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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Causeway rivals expect a competitive game

By
November 18, 2010 |

Enterprise sports editor

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“This week is special for both sides. You can throw out the records, you know this is going to be a good game down to the end.”

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Well said, Marshall Sperbeck, head coach of Sacramento State, which will come to Aggie Stadium on Saturday to close the regular season against UC Davis in the 57th Causeway Classic.

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“I think last year\’s game is very indicative of the kind of games Sac State and Davis play … the game really came down to those last 20 seconds.”

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Aggie head coach Bob Biggs is probably right when he refers to the Hornets\’ exciting come-from-behind victory in 2009 that was won 31-28 on

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a touchdown pass from McLeod Bethel-Thompson to Brandyn Reed with 13 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, we sportswriter-types don\’t really like to throw out the records, at least when it comes to previewing the game.

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In 2009, one team came into the annual grudge match at 6-4, looking to put the finishing touches on a strong regular season, and the other came in at 5-5, wanting to end the year on a high note by beating its rival to secure a winning season. In 2009, the roles are reversed as the Aggies (5-5) desperately want to finish with a record above .500 — winning seasons are something of a tradition for the program that recently put up 37 of them in a row — and the Hornets (6-4) are clinging to their postseason hopes.

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“For us, sitting at 5-5, we are trying to get a winning season for our seniors,” said Biggs, who also mentioned that he thought, with a win, Sacramento State should be considered for the 20-

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team Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

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Fourteen UCD seniors will be on sideline for the final time on Saturday at 4 p.m., and the atmosphere could hardly be better. At the end of a trying season, in which the Aggies won\’t accomplish their goals of making the playoffs or defending their Great West title, two rivalry games remind the squad what college football is all about.

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“I was telling our players on Sunday how fortunate they are to end the season and have these two rivalry games,”

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Biggs said. “We aren\’t playing for the playoffs or a conference championship, so its nice to have something to play for.”

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Last week, UCD used a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback to edge rival Cal Poly, 22-21, in the final seconds of The Battle for the Golden Horseshoe. That game, in San Luis Obispo, is one the Aggie players will never forget. No matter what happens, Saturday\’s matchup will be too.

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“This is an intense rivalry and it creates a real fun atmosphere,” said wide receiver Sean Creadick, one of the 14 UCD seniors. “To have two games like this at the end of the season, after a tough season, is about as good as you can ask for. We are playing for a lot of pride out there.”

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The Aggie will need every bit of that pride to fuel them against a talented Sacramento State squad. Though the Hornets are 6-4, they have lost Big Sky games to Montana (the FCS national runner-up in each of the last two seasons), Montana State and Eastern Washington by a total of 10 points. Sacramento State has beaten two teams — Portland State and Weber State — that the Aggies have lost to in 2010.

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“The thing we do really well is play as a team,” Sperbeck said. “When we play well in all three phases, we are a pretty good football team.”

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In keeping with that theme, Sperbeck credited his defense when asked to explain how the Hornet offense has been successful this season.

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“When you get short fields and three and outs, it makes things a lot easier for the offense,” said the former Valley High School quarterback. “A big part of our offensive success this year has been the defense.”

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That Sacramento State defense has allowed an average of 14 points a contest on its current three-game winning streak and, during last week\’s 45-17 victory over Idaho State, the Hornet defensive line was dominant. Defensive end Zack Nash was unstoppable, recording five sacks, while 270-pound tackle Christian Clark clogged up the middle. Weakside linebacker Peter Buck, who leads the team with 90 tackles, and safety Zach Shrader (70 tackles) give Sac State playmakers at each level.

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“Sac State is a very balanced team,” Biggs said. “Their defense is pretty darn good, they have a lot of players that can put a lot pressure on you. When I look at their defense, I see a team that trusts each other, so we are going to have our hands full.”

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Notes: To put Buck\’s huge game last week in perspective, the Aggies have just 15 sacks all year and Eric Sobotka leads the team with four. The Hornets have 25 sacks so far this season, 13 of them by Buck. … The 14 UCD seniors who will be done playing after this game are Creadick, Sobotka, LB Dozie Amajoyi, LB Marshall Congdon, S Jeff Freeman, S Danny Hart, OL Reggie Mason, DL Tom McConnell, DB Marcus North, TE Dean Rogers, OL Brandon Sofley, OL Mark Tos, RB Joe Trombetta, RB Brandon Tucker.

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