Enterprise staff writer
OGDEN, Utah Ñ It would be hard to fault UC Davis head football coach Bob Biggs if he feels like heÕs stuck in a mad lib nightmare.
Each week, the Aggies take a step forward in one key area, struggle in another, and have one key stat that keeps the team from getting the type of result it is hoping for.
Filling in the blanks on Saturday against Weber State, those key words were defense, offense and third down conversions, and the end result was the story of UCDÕs 20-9 loss in front of 10,221 fans at Stewart Stadium.
Sean Kelley booted three field goals Ñ heÕs now made 15 in a row dating back to 2009 Ñ but the Aggies were just 3-for-17 on third-down conversions. UCD dropped to 1-3 to mark the third straight season it has had that record after four games.
ÒFirst and foremost, I thought our defense played great,Ó Biggs said. ÒThey hit the one big play (a 60-yard WildcatsÕ touchdown pass) but other than that, I was pleased with how the defense played. We just didnÕt capitalize on the opportunities we had when we got down in their
territory and we had to settle for field goals.Ó
The past two weeks, against Portland State and San Diego, the mad lib pieces were offense (good), defense (struggled) and turnovers (key stat), of which the Aggies had four in each contest. The roles were reversed against the Weber State, as UCD fixed itÕs biggest problem and didnÕt turn the ball over once in the game.
As the Aggie defense was holding Weber State to only 87 first-half yards Ñ Wildcats star quarterback Cameron Higgins was just 6-for-13 for 41 yards Ñ the offense failed to capitalize. Rather than take advantage of a solid running game and decent passing
numbers, UCD settled for a pair of field goals and a shaky 6-3 lead.
On the opening drive, Nick Aprile was tripped up by teammate Anthony Soto on 4th-and-inches at the Aggie 46 out of the Gator formation. The next UCD drive stalled at its 26 when Sean Creadick dropped a Randy Wright pass that would have converted a third down. Soto went low to try to catch a pass from QB Randy Wright on the next possession but the ball hit off his knee and Colton Schmidt came on to punt again.
The Aggies got on the board and tied the game early in the second quarter, but a touchdown was left on the board when Wright overthrew tight end Dean Rogers. Toward the end of the half, UCD drove down to the Weber seven, thanks to a 37-yard strike to Sean Creadick, but the Aggies again settled for three rather than seven.
ÒWe had a lot of missed opportunities,Ó Creadick said after making a game-high nine catches for 100 yards. ÒWe had some errant penalties that knocked us back and dropped balls. ItÕs kind of the same story Ñ miscues that were holding us back from putting a drive together.Ó
The second half featured more of the same as the Aggies only put two extended drives
together. Their march that spanned the third and fourth quarters went 10 plays for 49 yards and ended in KelleyÕs third field goal, though it would have ended on the UCD side of the field if not for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty after a Wright pass fell incomplete on 3rd-and-19.
The only other UCD drive was its last of the game, which ended at the Weber 29 as Wright and Stephen Dunstan couldnÕt hook up.
The Aggies gained 112 yards after the break, but had just 17 yards rushing on 13 carries while Wright completed 10-of-24 passes and the team converted 2-of-10 third downs.
ÒI donÕt know what the statistics were, but we werenÕt very good on third downs tonight,Ó Biggs said. ÒThat really hurt us. At times we ran the ball well, but we got into situations where it was 3rd-and-4 or 3rd-and-5 and we just couldnÕt convert.Ó
After a horrible first half, the Wildcats (2-2) went the other way, gaining 319 yards in the second half including 207 on the arm of Higgins.
Weber State received the second half kickoff and marched down to the UCD 10 before Higgins was intercepted by Dozie Amajoyi in the end zone. The Wildcats finished their next drive, reclaiming the lead for good on a two-yard run from Mike Hoke.
After UCD made it 10-9 with KelleyÕs 42-yarder with 13:19 to play, Weber went 73 yards on 15 plays in over five minutes to push the lead back to four points.
The Aggies then went three-and-out and on the second play of the ensuing drive Ñ which started off with a dropped pass by Mike Cody which would have moved the chains Ñ Higgins hit Joe Collins for 60 yards to put Weber up 20-9.
Mistakes cost UCD again on its final drive. Wright had Soto wide open for a potential touchdown but couldnÕt connect, and then threw behind Creadick on a ball that could have been caught.
ÒWe needed to make some plays,Ó Biggs said. ÒWhen you get into close games, you have to make plays and thatÕs something I thought they did in the third quarter.Ó
Notes: Kelley improved to 7-for-7 on field goals in 2010 and his streak of 15 straight dates back to a blocked kick against Boise State in 2009. … The average starting position on offense for both teams was their own 25-yard line. … Excluding games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the last time UCD was held without a TD was the opener of the 2003 season, a 9-6 loss to
Division II Grand Valley State. … The Aggies fall to 0-2 against the Big Sky Ñ which the team has agreed to join as early as 2012 Ñ this season, also losing to Portland State, 41-33 in Week 2.
Ñ Reach Conor Tekautz at email@example.com or (530) 747-8049. Comment on this story or check out The Enterprise sports blog at www.davisenterprise.com. To view photo galleries and purchase prints of UCD football visit http://photos.davisenterprise.com