According to coach Bob Biggs, no Cal Poly football team that loses to UC Davis in The Battle for the Golden Horseshoe gets its team photo hung in the Mustang locker room.
Thanks to the 2010 Aggies, this year’s Mustang squad will have to hang its picture somewhere else.
A sellout crowd of 11,075 came to Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo Saturday night probably expecting the ranked Mustangs to beat the Aggies.
What the crowd got, though, was a tireless UC Davis team that fought its way out of a 21-0 deficit to stun Cal Poly 22-21.
“As good as it felt to beat them, it felt better to beat them the way we did,” said coach Bob Biggs. “To be completely outmatched in the first half and to completely turn it around and make a comeback to win is incredible.”
Freshman quarterback Randy Wright found receiver Sean Creadick in the back of the end zone with 35 seconds left in the game to tie the score at 21. A Sean Kelley extra point gave the Aggies the lead and kept the Golden Horseshoe in northern California.
The Aggies struggled early on as they fell into a deep hole.
A stifling Cal Poly defense forced UC Davis to punt each of its first five possessions. The Aggies couldn’t manage to drive more than 12 yards at a time in the first half.
Meanwhile, Cal Poly marched the ball up the field effortlessly.
The Mustangs scored in each of its first two drives on a pair of short touchdown runs from the one-yard line.
Cal Poly rolled into halftime with the momentum, capping off a 99-yard drive with a touchdown.
The Mustang defense held UC Davis to just one Kelley field goal in the first half.
“It could have been very discouraging because we didn’t have any answers,” Biggs said. “You think you’re ready, and then you get in there and say, ‘oh baby, this is going to be tougher than I thought.'”
After the intermission, the Aggies found the answers they were looking for. UC Davis moved the ball into field goal range twice to come within 21-9.
Biggs said the consistency from long snapper Joey Waters to Wright holding the ball for Kelley on the kick, not only helped UC Davis in the comeback win – it also made his life on the sidelines a whole lot easier.
“If [Kelley’s] kicking, I can turn away,” Biggs said. “I trust Joey, I trust Randy, and I trust Sean. They trust each other, and they’re a model of consistency. We settled in for the field goals, and we chipped away.”
In the second half, Biggs said it became a matter of the Aggies’ will versus the Mustangs’.
The UC Davis defense forced three Cal Poly turnovers in the third quarter and held it to just 15 yards on the ground in the fourth.
The offense took advantage of Mustang mistakes as Wright found Creadick for a 16-yard touchdown pass for a 21-15 score.
Biggs said the big play of the game happened with just over five minutes left on the clock.
The UC Davis defense stopped Cal Poly running back Mark Rodgers on a 4th and one, regaining the ball and the momentum on the Aggies’ own 30-yard line.
UC Davis made easy work of the Cal Poly defense on the ensuing drive, capping it off with Wright’s winning touchdown pass.
Helping the Aggie defense was Linebacker Byron Gruendl, who supplied a game-high nine tackles and his first career interception.
Wright threw for 302 yards, a new career-high, connecting with eight different receivers throughout the game.
“I’m so proud of these kids and the coaches,” Biggs said. “Being proud of them for winning is one thing, but the way they won is another.”
GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at email@example.com.