Dan Hawkins said this week UC Davis would pull no stops in its FCS quarterfinal game Saturday, on the road with nothing to lose.
The Aggies coach called for a 2-point conversion, which was a success, but UCD held the lead for just an instant as No. 3-seeded Eastern Washington won 34-29 when Sam McPherson sprinted 35 yards for a touchdown with 26 seconds remaining in a meeting of Big Sky Conference programs in Cheney, Wash.
A last-gasp drive for UCD resulted in a fumble after a sack, ending the program’s 100th season in football at 10-3.
UCD quarterback Jake Maier found Ulonzo Gilliam for a 3-yard touchdown with 1:13 left, and he flipped the ball to Namane Modise on a misdirection route for the go-ahead conversion and a 29-28 lead.
Maier passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns, Gilliam rushed for 132 yards and two scores, and Keelan Doss had nine receptions for 143 yards in his final game for UCD.
UCD lost twice to Eastern Washington, which is now 9-0 all time against the Aggies. Eastern Washington is 11-2 and will host a semifinal game on its famed red turf at Roos Field next Saturday, Dec. 15.
McPherson rushed for 143 yards, and Eric Barriere passed for 235 yards and three touchdowns and had a 32-yard run to help set up the winning score.
Barriere’s 5-yard touchdown run tied it 21-21 in the fourth quarter, and he hit Nsimba Webster for a 7-yard touchdown for a 28-21 lead with 7:12 to play.
UCD shared the Big Sky Conference championship with Eastern Washington and Weber State, a program first. Hawkins and Eastern Washington coach Aaron Best were Big Sky Conference Coaches of the Year. Both are coaching at their alma mater.
Best sought out Maier and Doss after the game to share his appreciation. Maier and Doss each wished Eastern Washington luck the rest of the way.
The Eagles last won the FCS championship in 2010 and have made the FCS playoffs 13 times. UCD was in the FCS playoffs for the first time. The Aggies had four turnovers Saturday and committed five in a 59-20 loss at Eastern Washington last month.