Stephen F. Austin Edges UC Davis, 22-19
DAVIS, Calif. - Quarterback Michael Williams found tight end Matt Bodley for a four-yard touchdown pass with 6 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the game on Saturday as No.10 Stephen F. Austin knocked No.21 UC Davis from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 22-19 nonconference win over the Aggies at Toomey Field.
UC Davis, which dropped to 5-1 after the homecoming loss, was not able to tie or take the lead on two subsequent drives after the Lumberjacks' final score. Stephen F. Austin rebounded from its first loss of the season last week and is also 5-1.
Quarterback Jon Grant threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns for UC Davis while receiver Jesse Oliva had six catches for 94 yards. Linebacker Dan Elbanna had a season-high 12 tackles for UC Davis, which nearly held Stephen F. Austin without a score the rest of the way after surrendering two early touchdowns.
Williams completed 13 of 25 passes for 217 yards and a pair of scores, runningback Derek Farmer had 96 yards on 24 carries and receiver Tony Tompkins caught seven passes for 103 yards in addition to throwing a 39-yard TD pass in the first quarter.
"The defense gave us opportunities throughout the game," said Aggie coach Bob Biggs. "But give (SFA) credit, they made some big plays and gave themselves an opportunity to run down the clock."
UC Davis was facing its highest ranked opponent since beginning its four-year transition to NCAA Division I-AA status last year. The Aggies entered the national rankings last week and jumped to No.21 in both The Sports Network and ESPN/USA Today polls this week.
"This game showed me that we are not very far away," said Biggs. "We played a top-10 team and today showed me there is not a huge gap between where we want to be and where we are now."
The Aggies scored 19 unanswered points in the first half after trailing 14-0 less than seven minutes into the game. A 20-yard TD pass from Grant to tight end Daniel Fells got UC Davis on the scoreboard with 5:01 left in the first quarter, while a two-yard touchdown run by Grant with 6:59 left in the first half and a 10-yard pass from Grant to Tony Kays delivered UC Davis a 19-14 lead at intermission.
The Aggies' defense forced four consecutive punts on the Lumberjacks' first four drives of the second half before Stephen F. Austin strung together a long drive in the fourth. Williams hit Tompkins for a 33-yard gain and Farmer had a 19-yard run which helped to set the Lumberjacks up with a first down at the Aggies' 13. Facing a fourth-and-1 at the 4, Stephen F. Austin took the lead for good on a short pass to a wide-open Bodley.
UC Davis was forced to punt on its next possession before the Lumberjacks converted on a pair of key third-down plays on their next drive to help eat up the clock. The Aggies got the ball back with five seconds left but could not score on a long play.
Stephen F. Austin scored early against UC Davis using a little trickery on its first possession. Williams threw behind Tompkins who then tossed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Derek Farmer with 11:39 left in the first quarter. After defensive back Roderic Palmer intercepted Grant at the Lumberjacks' 15, Stephen F. Austin took a 14-0 advantage on a 72-yard scoring strike from Williams to receiver Miguel Toulon with 8:57 left in the quarter.
The Aggies then rallied to take the lead before the Lumberjacks' late score.
Elbanna had 11 assisted tackles in his 12 total stops while linebacker Ben Reece had nine total tackles. Strong safety Dan Reece and cornerback Angelo Caffese each had a pair of pass breakups while tackle Ryan Sharp had a sack. Defensive ends Pila Fatukala and Jake Mossawir shared on a sack against Williams which forced a fumble.
Defensive back Ryan Luedecke had 14 tackles, including five solos, to go with a forced fumble to lead the Stephen F. Austin defense. Defensive tackle Kenneth Winters had a sack.
UC Davis, which was denied its chance to secure its 35th consecutive winning season, will return to Great West Football Conference action next Saturday at Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds are 2-4 after losing 27-21 at North Dakota State on Satruday.