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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

UC Davis football embarks on first year in Big Sky Conference

The start of a new year at UC Davis signifies two things: first-years and football. This year will be the first year for the Aggies in their new conference, the Big Sky.

Projected to finish 12th in the Big Sky conference preseason coaches’ poll out of 13 teams, the Aggies have been working hard all summer to make a surprise entrance in their new conference. So far the Aggies have gotten off to a tough start, dropping their last three games after a blowout victory in the season opener.

When asked about the difference playing in their new conference senior safety Kevyn Lewis replied, “We have to step up to the increase in the level of competition and we just need to be able to execute better  and understand what our individual assignments are and trust that our other teammates will do the same.”
This year also marks the final year of Bob Biggs as the UC Davis head football coach. Entering his 20th year in his current position, Biggs is trying to leave the football program in the best shape possible after finishing 4-7 last year.
“I didn’t want last year to be my last year and be the end of my career. And I thought maybe I could do a better job and leave the program in great shape,” Biggs said.
UC Davis boasts four players that were given preseason all-Big Sky honors, including Lewis. Lewis is joined on the defensive side by defensive linemen Bobby Erskine and punter Colton Schmidt who are both seniors as well. Senior offensive lineman Ray Wilburn was selected for the offensive side as well as being named to the offensive third-team on the Sports Network All-American team.  Wilburn and the rest of the offensive line will try to protect starting quarterback Randy Wright, who is back as the starter for the third year in a row. Erskine, Lewis, Wilburn and senior offensive lineman Sean Davis are the captains for the Aggies this season.
The Aggies are currently in the midst of a three-game losing skid, losing by one possession in two of the games. The Aggies started off the year with a 41-3 victory over Asuza Pacific where the Aggie defense held the opponents to a total of 218 yards. Meanwhile the Aggies displayed their depth at the running back position, running for 176 yards with seven different ball carriers.
After the home opener, UC Davis went on the road to start their three-game road trip by taking on a San Jose State team that had just barely lost to No. 21 Stanford the week earlier.

The Aggies controlled much of the first half with a 7-0 lead in the late second quarter until San Jose State running back De’Leon Eskridge scored two rushing touchdowns in a 28-second timeframe to spark an unanswered 35-point run by the Spartans. The Aggies eventually lost 45-13 and dropped to a record of 1-1 before heading off to play South Dakota State.

The Aggies’ defense showed their dominance in the game against the Jackrabbits, holding South Dakota State to 14 points while scoring the Aggies’ only touchdown that game.

Junior cornerback Jonathan Perkins returned an interception for 69 yards which was capped off by a successful two-point conversion. The Aggies lost by a score of 12-8 as both teams’ offenses struggled to move the ball. The game contained 16 punts and only two drives of over 50 yards.

The following week the Aggies traveled on the road again to start off their Big Sky conference play against rival Cal Poly in the Battle for the Golden Horseshoe, looking to extend their three-game winning streak in the rivalry. The Aggies got off to a quick start and led 10-0 before the Mustangs scored 28 unanswered points to regain the lead.

UC Davis scored 10 more points after but could not complete the rally and lost by a final score of 28-20. Randy Wright threw for 278 yards, but could not stop the Aggies from dropping the game as their record fell to 1-3.

This upcoming week the Aggies will look to bounce back and snap their losing streak against Weber State on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Aggie Stadium for Homecoming.

JASON MIN can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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