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#4 UC Davis Falls To #18 Montana in Big Sky Opener

DAVIS, Calif. — Junior sociology major Khris Vaughn scored two touchdowns, but No. 4 UC Davis fell to No. 18 Montana, 45-20, in its home Big Sky opener Saturday afternoon.

The loss brought the Aggies record to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play.

“Montana is well coached … and made some plays. I told these guys, ‘that is sports, you cannot deny that and that you respect that.’ Round one went to Hawk, round two went to (Montana head coach Bobby) Hauck. Now it is time for a rubber match,” said UC Davis head coach Dan Hawkins.

Senior communication major Jake Maier led UC Davis’ passing attack with 275 yards through the air, tossing three touchdowns and one interception.

Sophomore biochemistry and molecular biology major Ulonzo Gilliam, Jr. paced the Aggies rushing attack by accumulating 38 yards over the course of the game. Gilliam, Jr. also tacked on 30 receiving yards. Junior sociology major Tehran Thomas also added 37 yards on the ground, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

Vaughn pulled in four catches for 57 yards and two scores. Freshman Lance Babb II made his presence felt in the passing game, recording five receptions for 53 yards.

Sophomore human development major Devon King led the UC Davis defensive effort, totaling five tackles, one forced fumble, and one recovered fumble. Junior community and regional development major Erron Duncan added eight tackles and 1.0 TFL and junior managerial economics major Isaiah Thomas had four tackles and 1.0 TFL in the loss.

UC Davis responded to Montana’s 14-0 opening lead with a score to make it a 14-7 deficit. Carson Crawford snagged a three-yard touchdown reception from Maier with 5:13 remaining in the second quarter to finish a 14-play, 56-yard drive. Senior communication major Max O’Rourke tacked on the extra point.

After Montana scored to expand its lead to 38-7, UC Davis got on the scoreboard again to narrow the gap and make it a 38-14 deficit. The Aggies finished a 14-play, 80-yard drive when Vaughn grabbed a five-yard touchdown reception from Maier with 4:04 left in the third quarter. O’Rourke made the extra point attempt.

UC Davis scored again to narrow Montana’s lead to 38-20. Maier hit Vaughn on a 17-yard touchdown reception with 12:17 left in the fourth quarter to close an 11-play, 92-yard drive. The two-point conversion attempt was no good. UC Davis didn’t score again in the game and Montana tacked on seven more points to finish off the scoring.

“It is good for everyone to understand what it means to wear a target on your back. Every team, and every staff that plays you is going to conduct research, study film, figure out how to stop you and gear up for you. This is a good learning opportunity,” said Hawkins.

The Aggies forced one turnover in Saturday’s contest, with UC Davis turning that takeaway into seven points. The UC Davis offense did a good job extending drives, converting on 52.6 percent of third-down attempts going 10-for-19 on the day. The Aggies also went 2-for-2 on fourth down.

UC Davis’ offense took advantage of its trips to the red zone, scoring 20 points on three red zone appearances.

Next up for the Aggies is a road matchup at North Dakota next Saturday (Oct. 5). Kickoff in Grand Forks, N.D., is set for 11 a.m. PT/1 p.m. CT.