Aggies Open Conference Football Season At South Dakota State

UC Davis is at South Dakota State on Saturday. <br> (Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)
UC Davis is at South Dakota State on Saturday.
(Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)

Oct. 6, 2005

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UC Davis AGGIES (2-2)
South Dakota State JACKRABBITS (2-3)

Saturday, October 8, 2005
11 a.m. (PDT) • Sioux Falls, S.D.
Howard Wood Field (10,000) • natural grass
KHTK (1140 AM) (internet stream)

UC Davis returns to action with its Great West Football Conference opener after taking the first of two byes on the schedule this past weekend... After starting the season 0-2, the Aggies have won their past two games, scoring a season-high 37 in the Sept. 24 win against Sacramento State during the Causeway Classic... UC Davis is not ranked in either top 25 poll but it is the top team among "others receiving votes" by ESPN/USA Today and is second in the same category by "The Sports Network"... In a season that has been done anything but follow a script, the Aggies are 0-2 at home but 2-0 on the road...South Dakota State has seen the opposite happen to it after opening the year with a pair of wins but dropping its last two... Saturday's game will not be played on the South Dakota State campus, but will instead be contested approximately 50 miles away at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls... The road game is the third for the Aggie team this season but the first that requires more than a bus ride... It is also the second game ever for UC Davis in "The Mount Rushmore State", joining the Aggies' 30-13 win at South Dakota State in 1998... The Aggies are beginning a stretch of four consecutive Great West Conference games before taking a two-game break from the league slate.

UC Davis holds a 2-1 advantage in the brief all-time series between the two schools, including a 52-0 season-opening win at Toomey Field last season... QB Jon Grant threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start, earning Great West Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors... Grant completed 16 of 17 passes in the first half for 201 yards as UC Davis, which led 24-0 in the first quarter, went up 38-0 at the half... CB Andy Sullivan helped highlight the defensive effort with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter... The Aggies have won the last two games in the series after losing 17-7 at Toomey Field in the series opener in 1998... The only other game was a 30-13 victory at South Dakota State in 1998, the only matchup in Jackrabbits territory.

All UC Davis games can be heard on KTHK (Sports 1140AM) for the 10th consecutive season... Steve Buzzard (play-by-play), Doug Kelly (color) and Scott Marsh (sidelines at home games, studio for road matchups) headline the veteran crew... KHTK is also the home of the weekly "Bob Biggs Show" which can be heard on Thursdays during the 7 p.m. hour of the Jim Kozimor Showgram... Games can also be heard on KDVS (90.3 FM) student radio with Andrew Tomsky (play-by-play), Josh Koehn (color) and Angela DaPrato (sidelines) calling the action for all home games... Simulcasts of the KHTK broadcasts can also be heard live on the internet at

For the second consecutive season, UC Davis has home games televised on Comcast SportsNet West... The regional sports network televised the Sept. 10 game against Portland State and will do so again when UC Davis hosts Cal Poly on Oct. 29... Jim Kozimor (play-by-play), Mike Lamb (color) and Scott Marsh (sidelines) called the action for the 52nd Causeway Classic on Sept. 24.. Last season, Comcast SportsNet televised UC Davis home games against Sacramento State and North Dakota State as well as selected men's and women's basketball and baseball contests.

Tickets for all Aggie home games can be purchased at Toomey Field prior to the game or in advance at the UC Davis Ticket Office (530/752-1915)... Reserved seats for home games are $15, general admission are $10, seniors (55+) are $7, and UC Davis undersgrads and children under 5 are free... Group tickets and season ticket packages are also available.

With the transition to Division I comes more attention from national media and, as a result, more media outlets referring to UC Davis in a number of different manners. Simply, the university is either "UC Davis" or "University of California, Davis"... Incorrect references we have seen in media outlets: California-Davis, Cal-Davis, U.C. Davis, Cal St. Davis, Davis State and U.C.-Davis... The Aggies thank you for helping them make a new name for themselves on the field only.

