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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Aggies take down Idaho State in final home game of the season

UC Davis extends their winning streak with a 43-3 victory

By GABRIEL CARABALLO — sports@theaggie.org

On Nov. 5, the UC Davis football team entered UC Davis Health Stadium pitted against the Idaho State Bengals for their last home game of the season. 

Idaho State started the game with possession of the football and put together an emphatic first drive featuring a 19-yard run from second-year Benjamin Omayebu and a pinpoint pass from second-year quarterback Hunter Hays to second-year wide receiver Christian Fredrickson for 23 yards. The Bengals’ offense put pressure on the UC Davis defense and entered the red zone, but the Aggies’ defense responded, forcing a fourth-and-goal situation. Idaho State took the safe route and attempted a 35-yard field goal. First-year kicker Ian Hershey successfully converted the attempt and gave Idaho State the early 3-0 lead. 

In a surprising move, Idaho State decided to go for an onside kick but the team was unable to recover the attempt. This failed sequence gave UC Davis incredible field position. On their first drive after the kick, the Aggies gained a first down via a 19-yard pass from second-year quarterback Miles Hastings to third-year tight end McCallan Castles before being halted by the Bengals’ defense. The Bengals caused a fourth-and-long, prompting UC Davis to attempt a field goal. Fourth-year kicker Isiah Gomez stepped up and made a 45-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3. 

The Bengals’ next drive was cut short by a quick four and out, courtesy of the Aggies’ second-year safety Kavir Bains. This was Idaho State’s first punt of the game, but it wouldn’t be their last in the game. On UC Davis’s next possession, their offense put together a five-play, 65-yard series. Hastings threw a 22-yard pass to second-year receiver Justin Poerio and a 15-yard pass to second-year halfback Lan Larison. Second-year halfback Matteo Perez also had an impressive 15-yard run to get them into scoring position. The series was capped off by a direct snap to second-year Trent Tompkins, who rushed for a seven-yard touchdown to make the score 9-3. UC Davis went for a two-point conversion but unfortunately failed to convert. 

The first quarter ended with UC Davis in possession of the ball, which carried over to start the second quarter. However, the Aggies’ offense was stopped by the Bengals’ defense early in the quarter, and UC Davis was forced to punt. Idaho State received the punt, but special teams graduate student Cole Hansen forced a fumble on the Bengals’ returner. Second-year Abe Del Real recovered the football for the Aggies, giving them incredible field position. On UC Davis’s next drive, they would convert a third-and-long after a holding penalty with a 22-yard pass from Hastings to Poerio. However, the Bengals held the Aggies, forcing a 34-yard field goal attempt. Gomez hit his second field goal of the game and added three more points to the team’s lead. 

The successful field goal made the score 12-3 with Idaho State back in charge of the football. Hays started their next drive with a patient 15-yard pass to second-year wide receiver Shane Dailey Jr. to convert a third-and-long. On Idaho State’s next play, Aggies’ fourth-year cornerback Devon King made an athletic play to pick off Hays’ pass. 

However, shortly after the turnover, the Bengals’ defense retaliated with an interception of their own. Bengals second-year safety Quantraill Morris-Walker intercepted Hastings’ pass and returned possession to Idaho State. Unfortunately, in the following play, Idaho State would waste possession with another fumble. 

Second-year linebacker Teddye Buchanan recovered the football for the Aggies and ended the lively turnover battle. This led to UC Davis having optimal field position but the Bengals’ defense held the Aggies to another field goal attempt. Gomez stepped up for his third field goal of the game and extended the Aggies’ lead to 15-3.

Idaho State was down by 12 points and had four minutes left in the second quarter to make a stride for the endzone, but the Aggies forced the Bengals to punt the football once more. Idaho State only used up one minute on that drive and gave the Aggies the ball back with three minutes left in the half. 

UC Davis started with a 22-yard run from fourth-year running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. to give them momentum;  he continued to run the football to wind down the clock. After a strategic timeout with 45 seconds left in the half, Hastings threw a 20-yard pass to Larison and entered the red zone. With no timeouts left, the Aggies’ offense hurried to the ball to save time and get in another play. Hastings then threw a quick pass to second-year wide receiver CJ Hutton, who stepped out of bounds to stop the clock. Immediately after, Hastings targeted Hutton once more, ending their drive and the half with a touchdown. UC Davis put together a tactical 11-play, 71-yard scoring drive and made the score 22-3 at the end of the first half.

Idaho State was down 19 points at the half and Davis retained possession of the football to start the third quarter. Things seemed bleak for the Bengals, but Idaho State’s defense refused to give up. Second-year defensive tackle David Rowe delivered an eight-yard sack and forced UC Davis to punt, giving Idaho State another opportunity to put points on the scoreboard. However, the Bengals’ offense couldn’t capitalize on the play and punted again. 

In the following sequence, UC Davis marched down the field on a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a 29-yard reception from Tompkins and a four-yard touchdown run from Gilliam Jr. to make the score 29-3. 

Idaho State, down by 26 points, continued their offensive slump and punted for the fifth time in their next offensive series. This gave the Aggies another opportunity to put points up on the board, and so they did, with a conservative 12-play, 52-yard scoring drive that took the remainder of the third quarter and concluded with Gilliam Jr.’s second rushing touchdown of the game. 

As the fourth quarter began, the score was 36-3 with UC Davis in the lead. The Aggies would go on to score one more time with a passing touchdown from Hastings to Tompkins to make the score 43-3. The Bengals couldn’t get past the Aggies’ defense and were forced to punt until the final seconds of the game. The Aggies, down by three at the start of the first quarter, would score 43 unanswered points to end the game. 

The Aggies are now on a four-game win streak going into the last two games of the season. 

“It’s fun; I enjoy it. We take everyone seriously since that’s what yields results, and it makes football really enjoyable,” said fourth-year left-tackle Nick Amoah of UC Davis’ winning streak. 

The offensive lineman said the team’s perspective on this streak is that preparation yields progress. 

“I’m happy for the guys, and they’ve put us in a position where we can do some things,” said UC Davis Head Coach Dan Hawkins. 

After starting the season 1-4, the Aggies have won four straight games. They now sit at 5-4 on the season and 4-2 in conference play. The Aggies are in fifth place in the Big Sky Conference and need to win their two remaining games if they hope to get into the playoffs.

However, the road will be tough as they face  third-place University of Idaho next. The Vandals are 6-3 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The Aggies will travel to Moscow to face off with the Vandals on Nov. 12 and end then the season against rival Sacramento State Hornets on Nov. 19. The Hornets are in first place in the conference and boast a record of 9-0 overall. The road to the postseason goes through Idaho and Sacramento, and it will be a tough mountain to climb, but the Aggies just might have the firepower on offense to overcome the final two opponents on the schedule.


Written by: Gabriel Caraballo – sports@theaggie.org