One step forward, two steps back.
A week after playing one of their best games of the year, the UC Davis offense came out flat and ineffective on Saturday, scoring only one touchdown in a 14-7 loss to North Dakota.
The loss drops the Aggies to 3-7 overall and 1-3 in the Great West Conference.
“We were totally out of sync,” Head Coach Bob Biggs said. “We didn’t get any consistency at all.”
The game against the Fighting Sioux started the way many others have this year, with the opponent scoring on the opening drive of the game.
From then on, the contest became a slow defensive grind, with both teams punting on nearly every possession.
Midway through the second quarter the Aggies broke through, tying the game on an 18-yard touchdown run from junior running back Marquis Nicolis.
The final touchdown of the game didn’t come until the fourth quarter, when North Dakota was able to take advantage of great field position after a UC Davis fumble.
After the North Dakota score, the Aggies never came close to tying the game a second time.
“Give credit to [them],” Biggs said. “Their odd front was causing us problems. When we had opportunities in the first half, we threw the interception. In the second half we fumbled the ball away. Right now, we aren’t good enough offensively to make up for those mistakes.”
It was always going to be tough for the Aggies against a North Dakota defense that came into the contest ranked 21st in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Still, the UC Davis offense would have expected to finish with more than the 228 total yards it tallied on Saturday.
Sophomore quarterback Randy Wright was 15-30 for 129 yards with one interception.
“A lot of things went wrong,” Wright said. “[We had] a bad start and it snowballed on us. You’re obviously going to lose games if that happens.”
The end result does not fall squarely onto the quarterback’s shoulders, though.
As often has been the case this year, the run game was unable to really get going. The Aggies would move the ball on one play, and then get bottled up and tackled for a loss the next.
The team finished with 75 rushing yards on 27 attempts. It was the seventh time this year that the team has failed to gain 100 yards on the ground.
As frustrating as the team’s performance feels, the defensive unit deserves a nod for their continued success in stifling opponents.
Defensive coordinator Mark Johnson’s group played well again on Saturday, holding the Fighting Sioux to just 232 yards of total offense.
The defense also came up with an interception and held North Dakota to just five conversions on its 17 on third downs.
“After that first drive when they scored I thought the defense really picked it up,” said junior linebacker Jordan Glass. “We had some big plays and some big stops. We’re just trying to help out [the team] any way we can.”
With the Great West Conference schedule now finished, the Aggies turn their attention to rival Sacramento State and the Causeway Classic, the final game of the 2011 season.
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