UC Davis head coach Bob Biggs (UC Davis '73) owns a 104-40-1 (.721) record in his 13th year at the helm of the Aggies... Biggs earned his 100th career win last year when the Aggies beat Northern Colorado 30-20... He is the second-winningest coach in the history of the program, trailing only Jim Sochor (1970-88) who had 156 victories... Biggs is 49-24-0 (.671) on the road, 62-17-1 (.781) against Div. II teams, and 40-10 (.800) in October... He led UC Davis to eight NCAA Div. II Playoff berths, including the last seven years of the program's eligibility in Div. II ... John Stiegelmaier (SDSU '79) is 50-41 (.549) and in his ninth year leading the South Dakota State program... He has six winning seasons in his previous eight, including a 6-5 mark last year... His 1999 squad finished 8-3, earning him North Central Conference Coach of the Year honors... Stiegelmaier previously served on the coaching staffs at Northern Iowa (1980-81), Northern State (1984-86) and Wisconsin (1987-88) before joining South Dakota State for good as an assistant coach in 1988.

Like UC Davis, the Jackrabbits are in the midst of a four-year transition from NCAA Division II to Division I-AA... South Dakota is in the second year of its transition... The Jackrabbits return six starters on offense and eight on defense from last year's squad which finished 6-5 overall and 2-3 in the Great West Football Conference... South Dakota State opened the year with a pair of wins, averaging 55.5 ppg and giving up just 9.5... During its three-game losing streak, its scored just 9.3 ppg and allowed 24.3, but all three came against teams ranked in the I-AA top 20... South Dakota State is averaging 350.6 ypg of offense, including 199.0 rushing ypg.. RB Cory Koenig (83.8 ypg) and RB Anthony Watson (77.4 ypg) have been the main threats for the rushing attack which averages 5.0 yards per attempt... Watson is running at a 7.2 avg and has 5 TDs while Koenig is at 5.3 and has 4 TDs... QB Andy Kardoes is throwing for 118.4 ypg and has thrown for two scores... WR Josh Davis (21-303, 0 TD) and WR Chris Molitor (11-146, 1 TD) lead the receiving corps... Defensively, South Dakota State is allowing 322.8 ypg of total offense, just 187.0 through the air and 135.8 on the ground... The Jackrabbits have been tough on third down, allowing opponents to be successful just 33 percent of the time... While they've given up nearly half (45 of 92) of their total points in the first quarter, they've permitted just seven points in the fourth quarter all season... DB Hank McCall leads the team with 34 total tackles and is one of five players with an interception... DL Hank Goff and DL Jason Nobiling each have 2.0 sacks... South Dakota has 8 sacks on the year and has allowed 10.

QB Jon Grant earned his second consecutive Great West Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week accolade on Sept. 26 after having a hand in all five UC Davis touchdowns against Sacramento State... Grant completed 21 of 38 passes for 321 yards - his second 300-yard game of the year - with no interceptions while also tossing 3 TDs... Additionally, he ran for a pair of touchdowns (7 yds, 1 yd)... Grant received the honor the week earlier after throwing for 251 yards against Stanford... He joins WR Tony Kays (Sept. 12) as an Aggie winner of the GWFC offensive award... CB Nevan Bergan (Sept. 5) won defensive honors earlier after a pair of an interceptions against New Hampshire.

WR Tony Kays is enjoying the best receiving start to a season in school history... Through four games, he has 47 receptions for 597 yards, posting at least 115 receiving yards in each game... His total receptions and 11.75 rec/game are the most in the I-AA rankings; and his 597 total yards and 149.25 ypg are both second only to Miles Austin of Monmouth (601 yds, 150.25 ypg)... Only Greg Jennings of Western Michigan (I-A) has more catches in Div. I, but his 50 have come over five games... No other player in the I-AA rankings is averaging more than 8.5 rec/game... Kays is on pace for 129.25 receptions this season, which would more than double the regular-season record of 55 set by SE Charley Enos in 2000 and 2001 while crushing the overall mark of 75 set by Michael Oliva in 2001... He needs 9 catches to break Enos' regular-season record... Additionally, his school-record 15 catches against Portland State and 182 yards against Sacramento State are both second-best for a I-AA game this year... Kays' two games with at l50 yards makes him the ninth Aggie to reach 150 twice... John Shoemaker (1996-99) had a school-record five... Kays also needs just one catch and 63 yards (48 for 660) to tie his career totals coming into this season.

