Ailene Voisin, sports columnist
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  • BRIAN BAER / Special to The Bee

    Aggies coach Bob Biggs greets defensive tackle Khalid Jones after UC Davis beat Sacramento State in the 59th Causeway Classic at Aggie Stadium on Saturday.

  • BRIAN BAER / Special to The Bee

    UC Davis coach Bob Biggs, right, greets senior Jordan Glass before the kickoff of their final game together. Jordan scored two points for the Aggies when he returned a missed PAT 97 yards.

  • Ailene Voisin

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Ailene Voisin: Rain can't put damper on Biggs' fine farewell

Published: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 - 12:03 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 - 7:36 pm

The rain arrived late in the fourth quarter, slipping off his narrow shoulders, dripping over the front of his baseball cap, soaking into his shoes.

But in his eyes? Those were tears. Tears of reflection after almost four decades with the UC Davis football program, but tears also of satisfaction, prompted by a strange, but sweet career finale Saturday against longtime rival Sacramento State.

Oh. And Bob Biggs got the game ball, too.

"He was a great quarterback here," junior Randy Wright reminded after the Aggies had outlasted the Hornets 34-27 before nearly 10,000 spectators. "I wanted to come out and play really well for him."

Wright didn't enjoy the best day of his career. He was outplayed most of the game by Hornets quarterback Garrett Safron, who threw for two touchdowns and 324 yards, set school single-game records for attempts and completions, and rushed for another 61 yards. The sophomore also connected with DeAndre Carter for a diving touchdown reception that was called back – the second time in as many weeks the Hornets were stung by an apparent officiating error.

Or let's just say, Carter certainly seemed to have secured the ball with both hands before he rolled onto the ground and lost his grip.

But this was the Causeway Classic. Crazy things always happen. Aggies linebacker Jordan Glass ran 97 yards after a failed point-after attempt and was rewarded with a mere two points. Teammate Jonathan Perkins sprinted 81 yards on a kickoff return. UCD special teams accounted for all 23 first-half points. The teams combined for 14 points in the final 12 seconds of the second period.

Before it was over, Safron drove Sac State 13 plays and 75 yards for 27-26 lead, and then of course, there was the hard-to-forget coulda, woulda, shoulda been a touchdown strike to Carter.

"No comment," a diplomatic Hornets coach Marshall Sperbeck said when asked about the play.

The Hornets had other chances and committed plenty of mistakes, including Morris Norrise's high, hanging pass that was intended for Safron in the end zone but intercepted instead by Phillip Thrappas.

Obviously, a bad decision. Obviously, not the right move. The outcome virtually eliminates the Hornets from playoff consideration, ending an emotionally exhausting season that included the traumatizing death last month of senior lineman John Bloomfield.

Two things can be said with certainty about both Sperbeck and Biggs: These are two class acts, men who share perspective and similar approaches – more teachers/mentors than screamers – as well as a rich, regional football history. Sperbeck is a one-time prep standout and longtime community college coach whose sister is married to former NFL quarterback and Aggie star Ken O'Brien.

Biggs, 61, has been around longer than Davis dirt. He has been the school's starting quarterback, assistant coach, offensive coordinator, and the head coach since 1993. Regarded as an offensive innovator dating to the days when UCD was a Division II powerhouse, he sent a handful of quarterbacks to the NFL, among them former Jesuit star J.T. O'Sullivan.

He has done pretty much everything around here except dig ditches. Then again, he isn't too bad with a shovel, either. Instead of playing it safe and securing a D-II legacy, Biggs was a powerful, vocal advocate for the new stadium and the university's move to Division I. And, yes, with his program completing its first season in the Big Sky Conference and coming off consecutive 4-7 seasons, he made the toughest call of all: when to start taking those guitar lessons and Spanish classes, and when to say goodbye and book that trip to Peru.

On Saturday, with about 30 seconds remaining, he stood on the sideline, awaiting the celebration and the inevitable. He swallowed hard. He crossed his arms. His eyes filled. Soon, he shook hands with Sperbeck and was engulfed by his players, then was handed the game ball by Wright.

"That was spectacular," Biggs would say later. "This year … it will always be special to me."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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