Entering the last road game of head football coach Bob Bigg’s career, the Aggies were determined to try and upset the sixth-ranked team in the nation, Eastern Washington.
The Aggies led 28-24 in the middle of the fourth quarter but could not respond when Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams rushed for a touchdown with 8:13 left on the clock. With the score at 31-28, the Aggies tried a 52-yard field goal at the 41-second mark to tie up the game, but the attempt was blocked.
This was the fourth game this year the Aggies lost by one possession or less.
“Another tough loss, it’s been the story of the year,” Biggs said. “We were back to playing really spirited and tough football today but it’s a shame for the players and coaches who have worked so hard.”
The Aggies fell into an early deficit, trailing 14-3 at the end of the first quarter before the Aggies scored 22 unanswered points in the second quarter.
“We were down early but we weathered the storm,” Biggs said. “I thought we showed great resolve; we just kept fighting and got back into the game.”
The second-quarter scoring outburst was jump-started by a 72-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Randy Wright to sophomore wide receiver Corey Galindo. Then sophomore running back Dalton Turay punched in two short touchdowns to give the Aggies a 25-14 lead going into halftime.
“Dalton Turay was running hard, breaking tackles and giving us inspiration. The offensive line was getting off and I was being smart with the ball and taking chances when I needed to,” Wright said.
The second half was a different story as the offense struggled to score with the tough field position that they were given.
“We moved the ball well but unfortunately we just had 80 or 90 yards to go — it seemed like every time I turned around we were deep in our own territory,” Biggs said.
The Eagles also dialed up the pressure on defense in the second half to stifle the Aggie offense.
“They started blitzing us a little more, caught us in some bad protection and we took a few sacks,” Wright said.
The Aggie defense did a good job preventing the high power Eagles offense from any big plays but eventually their playmakers stepped up and carried the Eagles to victory.
“They are a great team and they have plenty of playmakers who make plays when they need to,” Biggs said.
The one play coach Biggs pointed out was when the Aggies’ defense forced the Eagles into a third-and-long situation.The Eagles quarterback Kyle Padron then hit wide receiver Greg Herd for a 51-yard touchdown to cut the Eagles’ deficit to one possession with 4:17 left in the third.
“That play really hurt us because we were playing pretty well up to that point,” Biggs said.
Seniors Jordan Glass and Nick King each had a sack apiece and fellow senior Reece Ludwig led the team with eight tackles.
The odds were stacked against the Aggies coming into the game, facing the No. 6 team in the nation and an unfamiliar game time temperature of 29 degrees. However, the Aggies did not use this as an excuse for their narrow loss.
“It is cold out here but they had to deal with it and we had to deal with it as well,” Wright said.
This win gave the Eagles a record of 8-2 and also a share of first place in the Big Sky conference. The Aggies dropped to 3-7 and have one game left this year against rivals Sacramento State in the 59th Causeway Classic.
Not only is it a rival game, but it is also the final game of coach Bob Biggs’ career as he announced his retirement at the end of this year. It will truly be a historic game in UC Davis football history and one full of many emotions. Come out to the game this Saturday at 3 p.m.
JASON MIN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.