For one half, UC Davis was able to do something no team in the country has done to No. 2 Eastern Washington: It kept its offense in check.
Coming into Saturday night’s matchup at Aggie Stadium, the Eagles boasted the second-best offense in the Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 50.3 points and 590.5 yards per game. In the first 30 minutes, the Aggies (1-3, 0-1) defense held the high-powered attack to nine points and 164 yards.
That didn’t last.
The Eagles showed why they were one of the most prolific offenses in college football, scoring 24 unanswered to start the second half en route to a 37-14 final score in front of a crowd of 6,954.
“There’s a reason why they’re the No. 2 team in the country,” Aggies coach Ron Gould said. “I’m very, very pleased with the energy and effort our kids played with for 60 minutes. We had some drives that we shot ourselves in the foot ... and that’s a little disconcerting..
The Eagles finished with 475 total yards, compared to the Aggies’ 260.
Eastern Washington (4-1, 1-0) quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was 23 of 28 for 303 yards and two touchdowns, furthering his campaign for the Walter Payton Award. He was also effective as part of the Eagles’ rushing attack, carrying the ball 10 times for 37 yards and one score.
Despite the offensive outburst to start the half, the Aggies came within shouting distance late in the third quarter. Quarterback London Lacy hit Keelan Doss on a seam route over the top for 70 yards that made it a two-possession game.
Davis’ defense then did its job, forcing Adams and his offense off the field in three plays. The Aggies took over at the opposing 48 following the punt.
But on the first play of the ensuing drive, running back Colton Silveria fumbled – the first turnover for the Aggies since their opener against Stanford.
“It’s tough when you have a turnover, but we can’t really dwell on it,” Lacy said. “We’ve got to learn from it, whatever it may be, and we have to bounce back and continue to move the ball as an offense.
Lacy finished 16 of 24 for 172 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Doss was the Aggies’ leading receiver with three catches for 77 yards and one score.
Silveria paced the Aggies’ ground game with 12 runs for 42 yards.
The Davis offense was in sync from the start, eating up clock and moving the ball with a balanced attack.
After Brady Stuart missed a 35-yard field goal attempt on the first drive of the game, running back Manusamoa Luuga scored from two yards out on the following series, capping off a 12-play, 75-yard effort that spanned nearly six minutes.
Inconsistency plagued the Aggies from then on. Gould’s offense tallied 97 yards in the second half with 70 of those yards coming on the big touchdown play.
The defense was just as inconsistent, allowing 66 percent of fourth down conversions and failing to bring down the Eagles at the point of attack.
“We just didn’t execute plays and missed a couple tackles that turned into big plays,” said Davis cornerback Nate Walker.
The Aggies will look for their first conference win on the road at Portland State next week.
Overall, Gould said he was happy with the way his team played. He is optimistic another week of practice will get them back on track.
“I am pleased with the team and the effort,” he said. “We’re going to get back to the drawing board, and we’re going to get to better.”