Before UC Davis’ contest with No. 5 Boise State, coach Bob Biggs called the Broncos the best team that the Aggies have ever faced.
Saturday night was a different story, as UC Davis gave Boise State all it could handle before the Broncos finally pulled away late in the fourth quarter for a 34-16 win.
Despite losing, the Aggies were keyed by a strong defensive effort as it limited a potent Bronco offense and forced Bronco quarterback Kellen Moore into committing two turnovers on the night – one coming by way of interception and one coming on a forced fumble.
The defense was also stout inside its own redzone, as three first-half Boise State drives were stalled inside the five-yard line, giving UC Davis momentum.
Safety Danny Hart and linebacker Mike Morales had 14 and 13 tackles respectively for the Aggies.
“[The defensive stands] were pretty unbelievable,” Biggs said. “[Boise State] managed to drive right down the field, but when they got down inside the five-yard line, our defense penetrated very well. So many guys were getting to the ball carrier. I think [Defensive Coordinator Mark Johnson] called a tremendous game.”
For all their defensive success early in the game, the Aggies entered halftime trailing 13-0.
A field goal early in the third quarter finally put UC Davis on the scoreboard, but Boise State responded with a touchdown less than a minute later to make the score 20-3.
Rather than fade quietly into the night, the Aggies responded with a 78-yard drive in a little over two minutes that ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Greg Denham to wide receiver Sean Creadick.
Boise State responded with a touchdown drive of their own to bring the score to 27-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Denham then marched the Aggies 72 yards downfield on the ensuing drive and capped it with another touchdown pass to Creadick. The extra point was missed but the Aggies still only trailed 27-16 with 11:27 left to play.
UC Davis would get no closer, however, as the Boise State defense finally managed to stall Denham and his receivers. The Broncos scored a touchdown as the game was winding down to account for the final score of 34-16.
The final score could not disguise the fact that UC Davis, a Football Championship Subdivision school, gave Boise State, a team with national title aspirations, all they could handle.
“It was a great team effort,” Biggs said. “There was a lot of great individual play, but also a great, great team effort. I told the team that even as a loss, this is a signature game that can tell us where we’re going as a team.”
For the fourth consecutive game this season, the Aggies struggled to run the ball, managing just 28 rushing yards as a team. Biggs said the numbers are deceptive and no cause for worry.
“The truth is that we’ve played four very good defenses and have had some very difficult games,” Biggs said. “That’s not to say we can’t get better but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.”
While the Aggies had trouble running the ball, Denham had an efficient game through the air, completing 24 of 36 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
Overall, the Aggie offense was very protective of the ball, as it did not commit one turnover for the game.
Saturday’s game marked the Aggies final game against an FBS school this season.
Next week they begin Great West Conference play against the South Dakota Coyotes in Vermillion, S.D.
RICHARD PROCTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.