Starting tailback Joe Trombetta was out.
Same with top reserve Brandon Tucker.
But it didn’t matter, as freshmen running backs Corbin Cutshaw and Josh Reese combined for 202 rushing yards to help UC Davis to a 55-24 victory over Iona.
“The offense is obviously clicking right now,” head coach Bob Biggs said. “We got some great production out of Corbin and Josh tonight, which was really pleasing.“
Cutshaw, who rushed for 103 yards on 12 carries and caught six passes for 67 yards, put the initial dagger in the hopes of an Iona team that traveled over 2,800 miles from New Rochelle, New York to Davis.
On the second play of the Aggies‘ opening drive, Cutshaw broke a game-high 56-yard rush to give UC Davis a quick lead.
“I know that I am not the starter,” Cutshaw said. “I am the backup and I know that is my job. But whenever I get called to go in I just try to do my very best.“
His best came right away, as the 56-yarder was Cutshaw’s first carry of the game.
“I’m not always thinking about making a big play,” Cutshaw said. “It just happens. The only things really going through my mind were to just make the right reads, follow my blockers and get up field and it worked out perfectly.
“We had nice blocking on the edge and I cut it up early. I found a nice seam up the middle, and after I got 10 yards up the field, I saw most of the receivers blocking. Chris Carter had the key block on the play.“
UC Davis, which controlled the clock for 35 minutes, continued the scoring brigade on its second drive when quarterback Greg Denham hit Brandon Rice for a 17-yard touchdown.
“I just read the defense,” Rice said. “Greg and I were on the same page on that. It was Cover-2. I just went down the middle and there was a void. [In that defense] the backer runs down the middle but he didn’t get there in time. Greg threw a great ball.“
Denham completed 20 of 30 passes to eight different receivers for 326 yards and five touchdowns. But he couldn’t take all the credit.
“The screen that Josh ran was all Josh,” Denham said. “Chris caught one and it was all him. It was just guys making great plays. It was great plays, great running and great blocking.“
The passing game was not the only dominating aspect of the Aggies‘ offense Saturday night, as they out-rushed the Gaels 295-34.
Reese almost matched Cutshaw’s output with 99 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own. He also turned a screen play into a 43-yard touchdown.
Rice chipped in with four catches for 99 yards and a touchdown while Carter had 54 receiving yards and two scores.
With the victory, UC Davis is now 4-0 at the friendly confines of Aggie Stadium this season.
“I think going back to the night games there is an added atmosphere out there,” Biggs said. “There is an electricity. I think now that we have moved over to the other side of the field and we can hear them [the Aggie Pack] behind us, the players are motivated to play really well. There is just an energy on that sideline. I sense it. I would imagine the players sense it too.“
“I think it is great being home and having the fan base here,” Cutshaw said. “It is like having a 12th man out there.“
Now that the Aggies are back to an even record at 4-4, Biggs expects to see more success from here on out.
“I think we are playing well now,” Biggs said. “We are certainly moving the ball, putting points on the board and those are the kinds of things I think you need to do in order to win. From that perspective, I think we are getting better.“
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org