DAVIS, Calif. – Senior quarterback Jake Maier passed for 378 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 21 UC Davis to a 48-24 victory over Cal Poly in the annual Battle for the Golden Horseshoe on Saturday before a record crown of 11,194 inside UC Davis Health Stadium.
The Aggies scored 24 points in the first quarter and the first 10 points of the second period for a 34-0 lead and never looked back, improving to 3-4 for the season and 1-2 in Big Sky Conference play.
Cal Poly, which has lost three straight games in the rivalry, fell to 2-4 and 1-2.
Trailing 34-0 midway through the second quarter, Cal Poly rallied with three touchdowns and a field goal to cut UC Davis' lead to 10 points, 34-24, early in the fourth quarter.
Colton Theaker's 52-yard field goal 24 seconds before halftime made it 34-10. It was Theaker's longest as a Mustang, the third-longest in Cal Poly's 26-year Division I history and fourth-longest in the program's 101-year history. The drive featured a 43-yard connection from Hamler to Koski.
On Cal Poly's third possession of the third quarter, Hamler hit Koski in stride for a 51-yard touchdown pass after runs of 25 and 15 yards by Lepi Lataimua.
The comeback continued as Hamler hit Quentin Harrison in stride over the middle for a 69-yard touchdown, capping a 95-yard Mustang drive. Cal Poly trailed UC Davis 34-24 just 51 seconds into the fourth quarter.
The rally ended, however, as UC Davis linebacker Nick Eaton intercepted a pitch from Hamler in the Mustang backfield and scampered 78 yards into the end zone for a touchdown and a 41-24 Aggie lead with 11:23 to play.
UC Davis added another score on a 19-yard pass from Maier to Khris Vaughn with 4:23 to go.
Hamler established career highs of 13 completions in 20 attempts for 243 yards, throwing touchdown passes to Koski and Harrison. Hamler also rushed for 49 yards on 16 carries.
Koski's eight receptions for 163 yards are career highs as well.
Lataimua, who sat out last week's Montana State game with an injury, rushed for 97 yards on eight carries Saturday, both career highs.
Senior defensive back Kameron Dennis and junior linebacker Matt Shotwell led Cal Poly defensively with seven tackles each, all solo. Dennis equalled his career high. Carter Nichols and Nik Navarro each added six tackles for the Mustangs, who did not force a turnover.
UC Davis intercepted Hamler twice and recovered a fumble – the pitchout returned for a touchdown by Eaton.
The Aggies' first 34 points were courtesy of 31- and 29-yard field goals by Max O'Rourke, touchdown passes from Maier of 14 yards to Jared Harrell, 55 to Vaughn and 37 to Ulonzo Gilliam and a five-yard run by Gilliam.
Gilliam finished with 152 yards on 22 carries – the Aggies were averaging just 95 yards per game on the ground – while Maier completed 23 of 36 passes for 378 yards and four touchdowns. Vaughn caught eight passes for 148 yards and two scores.
UC Davis compiled a 588-463 advantage in total offense – 194 rushing yards and 394 through the air. Cal Poly netted 220 yards on the ground and 243 passing. Despite the loss, Cal Poly produced a seven-minute, 20-second advantage in time of possession -- 33:40 to 26:20.
Cal Poly will play its next two games at home, hosting North Dakota for its Blackout Game next Saturday and Sacramento State on Mustang Family Weekend in two weeks. Both Big Sky games kick off at 5:05 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Photos courtesy of Karen Froyland | Davis Enterprise