With its back up against the wall, the UC Davis football team came out and played its most complete game of the year.
The Aggies were quick and balanced on offense, strong and unrelenting on defense, and avoided costly mistakes in all phases of the game.
The 24-17 victory over the Mustangs brings the Aggies to 3-6 on the season, 1-2 in Great West Conference play.
“I thought the coaching staff did a great job,” head coach Bob Biggs said, referring to his coordinators and assistants. “On both sides of the ball we knew exactly what we wanted to do and were very well prepared. We went out and executed.”
The game started ominously after Cal Poly received the opening kickoff and quickly worked downfield before kicking a field goal to take the first lead of the game.
As it turned out, it would be the only Cal Poly score in the first half and its only lead of the afternoon.
Once the Aggie offense got the ball in their hands, it sped it up and spread it out — going no huddle with an empty backfield to start the game.
The tactic worked perfectly.
Quarterback Randy Wright was 5-5 on the first drive of the day, capping it with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tom Hemmingsen to regain the early lead.
The offense didn’t slow down after that, using a balanced attack to consistently move the chains throughout the game.
A strong performance from the offensive line led to 149 rushing yards for the Aggies, only the third time they’ve gone above 100 this year.
It was running back Colton Silveria who was best able to take advantage of space provided, busting free for 65 yards and two touchdowns in the game. He also added 48 receiving yards.
Silveria was named College Sports Madness Great West Player of the Week for his effort, the first such award the Aggies have garnered this year.
Overheard in the Aggie Stadium press box, with UC Davis leading 21-3 at halftime, was a simple question, “Was that Randy Wright or Tom Brady out there?”
Such was the difference between the Aggie offense from earlier this season and Saturday against Cal Poly.
It was in fact Randy Wright who was on the field, and who finished the game 14-20 for 203 yards and 26 yards rushing.
“He played with great composure [and] saw everything really well,” Biggs said of his quarterback. “He made some great changes at the line of scrimmage for our run game to be effective. Randy was having fun and I just thought he played really well.”
As strong as the offense was, the defense was even better.
The Aggies shut down a powerful Cal Poly offense that came into the contest ranked first in the conference in total offense and rushing yards.
UC Davis held the Mustangs to their lowest point total of the season, while only allowing them to rush for 174 yards, well below their 240 per-game season average.
Defensive Coordinator Mark Johnson’s group forced Cal Poly into a lot of third-and-long situations, making the Mustang’s triple option attack much less dangerous.
On those third down attempts the Aggies were strong, only allowing Cal Poly to convert on 7 of 21 tries.
UC Davis also recorded five sacks against Cal Poly, compared to just seven from the previous eight games combined.
For the Aggies, the win must feel great, but at the same time frustrating. Biggs described the team’s performance on Saturday as fast and complete, but more than anything, solid.
With losses to Humboldt State and two conference opponents already in the books, UC Davis will now rue the season that could have been, had this team played more “solid” from the beginning.
One thing the Aggies won’t lose sleep over is the Golden Horseshoe, now safely on display in the Bob Foster Team Center for the third straight year.
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