DAVIS, Calif. – In a game featuring two of the nation’s top scoring offenses, No. 14 UC Davis and Idaho State did not disappoint on Saturday night, as Ulonzo Gilliam’s four-yard touchdown scamper in overtime provided the winning margin, lifting the Aggies to a, 44-37, Homecoming victory over Idaho State in front of the third sellout crowd in Aggie Stadium history.
Junior communication major Jake Maier, who ended the night 40-of-51 for 382 yards, finished with a career-high five touchdown passes to five different receivers, while senior sociology major Keelan Doss caught 13 balls for 131 yards and his school-record 15th career 100-yard receiving performance to help UC Davis improve to 5-1 overall and stand as the lone undefeated Big Sky Conference team in first place at 3-0.
The Bengals, who were receiving votes in the latest national polls, fell to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in league play, as Mitch Gueller caught eight balls for 175 yards and James Madison finished with 147 yards on the ground on 33 carries.
Trailing by 15 points after Idaho State scored just 1:25 into the fourth quarter for a, 37-22, advantage, the Aggies roared back, using a 12-play drive that ended with a seven-yard touchdown shovel pass to Gilliam to make it an eight-point contest.
The two teams then traded three-and-outs as UC Davis began the game-tying drive at its own 23 with 3:37 remaining. Six straight completions by Maier marched the Aggies down the field — the longest of which a 20-yard strike to Doss to move inside the red zone — before Maier found Doss two plays later in the right corner of the end zone to make it a two-point contest.
Needing the conversion to tie the game, Maier dropped back and spotted Jared Harrell in the back of the end zone. The sophomore human development major stretched to make the catch and was able to get two feet down in bounds, tying the game at 37-all.
However, with 1:09 remaining on the clock, Idaho State got the ball back with enough time for one more drive, marching down to the UC Davis 10-yard line thanks, in large part, to completions of 12, 28, and 17 yards. Lining up for the winning field goal with five seconds remaining, Campbell Sheidow pushed a 27-yarder wide right as time expired, sending the Aggies to overtime for only the second time in the Division I era and the first since October 10, 2009, against South Dakota (a 24-23 victory).
UC Davis won the toss and elected to go first in overtime, working the ball down to the four-yard line before Gilliam stretched around the left side and in for the go-ahead score.
Idaho State took over and was faced with a do-or-die fourth and three from the 18 as Tanner Gueller tried to hit his brother, Mitch, but Vincent White was there to break up the pass, ending the game and sending a jubilant Aggies squad streaming off the sidelines.
Sophomore sociology major Tehran Thomas scored from four yards out on a pass from Maier to open the game before the Bengals exploded for 23 unanswered points — capped by a 58-yard run by Ty Flanagan — to build a 23-7 lead.
Harrell’s 12-yard touchdown grab with 64 seconds remaining in the half made it a nine-point game at the break before the defenses stiffened on both sides. A 45-yard touchdown catch-and-run by freshman Justin Kraft answered a Bengal score to make it an eight-point contest, setting up the thrilling finish.
Gilliam finished with 20 carries for 99 yards on the ground, while Harrell added nine catches for 97 yards on the night.
UC Davis heads down the California coast for the first of back-to-back road contests next weekend, taking on rival Cal Poly on Saturday (Oct. 20) at 4:05 p.m. in San Luis Obispo, Calif.