Something has to give this weekend when the Jackrabbits' rushing attack faces off against the UC Davis rush defense... South Dakota State is averaging 199.0 rushing ypg., 27th-best in the I-AA rankings and more than any Aggie opponent this year... The UC Davis defense, meanwhile, is allowing just 71.8 ypg on the ground, No.6 in I-AA... The Jackrabbits are averaging 5.0 yds/attempt while the Aggies are allowing just 2.5 yds... No opponent has rushed for more than 100 yards against UC Davis so far this season... South Dakota State has rushed for 10 TDs; the Aggies have allowed just three... At 264.75 ypg., the Aggie defense is 12th in I-AA.

The Aggies continue to make strong showings on third downs... They're making .487 (38 of 78) of their tries, up to 13th-best in I-AA... Conversely, the Aggies are holding opponents to just .250 on third down (13 of 42) which is a good explanation while the Aggies hold a distinct advantage in time of possession (33:38-25:51)... Opponents are 1 for 4 on fourth-down tries, while UC Davis is 4 of 8.

On the win at Sacramento State:
"I think the most pleasing thing was coming off the big game at Stanford it was nice to see that we could really concentrate and focus on another opponent and not get too wrapped up in what had happened the previous week. I thought we executed very well on both sides of the ball."

On the bye week:
"There are just a lot of guys that are beat up. We've had four physical games and so last week we just focused on trying to get back to fundamentals and trying to help people heal. I'm pleased with the fact that we were able to get that done and give some guys some time off."

On the upcoming matchup with South Dakota State:
"They're a very well-coached football team and they play extremely hard. We know that last year was just one of those games where seemingly everything we called was at the right time... They're a good football team. I don't expect it'll be a game like it was last year."

On the UC Davis defense through the first four games:
"They've been very effective against the run and against the pass. I think (it's) the things we talked about early in the season, just about our team speed on defense... I'm very, very pleased with the way they're playing... Given the four opponents that we have played, I think it's probably as good a defensive group and performance in four games - given the level of play that they've been playing - that I've seen around here."

On the play of WR Tony Kays:
"I know people think we are purposely trying to get the ball to him but that's just not the case. The offense just comes his way and Jon's making his reads and Tony's getting open on plays where Jon's making his reads. But Tony is making the most of his opportunities."

On the 2005 schedule:
"It's a difficult schedule but it's a measuring stick and that's what we want. We want to find out what it takes to be one of the elite or top I-AA teams. I think it helps us in recruiting in terms of what kind of players we're recruiting. And I think we're playing with a lot of young players this year so it gives us a chance to build for the future."

The victory against Stanford is the biggest in school history... To that end, it should be noted just how strong a game the Aggies on Sept. 17... A few notes about the matchup:
· UCD outgained Stanford, 361-192, nearly doubling the Cardinal's offense.
· UCD had more plays (90-51), possession time (35:43-24:17), first downs (20-12), rushing yards (110-74), passing yards (251-118) and red-zone chances (3-1).
· Trailing, 17-14 in the fourth quarter, the Aggies had three drives inside the Cardinal 25-yard line... The first two resulted in missed field goals (41, 32 yds) while the remaining resulted with the game-winning touchdown.
· The Aggies allowed Stanford just 97 yards in the second half.
· Stanford averaged just 2.1 yards per rushing attempt.
A few more notes:
· The 31,250 attendance was the largest crowd that UC Davis has every played in front of.
· It was the Aggies' first win over a Div. I-A program since 1986 (Pacific, 45-41) and the first game against an I-A team since 1997 (Idaho).
* The game was just the second meeting ever between Stanford and UC Davis in football... The Cardinal won 59-0 in 1932.

