UC Davis may have found a quarterback and a rejuvenated running back during its Big Sky Conference homecoming game against No. 11 Montana State on Saturday.
But the Aggies also learned that they couldn’t keep pace with the Bobcats’ big-play offense and their gifted sophomore quarterback, Dakota Prukop, in falling 77-37 in a game that featured a slew of highlight-reel plays to keep the crowd of 7,152 entertained.
The two teams combined for 1,346 total yards, 63 first downs, 16 touchdowns and a handful of school records.
Prukop, a sophomore quarterback whose father, Tim, played linebacker and defensive back at UCD in the 1980s, passed for 361 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown.
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His performance came on the heels of his eight-touchdown – five passing; three rushing – show in a 59-56 come-from-behind win last week over Sacramento State. That earned the Austin, Texas, native Football Championship Subdivision and Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors.
In all, Montana State (5-2, 3-0) gained 739 yards, eclipsing the school record of 695. The 77 points was the most scored against a Division I school.
It also led to a couple of dubious records for UCD (1-5, 0-3).
The 77 points allowed was 12 more than the previous record of 65 surrendered to Sacramento City College in 1928.
The 114 points was the most combined, surpassing Bloomsburg, Pa.’s 58-48 win over the Aggies in the NCAA Division II semifinals in 2000, UCD’s only loss in a 12-1 season.
“It’s tough when you’re playing a team like Montana State,” said UCD coach Ron Gould. “Their team is pretty phenomenal. Overall we’re just disappointed we didn’t play well.”
Getting in on the offensive fireworks was UCD sophomore quarterback Ben Scott, who made his starting debut in place of senior London Lacy. He passed for 379 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, and rushed for 72 yards as the Aggies had 609 total yards, 319 more than their average through the previous five games.
“Ben’s command of the offense was spectacular,” Gould said. “He definitely gave us a lift tonight. He played like a seasoned vet.”
The game also marked the return to form of senior running back Gabe Manzanares, last year’s Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year. Manzanares rushed for 142 yards on 19 carries and scored a touchdown.
Manzanares had 54 rushing yards in his three previous games since returning from a foot injury that had hobbled him since the spring. He almost matched that on one run, a career-best 53-yard scoring burst up the middle to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 35-17 with 10:25 to play in the third quarter.
Among other Aggies highlights:
▪ On a flea-flicker that started with a handoff to running back Colton Silveria, Scott hit freshman Jermale Jefferson in a full sprint down the right sideline for a 44-yard touchdown with 6:42 to play in the third quarter.
▪ Ramon Vargas scored on a 13-yard pass from Scott by reaching up and making a one-handed grab early in the fourth quarter. The junior had a career high eight catches for 141 yards.
▪ Showing he can run, too, Scott had a 31-yard run in the second quarter that was the longest by a UCD quarterback since at least 2000. His 29-yard run on the Aggies’ second possession led to a 12-yard touchdown pass to Corey Galindo to tie the score 7-7 with 2:58 to play in the first quarter.
“I just wanted to go out there and command the troops, and put points on the board,” Scott said. “I felt really comfortable out there. The offensive line did a good job. I didn’t get sacked all the day. … There were a lot of great plays by receivers going up and making plays.”
Big Sky Conference teams have made a lot of plays this season.
Montana State had scored 50 or more points in three previous games, including a 52-51 loss to Eastern Washington in a nonconference game.
Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb says that it’s not so much bad defensive play as it is tremendous and fast-paced offensive play.
“The biggest challenge defenses are facing now is their own offense,” Lamb said. “The defense plays two games worth of snaps. So what we usually think of as a poor defensive performance in terms of points allowed isn’t really valid anymore.”
Except sometimes on the scoreboard.