UC Davis head coach Bob Biggs could get used to this.
No Hail Marys, no fourth quarter rallies, no suspense – for the first time this season, the Aggies cruised to victory, scoring five straight touchdowns at one point on Saturday in a 49-26 win over Southern Utah University in front of a 10,849-person homecoming crowd.
“Yeah, it’s kind of nice,” Biggs said with a laugh. “We got a complete game tonight. I thought we did some great things on special teams, and I thought our offense played very well tonight…. Defensively, we stopped them when we had to.“
The Aggies‘ complete effort was punctuated during a 35-point scoring run that began late in the first quarter and spanned into the third. Brandon Rice and Brandon Tucker both scored twice while Bakari Grant scored another as the offense kept the aggressive SUU defense off-balanced with screen plays, shotgun draws and halfback direct snaps.
“I thought [co-offensive coordinator Rich] Scangarello did a nice job of the play calling,” Biggs said. “They really didn’t know what was going to hit them.“
SUU (3-4, 0-1) didn’t have much luck figuring out UC Davis‘ defense, either. During the five-touchdown run, the Thunderbirds had five straight three-and-outs with only 10 yards of total offense on 15 plays.
For the game, the Aggies‘ defensive unit had three sacks and six tackles for loss while holding SUU to 13 rushing yards.
“Altogether, I feel like we finally played a total game,” defensive tackle John Faletoese said.
Trailing 42-13, the Thunderbirds ultimately responded to the 35-0 run with a pair of touchdown passes from Cody Stone to Tysson Poots.
The Thunderbirds wouldn’t get to within a score, but after playing five games this season that have been decided by five points or less, Grant said he couldn’t take the team’s late lead for granted.
“Just because we’ve had so many close games in the fourth quarter, I’m always on toes, always ready to keep going,” Grant said. “We can’t ease up in the fourth quarter if we want to finish games.“
In the next two series, UC Davis made sure it finished.
Nero Evero intercepted Stone, setting up the Aggies‘ offense at their own 41. Seven plays later, Denham found Grant wide open on the right side of the end zone for the game’s final score.
The 23-point victory margin was the largest of the season for UC Davis (3-4, 1-0), which lost two running backs in the game.
Joe Trombetta left in the first quarter and Tucker exited in the third, both with a mild medial collateral ligament sprain.
The two injuries aren’t expected to be serious, but Biggs said the team wouldn’t know for sure until later today.
Redshirt freshman Corbin Cutshaw saw most of the team’s carries after Tucker left the game, carrying the ball 12 times for 76 yards to lead all rushers.
Denham went 28-of-39 for 274 yards and four touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked once in the entire game.
Stone was 21-for-41 with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Poots caught eight passes for 144 yards and all four of the team’s scores.
MICHAEL GEHLKEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.