UC Davis Wins First Big Sky Championship with 56-13 Causeway Classic Win

RENO, Nev. — Junior quarterback and communication major Jake Maier completed 37 of 46 passes for 478 yards while senior organizational studies major Keelan Doss hauled in a career-high 16 receptions and 205 yards, leading UC Davis to a Division I-era record 691 offensive yards and a 56-13 Big Sky Conference win over Sacramento State in the 65th Annual Causeway Classic Presented by Pepsi at Mackay Stadium Saturday afternoon, the first neutral-site rivalry game since 2002.

With that result, UC Davis won its first Big Sky Championship, and first conference title since 2009. Saturday’s win also marked the Aggies’ seventh win in the last nine meetings, and 21st in the last 27. Football’s 56 points is the second-highest total in any of the 65 Causeway Classics, three points shy of the 58 scored in 2004, and the most scored in any Big Sky game.

The Aggies improve to 9-2 overall and 7-1 in conference. The Hornets slip to 2-8 for the year and finish the season with an 0-7 Big Sky mark. The game moved to the University of Nevada, Reno due to poor air quality in the Sacramento valley.

Sophomore human development major Jared Harrell enjoyed his first 100-yard receiving game, collecting four passes for 120 yards. Redshirt freshman Ulonzo Gilliam rushed for a career-best 138 yards on 16 carries, six more yards than his previous best, set against San Jose State in the 2018 season opener.

Maier’s 478-yard performance represents the school’s No. 3 all-time single-game performance, behind only Kevin Daft’s 482 and 495 in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Saturday’s output marks the third career 200-yard game for Doss, who previously had contests of 208 against Eastern Washington in 2017 and 207 in the 2016 Causeway Classic.

Doss is now responsible for three of the four 200-plus receiving-yards totals in the program’s Big Sky era. With his performance against the Hornets, he crossed the 1,000-yard single-season milestone and will enter his inaugural playoff game with 100 receptions on the season. By scoring twice — the first visit to the end zone took place with 15 seconds left in the first half, the second took place in the final minutes of the third quarter and pushed the Aggies’ lead to 42-13, at that time — he recorded multiple TDs for the fifth time in his career.

In addition to doubling his career rushing TD total by scoring UC Davis’ first two touchdowns of the afternoon on a one-yard run in the first quarter and a nine-yard sprint in the second, Maier completed 37 of 46 passes and threw four touchdowns.

The first of those four took place 1:25 after kickoff when he connected with Harrell for a 77-yard strike, a career-long reception for the second-year Aggie, to give his team an early lead.

Knocked on their heels early, Sacramento State cut into the Aggies’ 14-point lead, with 2:22 left in the first quarter, when it connected on a 34-yard field goal, but UC Davis responded with two touchdowns on the ground from Maier (his second of the day) and senior animal science major Ethan Hicks, which increased their team’s lead to 25.

While the Aggies were lighting up the scoreboard when they had the ball, their defense did a phenomenal job stopping the Hornets’ offense. Sacramento State was held to 162 yards of total offense in the first half, compared to the Aggies’ 452 before the break.

And once action resumed after halftime, Sacramento State’s struggles continued. Yes, they scored the first points of the second half on a 21-yard field goal, but the Aggies scored the next 21 straight to earn bragging rights, and bring the Causeway trophy back home for the next year.

Defensively, linebacker and American studies major Mason Moe led the Aggies with nine tackles. Overall, UC Davis held the Hornets to just 297 yards of total offense. Led by senior psychology major Isiah Olave with two, this unit broke up seven Hornet passes.

UC Davis’ 56 points were the most scored by a Sacramento State opponent this year; the Hornets’ 13 points is a season-low total.

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