Head coach Bob Biggs knew his 2004 signing class would make contributions but those redshirt freshmen are already big cogs in the Aggies' lineup... Two of them - RG Jonathan Compas and SLB Joshua Edwards - are listed as starters on the most-recent two-deep while seven other positions have a total of six redshirt freshmen listed as backups... OL Mario Gonzalez (6-1, 285) is backing up left guard and center and Max Chesmore (6-4, 275) is doing the same at right tackle... Backup WR Brandon Rice hauled in a one-yard TD pass from QB Jon Grant with 1:31 left against New Hampshire as UC Davis took a late 13-10 lead... On the defensive side of the ball, LE Thomas Blake, RT John Faletoese and FS Nero Evero are also key backups.

It's nice to have your top tackler return and maybe even your top two. But the Aggies welcome back their top three stoppers to help anchor an active defensive unit... All three were honored by the Great West Football Conference last year... MLB Dan Elbanna had 84 total tackles and DT Ryan Sharp posted 49 on their way to second-team all-league honors while WLB Ben Reece finished with 53 and was selected honorable mention... The trio also combined for 7.5 sacks and 30 tackles-for-losses.

You don't average 400 yards off offense (as the Aggies did in 2004) without a strong line, and you don't do that year after year without some continuity in the ranks... This season, UC Davis returns just two starters in LG Kyle Skierski (6-5, 265, Jr.) and RT Elliot Vallejo (6-8, 295, Jr.) but looks to continue standout play with talented youth... LT Greg Bellasis (6-6, 272, So.), C Timothy Keane (6-4, 280, Jr.) and RG Jonathan Compas (6-3, 265, RFr.) will help form a non-senior offensive line for the Aggies in 2005... UC Davis lost three starters from 2004, including standouts LT Cory Lekkerkerker and C Marc Manfredda... Lekkerkerker was signed to a free-agent NFL contract while Manfredda was selected for the East-West Shrine Game.

No one can accuse UC Davis of ducking behind the cover of an easy schedule... With nonconference games against a pair of I-AA quarterfinalists from last year in UNH and Eastern Washington, the Sept. 17th road game at Pac-10 member Stanford, a long trip to Nacogoches, Texas, to face Stephen F. Austin, and games against Big Sky Conference members Sacramento State and Portland State, it's easy to see why Matt Dougherty (exec. director of I-AA football for The Sports Network), ranked UC Davis' the second-toughest nonleague slate in the country... Two opponents - Portland State and Cal Poly - ranked second and third, respectively... The toughest? Appalachian State who has I-A games against Kansas and LSU on their plate.

Among the streaks UC Davis enters the season with:
· 35 consecutive winning seasons (fourth-longest active streak in collegiate football, and best among non-Div. III programs.)
· 35 consecutive non-losing seasons.
· Having scored in 171 straight games... The last shutout was 19-0 vs. Cal Poly in 1990.
· Having not had less than 200 yards in total offense (according to our records) since a 30-12 loss to Nevada in 1969... That's 392 games.

Charter members of the GWFC, UC Davis begins its second season of competition in the six-team league which also consists of Cal Poly, Northern Colorado, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Southern Utah... Cal Poly and Southern Utah are Div. I-AA members while the others are in the process of reclassifying to I-AA... Cal Poly claimed the inaugural conference championship with a 4-1 record while UC Davis finished alone in second at 3-2... UC Davis punt returner Jesse Oliva was tabbed Special Teams Player of the Year... Aggie returnees honored by the league: QB Jon Grant (first team), DT Ryan Sharp (second), DE Pila Fatukala (second), MLB Dan Elbanna (second), WR Tony Kays (honorable mention) and WLB Ben Reece (HM)... The conference affiliation is the first for UC Davis since the American West Conference (1993) and the fourth overall (Far Western Conference, 1925-81; Northern California Athletic Conference, 1982-92).

