QBs lead charge for UC Davis, Sac State
One is ready to shatter more career passing marks at UC Davis on Senior Day, though Jake Maier is mostly known for his humility and team-first mantra.
Statistics are secondary to grander goals here.
The same can be said of Kevin Thomson, Sacramento State’s third-year starting passer, he of equal program impact. He is eager to get back into action after missing the last game and a half with a neck strain, courtesy of a crushing sack against No. 3 Weber State on Nov. 2.
Maier leads the Aggies (5-5) today at home against No. 10 Montana State (7-3) in Big Sky Conference play at 4 p.m. (On Pluto.TV). The goal for the 18 departing Aggies seniors, headed by Maier, is to finish a season of promise on a high note with this game and the Causeway Classic at No. 6 Sac State on Nov. 23.
In order to secure one of the 24 playoff berths for FCS teams, UCD would need to win out and root for other upsets across the land. In college football, nothing seems impossible. UCD made the playoffs last season as a tri-champion of the Big Sky and started this season preseason No. 4. Sac State was 2-8 a year ago and likely just needs a split from here to secure its first playoff since 1988, if it hasn’t already done so.
Thomson may be a game-time decision in Moscow inside the Kibbie Down as the Hornets (7-3) take on Idaho (4-6), also today at 1 p.m. (On CW31 TV) with the aim of inching closer to the program’s first conference championship since 1995.
Sac State knows it has depth at quarterback after reserve Jake Dunniway dazzled in leading a remarkable comeback at Northern Arizona last week, tossing two touchdown passes in the final 98 seconds to key a 38-34 victory. In his first Hornets career start, Dunniway completed 27 of 44 passes for 383 yards and four touchdowns, the most passing yards for a Sac State player in five years.
Thomson did not make the road trip to Flagstaff last week, but he looked more like his old self this week in practice. Dunniway also took a lot of reps.
Dunniway was a star at St. Mary’s High School under onetime UCD assistant coach Tony Franks. Dunniway was a redshirt at UCD in 2017, played at Mesa College in San Diego last season and then transferred to Sac State.
“We know we have nice depth,” Sac State coach Troy Taylor said. “Kevin looks good. He’s not completely in the clear. He still has to go through protocol, but he’s close and he’s eager. He felt like he could have played last week.”
Maier is ready. He was sharp in a 45-28 victory at Portland State last week, passing for 383 yards and four touchdowns. It was his sixth 300-yard passing game this season and 21st of his career. He hit Lance Babb for three scoring strikes.
Maier is 89 yards shy of tying J.T. O’Sullivan for the most career passing yards as an Aggie. Now coaching high school ball in San Diego, O’Sullivan passed for 10,745 yards from 1998-2001 after a stellar career at Jesuit. O’Sullivan and Maier are the only Aggies to pass for 3,000 or more yards in three successive seasons. Maier stands as the program’s next great passer, a legacy that started under famed coach Jim Sochor.
“He’s special, just special,” UCD coach Dan Hawkins said of Maier.
Ulonzo Gilliam isn’t too bad, either. The sophomore runner went for 242 yards at Portland State, giving him 1,055 for the year and 2,031 for his career. He earned Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors. Gilliam’s effort came 25 years after Mike Ichiyama’s amazing back-to-back 300yard rushing efforts for UCD, one of just three backs in NCAA history — at any level — to do so.
Montana State seeks its 21st conference championship. the Bobcats lead the Big Sky in rushing with 257.7 yards and rank third in rushing defense in allowing 123.7 a game. UCD’s Nick Eaton of Whitney High is coming off another monstrous defensive effort, recording eight tackles, two sacks and forcing two fumbles against Portland State. He earned his second conference Player of the Week honor after doing so with a game-turning score against Cal Poly.
Sac State has also defended well behind defensive linemen Dariyn Choates and program career sack leader George Obinna. The Hornets have 37 sacks this season, second in the country at the FCS level and first in the Big Sky. Sac State had 13 sacks in 2017.