VERMILLION, S.D. — It wasn’t the result Aggie Nation was looking for in coach Ron Gould’s debut.
Mistakes cost the UC Davis football team on Saturday as South Dakota snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 10-7 victory in the season opener for both schools at the DakotaDome.
“Some holding penalties that called back some big plays,” hurt UCD, Gould told The Enterprise. “We weren’t as sharp as we need to be on offense. We didn’t throw the ball as well as we should have.”
But on defense?
“Our defense played its butts off … they were on the field for a long time. But overall, (I’m) just very pleased with their effort,” the former Cal associate head coach said.
The Aggies and Coyotes came into Saturday trying to the shake the cobwebs from 4-7 and 1-10 seasons, respectively, in 2012.
After watching films of their Missouri Valley Conference foes, Gould told anyone who listened: “They don’t look like a 1-10 team.”
On this day, South Dakota wasn’t.
A short second-period touchdown run by quarterback Josh Vander Maten and a final-quarter, 39-yard Miles Bergner field goal were enough as the Coyotes limited the Aggies to 110 yards passing and kept UCD out of the end zone until just under four minutes remained.
After running back Gabe Manzanares’ 1-yard Aggie score helped make things 10-7, the locals would not touch the ball for the final 3:45.
It was a shaky, scoreless first quarter between two teams looking for new identities.
With Vander Maten and redshirt freshman running back Trevor Bouma assigned to lead the way, South Dakota was searching for the poise that escaped it a season ago. The pair was wobbly out of the gate (combining for only 38 yards of total offense in the first 15 minutes).
Meanwhile, UCD didn’t fair much better …
City College of San Francisco transfer Manzanares coughed up the ball on only his second carry as a walk-on Aggie. Starting QB Randy Wright was off on two of his first three passes — then on No. 4, a Coyote holding penalty saved him from an interception by cornerback Aaron Swift.
Wright was 3-for-6 for the period, good for only 20 yards. He also twisted his left knee on a sack by USD’s Colin Buscarini.
The fourth-year starter limped through a handful of plays before being replaced at the start of the second period by Jimmy Laughrea, the Boise State transfer by way of Rocklin.
Laughrea had a 27-yard “touchdown” pass to wideout Tom Hemmingsen called back by a holding penalty. In going 6-for-10 for 50 yards and rushing for 29 yards, Laughrea had his Aggies in position for a 20-yard field goal try — but Brady Stuart’s last-play-of-the-half attempt was blocked (Stuart missed a 45-yarder earlier in the period).
After halftime, Laughrea would give way to a repaired Wright, who finished the game 7-of-14 for an anemic 60 yards. Galindo led all receivers with five catches (but for only 39 yards).
On offense, it was Manzanares who caught Aggies fans’ eyes.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound junior rushed 18 times for 91 yards and the late TD. The 5.1 yards-per-carry average is promising and after the fumble, he remained a mighty contributor.
“I was pleased how hard (Gabe) ran ball,” Gould added. “He was definitely a bright spot for us and I’m looking forward to him in the next game.”
UCD certainly has something to build upon when film of the touchdown drive is studied.
With 7:31 to go in the fourth, the Aggies took over at their own 25.
On four consecutive first downs, the locals picked up at least 10 yards — including runs of 17 and 19 yards by Manzanares. On third-and-5 at the 8, Wright hit Galindo, setting up a first down at the 2-yard line. Three plays later, Manzanares was in …
On the drive, the Aggies used seven plays and 3:46 to cover 74 yards.
In all, UCD rushed for 157 yards. South Dakota gained 225 on the ground.
Speaking of that “next game.” Both school have dates with Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.
The Aggies will head up the hill for a Saturday meeting at Nevada. South Dakota travels down the Missouri Valley to Kansas.
Notes: There was a scary moment in the fourth period when Kevin Gavigan went down with a neck injury during the Aggies’ lone scoring drive. Taken for X-rays, it was determined Gavigan suffered a neck strain. Gavigan was on the team bus and “looking good,” according to one team official. … Gould is the 16th UCD head coach in 95 years. He has some pretty good company among former Aggie mentors who lost their first outing: the first Davis coach in 1915, R.E. Harmon, lost to St. Mary’s, 9-0; Crip Toomey lost to Oregon State, 14-0 (1928); and Jim Sochor got beat at Occidental, 20-6. … “We felt like we could run the ball on them … and we did that a little bit. But there wasn’t one thing we felt we weren’t prepared for,” said Gould, who added the miscues, the penalties and the “first-game jitters … we’ll get ’em all corrected.” … The announced crowd was 8,012.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.