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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Aggies stampede past Cal Poly to claim the Golden Horseshoe 

UC Davis football’s winning streak continues as they climb in the Big Sky standings

By GABRIEL CARABALLO — sports@theaggie.org

Following wins against Northern Arizona University and Northern Colorado, the UC Davis Aggies claimed the Golden Horseshoe at UC Davis Health Stadium on Saturday, October 29, beating Cal Poly 59-17.

UC Davis won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to the second half, so Cal Poly would start the first quarter from their own 25-yard line. However, the Mustangs’ first drive didn’t last long, as the Aggies’ defense forced a four-and-out situation for the Mustangs, making them punt the football.

The Aggies received the punt and started their first drive of the game. On UC Davis’ first offensive play of the game, fourth-year running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. broke through Cal Poly’s defense and ran for an incredible 59-yard touchdown. Gilliam’s run gave the Aggies an early 7-0 lead. 

The Mustangs were down a score and wanted to even the odds, but UC Davis’s defense kept Cal Poly grounded. On second down, Cal Poly’s third-year quarterback Spencer Brasch was sacked by the Aggie second-year safety Kavir Bains for a 10-yard loss, leading the Mustangs to punt the ball back to the home team. 

UC Davis immediately took advantage of the opportunity, with second-year quarterback Miles Hastings throwing a 30-yard dime to sophomore receiver CJ Hutton — resulting in good field position at the 50-yard line. However, the Aggies did not take advantage of the play as Cal Poly’s defense forced the home team to punt.

Cal Poly regained possession but was only able to muster one first down before being halted by the defense.

UC Davis would gain two first-downs on their next possession before being held at fourth-and-short — the Aggies went for it but were unable to convert the first down, resulting in a turnover on downs. 

As the Mustangs regained possession, signal-caller Brasch threw his first interception of the game to the Aggies’ second-year defensive back Jehiel Budgett. 

The home team took advantage of the turnover with a seven-play, 40-yard scoring drive, capped off with a touchdown run from Hutton. This brought the first quarter to a close with the Aggies up 14-0.

The second quarter began with the Mustangs on offense — Brasch threw an incredible 57-yard pass to third-year wide receiver Bryson Allen, who entered the red zone. In the following sequence, Brasch threw a pass into the endzone, but it was intercepted by second-year linebacker Teddye Buchanan.

“I ended up tipping it to myself and came down with it. I was in the right place at the right time and made the play,” Buchanan said in regard to the interception. 

Thanks to the defensive play, the Aggies were able to put points on the board with a quick four-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Hastings connected with Hutton for 54 yards and the drive ended with Gilliam’s second rushing touchdown of the game. 

Down 21-0 with under 12 minutes left in the half, the Mustangs cruised down the field with two quick first downs, one of which was a 34-yard pass to graduate student wide receiver Chris Coleman. After a quick gain of two yards, Brasch threw a 28-yard pass to second-year wide receiver Giancarlo Woods for the Mustangs’ first touchdown of the game, cutting UC Davis’s lead to 21-7.

On the Aggies’ next drive, things seemed to be clicking as they moved the chains with two quick first downs, but then Cal Poly’s second-year linebacker David Meyer forced a fumble on the Aggies’ quarterback Hastings and Mustangs’ first-year defensive lineman Soni Finau recovered the football and secured possession. 

Cal Poly took advantage of the turnover and put together a seven-play, 35-yard scoring drive. Brasch connected with Coleman for a six-yard passing touchdown, further shrinking UC Davis’s lead to 21-14 with just over five minutes left in the second quarter. 

The Aggies immediately responded with a score of their own though. UC Davis’s drive lasted roughly 50 seconds; the three-play drive ended with a 65-yard passing touchdown from Hastings to second-year wide receiver Justin Poerio to make the score 28-14. 

With about four minutes left in the quarter, Cal Poly showed their grit and went for a nine-play drive, obtaining three first downs in the process. Ultimately, they were held to a 36-yard field goal, whittling away the deficit with a 28-17 score. 

The Aggies had the ball with under two minutes left in the second quarter and three timeouts left. UC Davis gained two first downs before calling a timeout with only one minute left. After an incomplete pass from Hastings, the Mustangs’ defense made a big play — second-year defensive end Elijah Ponder brought down Hastings for an eight-yard loss and caused a third down. 

Even so, Cal Poly wasn’t able to stop the Aggies, who gained 15 yards and converted the fourth-and-short. Shortly after the conversion, UC Davis’ luck continued as the Mustangs’ defense was called for a “roughing the passer” penalty. That penalty got the Aggies into prime field goal range, and before the half ended, fourth-year kicker Isiah Gomez added to their lead with a 30-yard field goal. 

At the half, the Aggies led 31-17. UC Davis started the third quarter with the ball but was met with a four-and-out and forced to punt. However, the Mustangs didn’t do any better during their first offensive series of the half and were forced to kick the ball back to the home team. 

UC Davis started a drive with seven-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter, putting together a quick two-play, 56-yard drive that was completed by a 52-yard touchdown catch from first-year wide receiver Casey Granfors. 

Cal Poly would only gain one more first down in the game, with a 41-yard completion from Brasch to first-year wide receiver Logan Booher during the third quarter. However, the Mustangs didn’t score on the opportunity and were forced to punt the ball back. 

The Aggies’ offense continued to dominate, putting together a lengthy eight-play, 64-yard scoring drive. The score was now 45-17, courtesy of a second touchdown connection between Hastings and Granfors.  

“[Granfors is] a good player, I’m into contributors, not starters,” Head Coach Dan Hawkins said. 

 Many contributors made impacts on the game, including Granfors and Buchanan. The third quarter ended with punts from Cal Poly and UC Davis, giving the visiting team the ball to start the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, the Mustangs did not take advantage and were forced to punt. UC Davis’s offense returned to the field and scored another touchdown, this one two plays for 81 yards with a 67-yard touchdown connection from Hastings to second-year running back Matteo Perez to make the score 52-17. 

With just under 13 minutes left in the game, Cal Poly’s next drive started with a quick first down and a nice 21-yard pass from Brasch to Coleman. However, right after, Brasch would throw his third interception of the game and his second to Buchanan. Buchanan would go on to return this interception for a 65-yard touchdown which would be the last scored touchdown of the game. The Aggies went on to win 59-17.

The UC Davis defense played exceptionally well this week with a total of two sacks, three interceptions and eight forced punts. 

“Our team is so deep,” Buchanan said. “The scout team gives us great looks and the coaches make sure we’re schemed up. It really comes down to execution and we’ve been able to do that.”

Hastings led the game with 22 out of 27 completions, four touchdowns and 435 passing yards. 

“The offensive line has been a huge part, those guys make it really easy on me and the run game is all them,” Hastings said. 

Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. also played very well, ending the night with 139 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Mustangs Chris Coleman finished with 125 receiving yards in the game. 

The win makes UC Davis’s overall record 4-4 for the season so far. The Aggies will play their final home game of the season against Idaho State on Nov. 5.

Written by: Gabriel Caraballo — sports@theaggie.org