcing a fumble and breaking up a pass. Senior middle linebacker Kelly Valaau posted his third straight game with double-figure tackles, collecting 11 total stops, forcing a fumble and gaining a half-sack.
Linebacker Tom Parisi had the game's lone interception, picking off Hill at the goal line and returning it 25 yards in the first quarter. Defensive end Jake Mossawir had 2.5 sacks and was credited with a blocked field goal. UC Davis has blocked either a field goal attempt, punt or extra-point attempt in each game this year. The Aggies had four sacks overall, totalling 33 yards in losses.
"Central Washington has proved it is a good football team," said Biggs. "For us to come out and play such a thorough game in every facet is very pleasing. We executed well."
UC Davis began its streak of consecutive winning seasons in 1970 under former coach Jim Sochor who led the Aggies through the 1988 season. Bob Foster continued the streak for four more seasons while Biggs has led for the past 11. During the 34-year streak, UC Davis has only needed a win in its final game three times to keep it alive.
"When you look back over the years on the big games we have played, they have usually come in the playoffs or having to win games to get in the playoffs," said Biggs. "This was one of those critical games."
UC Davis and Northern Colorado - which like the Aggies is in its first year of transition to Division I-AA - will begin at 1 p.m. at Toomey Field.