It's hard for throwback football players such as Dalton Turay to gauge their performances. Mud and grass stains used to be a fullback's badges of honor, evidence of a job well done.
Now Turay has to wash off grains of ground-up automobile tires that serve as the "dirt" on today's synthetic turfs.
The sophomore fullback scored on one-, five- and one-yard runs in the second quarter Saturday to spark the UC Davis Aggies to a 37-13 victory over the Weber State Wildcats at Aggie Stadium.
Turay became the first Aggie since quarterback Jon Grant in 2006 to score three rushing touchdowns in a game. It was the first-ever Big Sky Conference home game for UC Davis (2-3, 1-1). Weber State is 0-5 and 0-2.
Turay had two short scoring runs in the Aggies' 41-3 season-opening victory over NCAA Division II Azusa Pacific but hadn't found the end zone again until he capped a 68-yard drive with a one-yard blast up the middle. He ended the night with 32 yards on eight carries. He also had three catches for 30 yards.
Turay redshirted in 2010 and did not play in 2011. As a senior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, he earned first-team All-East Bay Athletic League and second-team All-Bay-Area at running back and linebacker.
That explains his penchant for contact as a fullback. So does his prep career as a club rugby player for the Pleasanton Cavaliers. But he was a virtual unknown to the Aggies' coaching staff when he showed up in the fall of 2010.
"Coach Biggs didn't even know who I was," said Turay, who proudly showed off a cut on the bridge of his nose. "I had to start at the bottom and work my way up."
It's been quite a ride and rise. Turay, whose final scoring run put the Aggies up 31-0 late in the first half, had an impressive Blue-Gold scrimmage, and Aggies coach Bob Biggs rewarded him with a full-ride scholarship.
"He's just so tough in short-yardage and third-down plays with his blocking," Biggs said. "He's arguably our most valuable player on offense right now."
Linebacker Byron Gruendl played every bit as well on defense for the Aggies as Turay did on offense. The senior from San Ramon Valley High had seven tackles and two interceptions. Gruendl, the team's co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, entered the game with two career interceptions.
"It's not like we had a different scheme for Weber State," Gruendl said. "We don't change much and would have the same scheme if we were playing the (San Francisco) 49ers in a Walmart parking lot. The difference tonight is he threw my way."
Gruendl was an All-Great West Conference second-team pick in 2011 and an accomplished swimmer in high school, earning National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association All-America honors in two freestyle relays.
The Aggies started the game in a no-huddle offense and went on a seven-play, 62-yard drive capped by a 17-yard scoring toss from Randy Wright to wide receiver Tim Benton.
Benton made a one-handed catch at the 2-yard line that was worthy of an ESPN "Dunh, Dunh, Duh" and fell backward into the end zone. The rout was on.
Brady Stuart had a 44-yard field goal in the first quarter to put the Aggies up 10-0. It was a career high for the redshirt freshman. He added field goals of 32 and 40 yards.