South Dakota’s Trevor Bouma rushed for a career high 186 yards and two touchdowns and UC Davis couldn’t overcome four turnovers in falling 27-17 in its home opener in front of an announced crowd of 5,112 Saturday night at Aggie Stadium.
It was a battle of two teams looking desperately for a win after experiencing plenty of futility last season.
UC Davis (0-2) and South Dakota (1-1) each won two games in 2014 and started this season with losses last week to Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Bouma, a junior, rushed for touchdowns of 10 and 63 yards, the latter a back-breaker that came 35 seconds after UCD had closed to 20-17 on Ben Scott’s 75-yard touchdown pass to Chris Martin with 6:47 to play in the third quarter.
“It was a blow,” UC Davis coach Ron Gould said. “It put us down by 10 again. ….I thought we would respond, and we would score again. Several times the defense did a heck of the job (getting) three and outs. Offensively we’ve got to play better.”
The Aggies, who trailed 20-3 at the half, had cut South Dakota’s lead to 10 points earlier in the third quarter when Manusamoa Luuga scored on a two-yard run, capping a gritty nine-play, 26-yard yard drive that was set up by Ryan Parenteau’s fumble recovery and 15-yard return.
Aggies sophomore Ben Scott had a rough night, despite completing 21 of 39 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. Harried throughout by South Dakota’s active defense, Scott threw three interceptions, fumbled once and was sacked four times.
“We gave up way too many plays on both sides of the ball,” Gould said. “We had way too many turnovers, but the buck stops with me. So I take the blame.”
But Scott said he has to do a better job of protecting the ball and leading his team.
“I missed a lot of reads, forced the ball,” Scott said. “The O-Line played fine for the most part…Those sacks were pretty much on me. I held the ball too long and the interceptions, I just forced them in there.”
The Aggies opened the game impressively.
They moved from their 20 to the South Dakota 22 before the drive stalled and Brady Stuart booted a 40-yard field goal.
It was all South Dakota the rest of the first half as it built a 17-point lead.
South Dakota scored touchdowns on drives of 78 and 47 yards and added 30- and 45-yard field goals by Miles Bergner.
South Dakota finished the first half with 249 total yards, with Bouma leading the way with 101 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries plus three catches for 48 yards.
Gould, who developed a number of NFL running backs while an assistant at Cal, admitted that the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Bouma looked better live than on film.
“It seemed like every time there was one guy on him, he broke the tackle,” Gould said. “He had a little wiggle to him, a lot more than we saw on film. So he made guys miss in the open field, and he had a lot more speed than we anticipated.”
In the first two quarters, a physical South Dakota defensive line stymied UCD’s offense that had shown an ability to move the ball consistently throughout its 31-17 loss at Nevada in the season opener the week before.
The Aggies punted four times and Scott was picked off twice by strong safety Jacob Warner. After getting three first downs on the first series, UCD managed only two more the remainder of the first half. They were held to 95 total yards.
“We definitely came out flat,” Scott said. “We came out low energy. They had a couple of big plays early on. It took the second half to kind of wake up a little bit.”
UCD will play at Hawaii on Saturday. The Rainbow Warriors (1-1) fell 38-0 to top-ranked Ohio State on Saturday.