Enterprise staff writer
Very often, it is turnovers that decide the outcome of football games.
But turning the ball over wasnÕt what hurt UC Davis on Saturday, as it won the turnover battle
4-1. The problem was capitalizing on South AlabamaÕs miscues Ñ something the Aggies have struggled with all year long.
The Jaguars coughed the ball up four times, but the Aggies were unable to make the visitors pay and Sean Kelley missed his second field goal attempt of the game as time expired Ñ fittingly after a Jaguar fumble Ñ in a 24-21 loss in front of an announced crowd of 6,835 fans at Aggie Stadium.
For the season, UCD has scored only three times for 21 points off 13 takeaways.
ÒWe had four of their turnovers and we just didnÕt capitalize or take advantage,Ó Aggie head coach Bob Biggs said. ÒWe missed two field goals and didnÕt get any points off the turnovers.Ó
Down 24-21, UCD (3-4) got the ball back at their
The Aggies moved into South Alabama territory when quarterback Randy Wright scrambled for 11 yards on 4th-and-10 to extend the drive.
But a holding penalty moved UCD back Ñ it eventually ended up with a 4th-and-18 Ñ and Biggs sent Colton Schmidt in to punt. The Jaguars (7-0) gained nine yards on two plays up to their own 32, needing only a yard for a first down to virtually ice the game. But they fumbled the snap and Dozie Amajoyi recovered, giving the Aggies new life.
Following a sack by South Alabama, UCD wide receiver Sean Creadick Ñ who finished with 12 catches for 147 yards Ñ made a spectacular one-handed grab over the middle for a 22-yard gain down to the Jaguars 17. It was there, three plays later, that Kelley lined up for a 34-yard field goal in an attempt to send the game into overtime.
Kelley had made his first eight field goals this season and 16 straight dating back to 2009 before missing a kick two weeks ago against South Dakota. Kelley had already missed from 41-yards away in the second quarter on Saturday and pushed the potential game-tying attempt about a yard wide to the right, sending South Alabama into celebration.
ÒNobody feels worse than Sean does,Ó Biggs said. ÒThe snap at the end was a little low and Randy did a good job of getting the ball down but it threw SeanÕs rhythm off a little bit on his approach. He ended up having to kind of punch it through instead of striding and taking a full swing at it and ended up pushing it right.Ó
The Jaguars blitzed the Aggies early, taking the opening kickoff and driving 74 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown. South Alabama then turned a big punt return into another touchdown, and held a 14-0 advantage less than eight minutes into the game.
Before the first quarter ended, however, the UCD offense answered with a touchdown of its own, when Corbin Cutshaw capped a 65-yard march with a run from three yards out.
Then, the Aggie defense settled in with Jonathan Perkins forcing a fumble that Byron Gruendl fell on. The ensuing UCD drive ended with KelleyÕs first missed field goal, though the Aggies eventually tied the game when Wright and Creadick hooked up for a seven-yard TD just before halftime.
UCD cornerback Jonathan Calhoun returned from an injury to intercept Brennan Sim on the next Jaguar drive, but the Aggies went back four yards and Schmidt punted. Gruendl recorded an interception of his own on South AlabamaÕs first drive of the third quarter, but UCD again went three-and-out and gave the ball right back.
ÒI would have loved it if we could have scored off of one of those because itÕs a real momentum shift,Ó Creadick said. ÒTo get a turnover and then score right after it is an exclamation point. That wasnÕt something we were able to do tonight.Ó
The Aggies took their first lead of the game late in the third quarter, when Wright took the team 79 yards on seven plays and threw a dart to Tom Hemmingsen from 17 yards out. But that was the last time UCD would score on the afternoon.
South Alabama came back with a field goal to make it 21-17 at the end of the third quarter, before Courtney Smith caught a 45-yard pass from C.J. Bennett with 5:29 remaining. On
the previous Aggie drive, UCD was flagged for delay of game at the Jaguar 46 on 4th-and-1, while lined up in the Gator formation.
ÒIt shouldnÕt have come down to the field goal,Ó Wright said. ÒI think we lost this game in the fourth quarter when our defense kept stopping them but we couldnÕt put another field goal or touchdown on the board.Ó
Notes: Wide receiver Anthony Soto injured his hamstring late in the week and missed the game. Hemmingsen started in his place. … The Jaguars improved to 14-0 in their two years of existence. This was the first time they havenÕt led at halftime in their short history. The game also featured the first interception thrown by a South Alabama quarterback in 2010. … The game was the second of three straight at Aggie Stadium. UCD will host Southern Utah on Saturday. … Wright threw his first interception since an Sept. 18 game at San Diego on a
horribly overthrown ball in the second quarter.
Ñ Reach Conor Tekautz at firstname.lastname@example.org 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