Two years ago, quarterback Randy Wright and the UC Davis football team shocked Cal Poly with a stunning second-half comeback to claim the Golden Horseshoe trophy.
When the Aggies returned to San Luis Obispo for Saturday’s game, the stage was set again …
But this time, rather than relinquish a 22-point lead like they did in 2010, the Mustangs held off UCD, 28-20, at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Saturday’s game and the 2010 encounter had everything in common but the end result. Both teams had moments of brilliance and episodes of vulnerability, and Wright led his squad with a strong fourth-quarter push.
In 2010, Wright hit wide receiver Sean Creadick for the go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds left. In 2012, the gunslinger’s last-ditch bomb to T.J. King fell incomplete, giving Cal Poly its first win over the Aggies since 2008.
On Saturday, UCD built a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, then watched as the offense stalled and the defense got burned until the end of the game.
“We just got static in the second and third quarter, (then) tried to pull Déjà vu all over again in the fourth,” Wright said. “It wasn’t enough this time.”
The Ags had serious trouble stopping running back Deonte Williams, who shredded the UCD defense for 193 yards and three touchdowns. All in all, the Mustangs galloped for 336 yards on the ground.
But those numbers speak more about Williams’ talent and less about the strength of coach Bob Biggs’ defense. The main focus within Cal Poly’s offense, the former prep star at Pleasant Grove burned Football Bowl Subdivision Wyoming for 187 yards just the week before.
For the Aggies on Saturday, Byron Gruendl recorded 12 solo tackles and assisted on three more, while Andrew Benjamin’s only tackle was the team’s lone sack.
“I thought (the defense) did great, honestly,” Biggs said after the game. “They hit us for a couple big plays, and part of that was having some young guys in there who were out of position. But when we needed to get the ball in the fourth quarter, they did it for us.”
Big plays like Akaninyene Umoh’s 51-yard touchdown run and Brandon Michalkiewicz’s 30-yard reception were enough to bury the locals, though Wright and his receivers made a couple of monster gains themselves.
The junior QB completed the longest pass of his college career in the second quarter, faking two hand-offs before chucking the ball downfield to Corey Galindo. The sophomore wideout hauled it in past the Cal Poly secondary and sprinted the rest of the way for a 67-yard score.
“We were just trying to be aggressive,” Galindo said. “They want to try to scare receivers into not getting jump balls.”
While every game matters, the Cal Poly matchup takes on a special meaning each year. The Aggies would have loved to win one last Battle for the Golden Horseshoe for Biggs, who will retire at the end of the season.
“This game’s got a lot more emphasis (than a normal one),” Galindo explained. “That’s what makes college football fun, rivalry games like this.”