Teams: UC Davis at Southern Utah
Records: Aggies, 1-4 (1-0); Thunderbirds, 4-1 (1-0)
Where: Eccles Coliseum — Cedar City, Utah.
When: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 1:05 pm
Who to watch?
Coming off of their first win this season, the Aggies’ morale is high after defeating Idaho State University at home on Sept. 28, 30-13. The Aggies must utilize this positive energy and stay focused as they head to Southern Utah, their second away game of the season.
Freshman running back Gabe Manzanares has injected energy and productivity to the UC Davis offense. The young running back from San Francisco, Calif. rushed for a career high 208 yards in the Big Sky Conference football opener against the visiting Idaho State on Sept. 28. Manzanares is now tied with Phil Wintz for 10th on the all-time single game rushing list for the Aggies. Manzanares will surely continue to impress Aggie fans and frustrate opponents.
Another Aggie to watch for is senior quarterback Randy Wright. Although Wright — who started 32 of 33 games coming into 2013 — had lost his spot to Jimmy Laughrea after the season-opening loss to South Dakota, he made an impact off the bench against ISU last Saturday. Wright finished the Big Sky season opener with 201 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The fourth-year quarterback came into the 2013 season having thrown 7,087 yards and 44 touchdowns in his career. He displayed both the leadership and the experience that the Aggies will need if they wish to leave Utah with another win.
Did you know:
UC Davis’ 30-13 victory over Idaho State was Ron Gould’s first win ever as a head coach, let alone as the Aggies’ head coach. When asked how the reality of the experience of his first win measured up to what he thought it would be, Gould gave all the credit to the players.
“This is something they earned — it’s a tribute to them,” Coach Gould said.
Gould took over as Aggie head coach this year after the 20-year run of Bob Biggs. The former running backs coach from Cal has brought with him major changes for the Aggie football program. The changes began to pay off in the Big Sky season opener and hopefully will continue throughout this season.
After losing their first four games, UC Davis’ luck changed as they defeated the Idaho State Bengals, 30-13. Actually, luck had nothing to do with it.
“It’s a culmination of all of their hard work that they have put in,” Coach Gould said. “When you believe something and trust the process, then you’ll continue to work hard — and that’s exactly what these young men did.”
The Aggies’ defense worked just as hard as they have all season and performed exceptionally against the Bengals. Junior safety Charles Boyett led the Aggies with seven tackles. Seniors Nick King and Colin Kelly, juniors Anthony Kaspar and Steven Pitts and sophomore Kyle DeVaughn hounded Idaho State’s senior quarterback Justin Arias all night.
“All season our defense has done a fabulous job of keeping us in the game,” Coach Gould said.
The Aggies’ offense came alive when senior quarterback Randy Wright was brought in to take over for an anxious Jimmy Laughrea in the first quarter.
“They just said ‘start warming up,’” said quarterback Randy Wright. “You don’t have to tell me twice. I’m always ready to play.”
The seasoned veteran was indeed ready and hit senior Tom Hemmingsen with a 20-yard TD pass on his first drive upon replacing Laughrea.
“I was real pleased with how Randy came in, real poised,” said Gould. “He did a fabulous job.”
The Aggies running game was led by freshman running back Gabe Manzanares, who rushed for a career-high of 208 yards.
A win will not come easy for the Aggies against the 4-1 Southern Utah University. The Thunderbirds wrapped up a three-game road stretch with a 27-21 win against Northern Colorado on Sept. 28, which opened up their conference schedule.
Several Thunderbirds will keep the Aggies’ defense busy, including senior wide receiver Fatu Moala and freshman running back Levi Te’o, who scored one of SUU’s three touchdowns in their last game. Aggie defenders will also need to contain junior quarterback Aaron Cantu, who threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns against Northern Colorado.
As Davis football prepares to take on SUU, the Aggies hope to continue their winning streak by “getting back to the basics and finishing with the details,” Coach Gould said.
— Jordanna Baddeley