There were Nick King’s three sacks.
Cornerbacks Dre Allen and Jonathan Perkins made bone-jarring stops in key situations.
UC Davis held Northern Arizona’s All-American running back candidate Zach Bauman to 66 yards — his lowest rushing total in two years.
In addition to defensive end King’s heroics, the Aggies made eight other tackles for losses in Saturday’s 21-10 loss to the Lumberjacks.
UCD got its first lead of 2013 while holding emerging NAU quarterback Kyren Poe to 125 yards passing.
In all, the Lumberjacks could muster only 191 yards in total offense. It was the Aggies’ best defensive showing in almost a decade.
But still, the nonconference game against Big Sky brother No. 22/25 NAU was disappointing.
Local QB Jimmy Laughrea threw two late interceptions — both of which were returned for touchdowns.
UCD couldn’t force a turnover of its own (it has only two this fall).
And when a smallish home crowd of less than 5,000 left Aggie Stadium, the setback meant the Aggies had started a season 0-3 for the first time since 1965.
To first-year head coach Ron Gould, to Laughrea and to King, the reasons for the sluggish start were obvious. The way to fix the problems are clear.
But the question on the lips of most UCD fans: “How soon before the turnaround?”
Gould says his team is close. But he’s tired of the little things going south on his guys. Penalties, wrong routes, overthrows or not being successful deep in opponents’ territory have been making the Aggies crazy.
The coach and his team are probably tired of the questions, too …
“What do you have to do to turn it around?”
“What happened tonight?”
“How are the guys holding up?”
The losses — to South Dakota, Nevada and NAU — have been relatively competitive.
The good news is they’ve all been nonconference.
Running backs Gabe Manzanares, Tavior Mowry and freshman Manu Luuga have been solid (UCD has 366 yards on the ground).
Better news, the UCD defense has been sparkling.
Safety Aaryn Jones has 24 tackles, while linebackers Steven Pitts, Jonathan Bias and Ryan Dimino have been more than able since the loss due to graduation of all-leaguers Jordan Glass and Byron Gruendl.
Even the defensive line has held its position — especially in the 10-7 loss at South Dakota and Saturday’s defeat by NAU.
It has been the little things, and this Saturday things don’t get any easier at Aggie Stadium.
Enter Portland State, the nation’s No. 2 offense.
The Vikings have averaged 615 yards and 43 points en route to a 2-1 record.
PSU gave Cal everything it could handle on Sept. 7, before losing 37-30. In games against Division II schools, the Vikes ran roughshod over Eastern Oregon, 57-17, and Humboldt State, 43-6.
Last year against UCD, in a fourth-quarter meltdown reminiscent of Saturday’s fold, linebacker Ian Sluss forced four, fourth-quarter turnovers as Portland State blew open a close game. (More good news: Sluss graduated.)
The Vikings had 250 passing yards behind now-sophomore QB Kieran McDonagh and added another 280 rushing.
PSU leads the all-time series with UCD, 8-4. It has scored 90 points in winning the last two meetings.
Notes: Ian Joseph, the steady Aggie offensive tackle, should be ready to go Saturday. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior from El Dorado High left the Northern Arizona game with a sprained ankle. Monday, UCD staff listed Joseph No.1 on the depth chart. … Saturday’s attendance of 4.932 was the smallest football turnout at Aggie Stadium. The previous low was 5,368 when Southern Utah was in town on Oct. 30, 2010. In recent history, UCD’s smallest road attendance was 2,800 for a 64-20 shellacking of Western Oregon at Monmouth, Ore., on Sept. 28, 2002. … Luuga (wrist) is expected to miss another week. Meanwhile, Community College of San Francisco transfer Manzanares leads Aggie rushers with 131 yards (4.5 per carry). Mowry is next with 119 (4.2 average) and Luuga’s only outing — against Nevada — was a good one: 81 yards and a 6.2-yard per carry average. … NAU’s Lucky Dozier — whose 78-yard interception went for a TD and spelled doom for UCD — was named ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference defensive player of the week (an honor for which King was nominated). Dozier prepped at Burbank. … Five Big Sky teams are in the Coaches and Sports Net Top 25 rankings. Portland State received votes in one. … For tickets for the Portland State game (6 p.m. kickoff), visit www.ucdavisaggies.com and hit “tickets.”
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.