Linebacker Dozie Amajoyi hoped Saturday’s game would end on defense.
He wanted to show a rowdy Homecoming crowd what the Aggies have been working on all season.
With the UC Davis defense backed up on its own 32-yard line and only 11 seconds left in the game, freshman cornerback Jonathan Perkins made a game-saving deflection to secure UC Davis’ 17-13 victory to open Great West Conference play.
“We’re a physical defense and a fast defense,” Amajoyi said. “That’s all we hang our hats on is being able to pursue the ball and make tackles.”
That defense proved its power by holding a South Dakota offense that’s averaged 27.8 points per game at bay.
UC Davis also kept the Coyotes’ quarterback to seven completions on 26 attempts, a feat that coach Bob Biggs says is remarkable.
“[South Dakota] is a pretty explosive offense to hold to one touchdown and two field goals,” Biggs said. “That’s a great effort defensively.”
This group certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the Aggie offense, either.
“Our defense is playing phenomenally right now,” said quarterback Randy Wright. “I couldn’t ask for anything more from them.”
While Wright credited the defense for how it played, Wright’s performance was nothing short of excellent either.
The freshman completed 25 of 34 passes, for 260 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Sean Creadick was Wright’s favorite target, finishing the game with seven catches and 100 yards.
The Aggies finished the first quarter with a 7-6 lead, thanks to a Nick Aprile 1-yard touchdown run.
Kicker Sean Kelley took charge at the end of the half with his 16th consecutive field goal to extend the Aggie lead to 10-6.
The Aggie advantage lasted into the third quarter until Coyote quarterback Dante Warren ran the ball into the end zone, putting the Coyotes up 13-10.
After Kelley’s first missed field goal of the 2010 season, South Dakota took over on its own 28-yard line.
After running for 45 yards on the previous South Dakota drive, the Aggie defense was intent on stopping Warren. Fortunately for UC Davis, Warren stopped himself, fumbling on his own 39-yard line.
Senior Danny Hart was there to recover, and UC Davis would never look back.
The first play after the fumble highlighted the Aggies’ offensive effort as Wright hit tight end Dean Rodgers for a 39-yard touchdown pass to account for the 17-13 final score.
“It was a pretty exciting moment,” Wright said. “Our juices were flowing, defense got a huge turnover, we actually got to throw deep, and Dean made a hell of a play for a touchdown.”
Amajoyi felt the vibe from that same energy.
“Football is a game of momentum,” he said. “We start building off each play. Good things come in pairs and threes and fours, and that’s how you win a game. Someone makes an initial big play and everyone feeds off of that.”
Hart gave credit to the wild 10,352 UC Davis fans for giving the Aggies a necessary boost.
“It was a great atmosphere, and it was just fun,” Hart said. “I don’t know if there was an empty seat over in the Aggie Pack, and it definitely helped us out on the field.”
UC Davis utilized the fans, offense and defense to pick up the key win entering a bye week.
The break, however, does not mean the team will take any time off.
“When you have a bye week, people think about resting,” Amajoyi said, “but we’re still going to have intense practices.
“The coaches and captains aren’t going let us slow down.”
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