Homecoming for locals as UC Davis tackles SDSU in college football season opener

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The UC Davis football team lists two East County high school alumni on its roster: senior receiver Ryan Green from Grossmont High School and freshman defensive back Evan Perkins from Helix High School.

The UC Davis football team lists two East County high school alumni on its roster: senior receiver Ryan Green from Grossmont High School and freshman defensive back Evan Perkins from Helix High School.

Though neither played in Saturday's 38-17 non-conference loss to the San Diego State University Aztecs at San Diego Stadium, three of the Aggies' other San Diego County players did see action on the field: senior running back Justin Williams (Oceanside High School), junior defensive back Isiah Olave (Eastlake High School) and sophomore tight end Dan Plum (Cathedral Catholic High School).

Olave started on defense and was credited with six tackles in the game, including four unassisted stops.

Williams was active on special teams as a kick-off returner and also had five carries for negative two yards as a running back.

Plum saw a significant amount of playing time on special teams.

The game, the first ever meeting between the teams, served as a prelude to the 42nd annual KGB SkyShow. There was plenty of fireworks both on the field and in the sky to thrill the crowd of 46,132 fans.

UC Davis, which competes in the Big Sky Conference, is a member of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

SDSU improved to 6-0 in its Division I history against teams from the Big Sky Conference.

The Aztecs out-gained the Aggies 513 to 315 in total yards. SDSU held a 276 to 57 edge in rushing yards, though UC-Davis edged SDSU 258 to 237 in passing yards.

UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier completed 19 of 24 passing attempts for 258 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He surprised the Aztecs by completing a 41-yard pass to Keelan Doss on the first play of the game.

The Aztecs took charge of the contest immediately thereafter.

SDSU's lead ballooned to 38-3 by the end of the third quarter; UC Davis scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter after the Aztecs had inserted many of their third string players into the game.

The game against SDSU was the first of six 2016 postseason opponents on the schedule for the Aggies this season.

“When you play a team like this, your margin of error is very small,” UC Davis head coach Dan Hawkins explained. “I was really proud of our guys’ effort. I thought they battled and never quit. That was redeemable.

“We knew they were a good running team. I don’t think we were able to tip the scales enough to kind of get them out of there. They just pounded us. We did a great job and stayed very patient until they wore us down. We had a few opportunities, but didn’t capitalize.

“We have things we have to learn from. When you play a team of this caliber, your margin of error is just going to be small. Our attitude was great. The sparkle in the eye was great. Their togetherness was great. Their work ethic was great. All of that was awesome and we can build on that. We have the chance to be a good football team. We just have to hang together.”

The Aggies host the University of San Diego Toreros in their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 9. Kick-off is 6 p.m.

USD defeated Western New Mexico, 30-20, in its home opener on Sept. 2 as as former Grossmont High standout Anthony Lawrence passed for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

Lawrence, who returns to the Toreros for his third year at quarterback, completed a 58-yard scoring pass to Justin Priest in the first quarter and later connected with tight end Ross Dwelley on a two-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Lawrence completed 15 of 28 passing attempts in the non-conference matchup. He completed 246 of 364 passes for 2,998 yards and 25 touchdowns last season en route to earning First Team All-Pioneer Football League honors.

USD is picked to finish first in this year's PFL preseason coaches’ poll after finishing 16th in the nation last year (NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision). The Toreros return 12 starters off last year's 10-2 squad that won the PFL championship and captured the school's and league's first-ever postseason victory in the FCS playoffs.

Homegrown

Green, a 2013 Grossmont High graduate, red-shirted in 2013. He was on the UC Davis roster but did not see action in either 2014 or 2015.

The former Foothiller standout posted 87 tackles, including 57 unassisted stoips, as a senior strong safety. He finished his senior season with three interceptions and blocked three field goal attempts.

During his junior season, he earned first-team all-league honors and the team MVP award after recording 59 receptions for 856 yards. He also had a team-best 127 tackles, two interceptions, forced three fumbles and scored 12 touchdowns.

The recipient of the President Scholar Award a senior in high school, Green is majoring in environmental policy and analysis at UC Davis.

Perkins, a 2017 Helix High grad, was a four-year letter-winner in both football and track and field while a Highlander. He totaled six interceptions and 23 tackles as a senior, earning first-team all-league honors.

He set a school record with a 100-yard interception return.

Aztec attack

SDSU's Rashaad Penny earned honors as the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Aztecs with 197 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the blowout win over the Aggies.

