Before most fans were even settled in their seats, Idaho State was in a 21-point hole and was without senior defensive lineman JonRhyeem Peoples, who was ejected six plays into the game for targeting.
By halftime, a comeback seemed unlikely as Idaho State (4-5, 2-5 BSC) was forced to make up a 28-10 deficit with backup quarterback Gunner Amos when Tanner Gueller’s first half beating, which featured two sacks, multiple hurries and two lost helmets, missed the second half with an undisclosed injury.
With two minutes left in the game, a Josh Januska pick-six topped off what was a day to forget for the Idaho State football team, who was rolled on senior day for a 56-17 loss Saturday afternoon.
“We had 85 plays, it felt like we had 12,” said head coach Rob Phenicie. “We had 410 yards of offense and it felt like we had 15. It was just one of those games where it was just a grind. We have to go back and fix it.”
UC Davis (5-4, 3-3 BSC) put together four consecutive clinical touchdown drives before finally being forced to punt late in the second quarter.
UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier completed 29 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
All-Conference wide receiver Keelan Doss had a quiet 112 receiving yards on 11 catches and was held out of the end zone, but uncharacteristically dropped a touchdown in the first half.
“It’s always difficult when you are playing one of the top players in your division,” Phenicie said on Doss. “That’s what he does. He’s a good ball player.”
After going three-and-out on its first drive of the game, Idaho State began to find a rhythm on its second drive. The Bengals picked up two third downs and a fourth down conversion to keep the drive alive as Idaho State marched into Aggie territory for the first time of the afternoon.
But then UC Davis brought backside pressure to Gueller’s blindside, which wasn’t picked up, giving Anthony Baumgart a clear shot on the Bengals quarterback.
Baumgart’s punishing blow forced a fumble that went 15-plus yards in the wrong direction, which was recovered by the wrong team at the ISU 43-yardline. Two plays later, UC Davis had its 21-0 first quarter lead.
“That’s never fun,” Phenicie said on being down 21-0. “You don’t panic. You stay the course and you can’t get two without getting one. When you get down like that, you don’t go into full blown panic mode.”
The Bengals responded with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was capped off with a Ty Flanagan four-yard touchdown run. Matt Peterson, who was kicking in place of the injured Zak Johnson and the unavailable Parker Johnson, later made a 25-yard field goal to cut the ISU deficit to 18.
But ISU was unable to capitalize on the only brief lull the UC Davis offense had all afternoon.
As the crowd of 5,762 slowly filtered its way out of Holt Arena, the Aggies reignited its offensive firepower and began to pour it on, scoring 28 unanswered points in front of a virtually empty Holt Arena.
The determined UC Davis offense, who saw a similar lead dissipate in last week’s tight win over Cal Poly, drove to the red zone on four of its last five drives, scoring touchdowns three times.
“What we tell the kids is you can control attitude and effort,” Phenicie said. “We control everything else. What we’ll look for is the effort during the game.”
Idaho State’s lone second half touchdown came off a blocked punt and the Bengals scored their final touchdown of the game two plays later as Amos engineered his first touchdown drive in a Bengal uniform, which only needed to go four yards.
“He’s not as advanced as Tanner,” Phenicie said on Amos. “We go back to some base things. Things he does well. His package is a little bit smaller at this point.”