For many UC Davis players, it had been their first ever trip to the beautiful state of Hawaii. After Saturday’s one-sided shootout they may not want to go back; at least not in football pads.
The University of Hawaii scored 49 unanswered points in the first half at Aloha Stadium, and then rode their quarterback’s record setting first half performance to a 56-14 victory. The loss drops the Aggies to 1-3 on the year.
“We just couldn’t get anything going in the first half,” said Head Coach Bob Biggs. “We tried to mix it up with the run and the pass, but we couldn’t get anything going. I give credit to Hawaii, they’re a better football team than we are.”
The game couldn’t have started worse for the visiting Aggies. After winning the coin toss and choosing to receive, the UC Davis offense fumbled on only the third play of the game; after what would have been an early first down completion for sophomore quarterback Randy Wright. After a Hawaii recovery, quarterback Bryant Moniz threw his first touchdown pass on the next play, only 67 seconds into the game.
Touchdown passes by Moniz soon became the theme of the first half. The Heisman candidate threw for a staggering 424 yards and seven touchdowns in the first two periods, setting a Hawaii school record and matching the existing NCAA record for touchdowns in a half.
“It’s choose your poison,” Biggs said. “If you try to bring a lot of pressure, then you’re leaving man coverage out there. We tried to change some of our zone pressure, and [Moniz] recognized it and put the ball on the money.”
From a defensive standpoint, the Aggies should consider this game a one-off. UC Davis will not face another team this year with the offensive firepower of Hawaii, a Football Bowl Subdivision team.
The bigger concern right now for Biggs’ football team is the lack of offensive production. On Saturday, after the fumble on the opening drive, the Aggies punted on the six following possessions of the first half, gaining only one first down in the process.
Through the first four games of the season the Aggies have gained only 241 yards on the ground, compared to the 929 through the air. The team will need to stress more offensive balance as they continue to get ready for their Great West Conference Schedule.
Fortunately, the Aggies gained a little second half momentum. The Aggie defense forced a Hawaii three and out to start the third quarter, and then the offense went 73 yards to put their first points on the board. Junior running back Nick Aprile finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Aggie defense held strong throughout the second half, only allowing one more touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Other highlights included a blocked punt by sophomore Jonathan Perkins and a sack and fumble recovery by junior captain Bobby Erskine. Sophomore Earnest Sayles led the Aggies with a season-best 15 tackles.
“We wanted to feel good about ourselves after the second half,” Biggs said. “We wanted to have something to build on going into the bye week.”
The week off will give the team a chance to regroup after a tough opening month to the season. This month the Aggies have played three road games, two of them against FBS schools and the other against a top-10 FCS team.
“[Soon] we’ll be playing teams closer to our level athletically,” Biggs said. “At our level we have a chance to be pretty decent team.”
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