The senior running back added an 18-yard kick return to finish the game with 215 all-purpose yards; he totaled a career-high 21 carries in the game.

Penny, who appears to be following in the footsteps of graduated star running back D.J. Pumphrey (now with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles), staked SDSU to a 10-0 lead when he broke off a 61-yard scoring run in the first quarter and added a nine-yard touchdown run late in the second to record what proved to be the game-winning score. Penny's second TD put the Aztecs up, 24-3, at halftime.

Junior quarterback Chris Chapman (Carlsbad) finished 16 of 21 for 220 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a 186.1 passing efficiency rating. His longest pass of the night went for 36 yards to.

Juwan Washington had 14 carries for 66 yards and one touchdown. Kahale Warring (five catches, 74 yards) made a seven-yard TD grab in the second quarter while Darryl Richardson caught one pass for a 21-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Back-up quarterback Ryan Agnew completed one of two passing attempts for 17 yards.

Defensively, Ron Smith and Tariq Thompson (St. Augustine) each had one interception for SDSU. Trey Lomax (Mira Mesa), Thompson, Noble Hall, Smith, Kameron Kelly and Garett Binkley (Ramona) led the Aztecs with four tackles apiece.

Aztec head coach Rocky Long was generally pleased with the outcome.

“I thought the defense played really good for three quarters until we put the third string in,”  Long stated. “But we’re so young. This is the youngest defense we’ve had since I’ve been here, by far.”

Penny and Washington combined for 263 rushing yards. Penny was supportive of the performance by the SDSU offensive line.

“I think they did awesome,” Penny said. “They’re blocking their tails off for us and they made big holes for us to run through. They’re going to get better each week; they’re young and they’ve never seen 46,000 (fans) before and I’m sure it’s going to be a hard task for them next week. But we always try to keep telling ourselves is: how are we going to fight through adversity? And that’s something that’s big on us and we’re going to continue rolling.”

“I was happy for the offensive line,” Long added. “We know those two guys can run with the ball. But they don’t get to run with the ball unless the big boys upfront do a pretty good job and I thought the offensive line got better as the game went along.”

“For the first game, I thought I did alright,” Chapman said. “There were a few throws, I wish I had back, but as a whole offense I think we did okay. We had some assignment errors, but I think that's not unusual for a first game. (It’s) never going to be perfect, but yeah, we looked good. (We’re)going in the right direction.”

SDSU will face a much stronger opponent in Arizona State University when the teams square off Saturday, Sept. 9, in Tempe. Kick-off is 8 p.m. Pacific Time. The Sun Devils are coming off a 37-31 win over visiting New Mexico State in their season opener.

The Aztecs host 14th-ranked Stanford Sept. 16 at San Diego Stadium. Kick-off is 7:30 p.m.

The Cardinal boasts a large continent of San Diego County players, including junior free safety Frank Buncom (St. Augustine), senior cornerback Alijah Holder (Oceanside), junior punter Jake Bailey (Santa Fe Christian), senior inside linebacker Jordan Perez (Carlsbad), junior cornerback Quenton Meeks (Del Norte), sophomore kicker Collin Riccitelli (Carslbad), freshman outside linebacker Caleb Phillips (Santa Fe Christian) and junior outside linebacker Casey Toohill (Cathedral Catholic).

Extra points

San Diego Stadium is celebrated its 50th anniversary season in 2017 after opening on Aug. 20, 1967.

The stadium is currently without a formal name after Qualcomm elected not to renew its contract for naming rights.

When the stadium opened in 1967, it was also known as San Diego Stadium.

The Chargers, then playing in the American Football League, and SDSU, then under head coach Don Coryell, were the stadium's inaugural football tenants. The Padres called the stadium home when they entered Major League Baseball as an expansion franchise in 1969.

The San Diego Sockers began outdoor play in the North American Soccer League in the stadium beginning in 1978 prior to launching their indoor soccer dynasty.

The stadium has since hosted three Super Bowls (1988, 1998 and 2003), two World Series (1984 and 1998),two college bowl games (Poinsettia Bowl and Holiday Bowl), MLB All-Star Game, Major League Soccer All-Star Game, numerous international soccer matches, high school football championship games, international rugby matches and large community gatherings (such as the Billy Graham Crusade in 2003).

The Mission Valley venue, which can seat 70,561 in its NFL football configuration, also has hosted Supercross championships and music concerts.

Iconic groups such as The Who, Metallica, U2 and One Direction have performed in front of thousands at the stadium.

The stadium was also used as an evacuation center during the 2003 and 2007 county wildfires.

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