FOOTBALL'S PLAYOFF HOPES WASHED AWAY IN RAIN-SOAKED CAUSEWAY CLASSIC
Jake Croxdale rushed for a season-high 94 yards against UC Davis.
DAVIS, Calif. — UC Davis’ Sean Kelley’s 21-yard field goal with 6:34 remaining proved to be the game winner as the Aggies defeated Sacramento State, 17-16, in the 57th-annual Causeway Classic Saturday evening at a rain-drenched Aggie Stadium.
Fighting monsoon-type conditions which featured 22-mile per hour winds, constant rain and a 35-minute lightening delay, both teams combined for just 377 yards. It was a game of field position in the second half as only three points were scored in a second half that featured 13 pass plays.
In fact, it was a muffed fair catch deep in Hornet territory by Sacramento State midway through the fourth quarter that set up the winning field goal. The Hornets, who have not been a turnover-prone team all season, lost three fumbles and threw an interception. In fact, all 17 UC Davis points came off Sacramento State turnovers. In addition, kicker Chris Diniz, who rarely missed anything, pushed the extra point wide right after the Hornets’ first touchdown.
With the loss, Sacramento State finishes the season with a 6-5 overall record and ends the year in a three-way tie for third place in the Big Sky Conference standings. The loss dashed any chance of playoffs for Sacramento State which was hoping to reach the postseason for the first time during the Div. I era. The Hornets’ two-game winning streak over the Aggies was also snapped.
Sacramento State opened the game on fire, scoring touchdowns on its first two drives to take a 13-0 lead with 4:58 remaining in the first half. The Hornets scored on the first drive of the game, converting on a 4th-and-1 from the 1-yard line as Jeff Fleming completed a jump pass to tight end Matt Carter in the back of the end zone.
After forcing a three-and-out on UC Davis’ first drive, Sacramento State’s Zach Schrader blocked an Aggie punt and set up the Hornets on the 20-yard line. Six plays later, Fleming found Chase Deadder from four yards out to put Sacramento State up, 13-0.
Schrader then intercepted Aggie quarterback Randy Wright and returned it to the UCD 38-yard line and Sacramento State looked prime to score again. However, an errant pitch attempt by Fleming was recovered by the Aggies and UC Davis scored four plays later (Anthony Soto 23-yard touchdown catch) to cut the lead to 13-7.
Soto would catch another touchdown pass from 16 yards out to give the Aggies a 14-13 lead late in the second quarter. Diniz kicked a 30-yard field goal with no time remaining to give Sacramento State a 16-14 halftime lead.
During the break, lighting forced the field and the stadium to be evacuated. The 35-minute delay combined with the 22-minute halftime and warmups, kept both teams off the field for over an hour.
Both teams kept the ball on the ground for the majority of the second half. Sacramento State attempted just one pass in the third quarter, instead relying on the legs of Jake Croxdale and Fleming to do most of the work.
The Hornets had their chances on their final two drives of the game, driving down to the Aggies’ 33, and 30-yard line, respectively. However, both drives stalled out of field goal range as a McLeod Bethel-Thompson pass on 4th-and-17 with 21 seconds remaining was picked off. Bethel-Thompson replaced Fleming, who had to leave the game with an elbow injury.
Sacramento State ran the ball 58 times for 190 yards, including 94 yards from Croxdale and 88 yards from Fleming. The Hornets completed just five passes, comprised of three from Fleming and two from Bethel-Thompson.
UC Davis rushed the ball 25 times for 20 yards, but quarterback Randy Wright was 12-for-19 for 133 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Soto finished the game with three catches for 49 yards and the two touchdowns.
Defensively for Sacramento State, Schrader finished with seven tackles, and interception, a blocked punt and a pass breakup. Christian Clark added seven tackles and 1.5 sacks, and Peter Buck had six tackles, including two for loss.