College Sports

Both teams come in at 2-6, but only UC Davis plays like it

Portland State didn’t look like a two-win team, but UC Davis did in their Big Sky Conference meeting Saturday at Aggie Stadium.

Behind junior quarterback Alex Kuresa’s big-play throws, Paris Penn’s three touchdowns and Jonathan Gonzales’ three field goals, the Vikings hammered the Aggies 51-29 in front of announced crowd of 5,665.

Portland State (3-6, 2-4) looked more like the Vikings of 2015 that went 9-3, finished second in the conference and made the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

The Aggies (2-7, 1-5) were coming off a bye week and the rust showed, even though coach Ron Gould said the team had two good weeks of practice.

“They executed better than we did,” Gould said. “They outplayed us on both sides of the ball. We made way too many mistakes.”

Kuresa found open receivers all over the field in completing 16 of 20 passes for 384 yards and a touchdown. Among the 2015 Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year’s completions were plays of 56, 56, 48, 41, 37 and 34 yards. With backup Josh Kraght also completing a 41-yard pass, the Vikings had 425 passing yards.

Portland State’s passing onslaught was a surprise.

The Vikings came into the game as the Big Sky Conference’s second-ranked rushing offense (233.3 yard per game) and the 12th best in the FCS. But they were ranked No. 10 in pass offense (191.9). Portland State had 177 rushing yards.

It was a disappointing performance for a UCD pass defense that had shown steady improvement in the previous three games, having allowed 183 yards against Southern Utah, 166 against Northern Colorado and just 44 two weeks ago against Cal Poly.

Ben Scott threw two touchdown passes but was just 8 of 22 for 118 yards and had an interception for the Aggies. He was replaced by C.J. Spencer midway through the fourth quarter. Spencer looked good in his short stint. He threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to true freshman Jared Harrell and also rushed for a 1-yard score in his first action since injuring his knee in his only play (a 2-yard gain) in the season opener against Southern Oregon.

“I’m definitely feeling healthy,” said Spencer, who completed 8 of 19 passes for 100 yards. “The trainers and physical therapists have done a great job of helping me get back. I’ve got to give credit to them.”

Spencer played for the injured Scott in the final three games last year and starred in the Aggies’ 35-21 win over Sacramento State by accounting for four touchdowns.

Gould wasn’t ready to make the former Inderkum High School standout the starter, however.

“We’ve got to look at the film,” Gould said. “Right now I’m not making that decision. C.J. came in and performed at a high level. He was making some throws. But I’ve got to look at the totality of the plays he was in and see how Ben played as well.”

Keelan Doss had four catches for 91 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter. The wide receiver set up that score with a brilliant 48-yard catch and run.

UCD plays next Saturday at Montana State.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP

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