Will the real "Ryan Smith" please stand up? How about the real "Chris Carter"? This season, UC Davis has a pair of each, although Ryan Smith and Chris Carter are both redshirting. They're also both on the active roster. Confused? Yeah, me too. Actually, it's true that one of each pair of names is redshirting but WR Ryan Smith (the senior) - the one on the active roster - is making things easier by going by his middle name this season: Blaise (pronounced "Blaze", appropriate for a receiver)... Of course, after catching the game-winning touchdown pass against Stanford, he's made a name for himself another way as well... As for the older Chris Carter, he's a linebacker and has made no mention of altering his moniker.... yet... This is the first time UC Davis has had two players with the same name, let alone two pairs.

TE Daniel Fells was named a preseason first-team All-American by The Sports Network and was third-team pick by

For a while, it looked like UC Davis' run to a 35th consecutive winning season would be no problem... The Aggies vaulted to a 5-0 record, steadily climbing the national polls until peaking at No.21 by both major rankings at the midway point of the season... UC Davis was averaging 45 ppg. and outscoring opponents by nearly 31 ppg... But narrow losses to Stephen F. Austin and Southern Utah gave the Aggies their first two-game losing streak in the same season since 1997... However, a dramatic 36-33 win at No.5 Cal Poly in the eighth game brought home the winning season before losses to North Dakota State and Portland State cooled the end of the season.

UC Davis players elect their team captains following the final game of the previous season and select two from the offense and two from the defense... The 2005 captains are WR Tony Kays, TE Daniel Fells, DT Ryan Sharp and MLB Dan Elbanna... Kays is a junior while the others are seniors.

UC Davis' success on the football can be traced in a major way to the continuity of its staff... Five members of the coaching staff have completed 109 "coaching-years" together, having been together the last 17 seasons... Bob Biggs (27 total years, 12 as head coach), Fred Arp (39th year), Lou Bronzan (22nd year) Mike Moroski (18th year) and Greg Chapla (17th year) make up the impressive group... Oh, and they're all graduates of UC Davis.

The Aggies venture into the world of Div. I-AA football having been one of the most successful Div. II programs... UC Davis finished its Div. II run in 2002 with seven consecutive playoff appearances, including national semifinal showings in 200 and 2001... The Aggies finished with a Div. II-record 18 playoff appearances (one ahead of GWFC rival North Dakota State) and a berth in the 1982 NCAA Championship where UC Davis lost to Southwest Texas State (34-9)... Additionally, the Aggies set Div. II records for most consecutive winning seasons and non-losing seasons, both 34... UC Davis extended both streaks to 35 with a 6-4 record last year, its first playing a Div. I-AA schedule.

Three UC Davis football players began this year, including QB J.T. O'Sullivan (1998-2001) who was with the Green Bay Packers before being released this weekend and then quickly signed by the Chicago Bears... Brothers Brad Lekkerkerker (Oakland Raiders) and Corey Lekkerkerker (San Diego), both offensive tackles, were also in camps before being released and then resigned to their teams' practice squads over the weekend... Brad played at UC Davis in 2002-03 while Corey played 2003-04... Both were undrafted... O'Sullivan was a sixth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2002... Since 1979, UC Davis has had seven QB's drafted into the NFL... Additonally, Khari Jones (1991-93) has enjoyed a long career in the Canadian Football League where he is a former winner of the league MVP award... He is currently with the Hamilton Tiger Cats... Mark Grieb (1994-96) has been a standout QB with the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League and was the 2002 AFL MVP.

UC Davis is beginning its third year of a four-year reclassification to NCAA Division I status... Officially, UC Davis (like all other institutions currently reclassifying) is a Div. II institution until its first active year of Div. I (for UC Davis, that's in 2007-08)... However, the university was required to follow all NCAA Div. I rules and regulations, including those governing scheduling, beginning in 2004-05... Similarly, UC Davis began counting last year as a Div. I team for its opponents strength-of-schedule purposes, started to be included in Div. I stats, and has been added to most media coverage of Div. I athletics, primarily because of its competition... UC Davis will become official members of the Big West Conference in 2007-08 but has been fully integrated into regular-season scheduling in all its member sports.