UC Davis Aggies vs Cal Poly Mustangs: Game Notes

Oct 9, 2019, 11:13 AM | Updated: 11:13 am
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NSaturday marks the 45th meeting between UC Davis and Cal Poly, and the 16th since the matchup became known as the Battle For The Golden Horseshoe (more on the series below)… The game also serves as the annual Homecoming contest and takes place as part of the campus’s Parent and Family Day.

Who: Cal Poly

When: Saturday, October 12 • 4 p.m. PDT

Where: Davis, Calif.

Venue: UC Davis Health Center (10,743)

Live Stats: StatBroadcast (

Listen: Sports 1140 on TuneIn app (

Watch: Eleven Sports (

Saturday’s game is televised by Eleven Sports, which is available through several carriers (e.g. DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse) and streaming media (e.g. fuboTV and Twitch)… Aggie fans can also find it online at Pluto TV.


UC Davis battled back from a 21-7 deficit to take a 36-35 lead with 2:06 remaining in regulation… Senior TE and co-captain Wes Preece tied his career high of three TD receptions in those final minutes, then QB Jake Maier hit WR Khris Vaughn for a two-point conversion… However, UND kicker Brady Leach drilled a career-long 46-yard field goal with 57 ticks left to complete the upset for the Fighting Hawks… Maier threw for 357 yards and four TDs (the other to FB Christian Skeptaris), logging his fourth 300-yard game of the year and the 19th of his career… LB Eric Flowers posted a career-best 10 tackles and earned his first collegiate interception.


Senior TE Wes Preece has scored three touchdowns in a game three times: last Saturday at North Dakota (10/5/19), as a junior at Northern Colorado (10/5/2018), and as a sophomore at home vs. North Dakota (9/30/17)… The Phil Steele Preseason All-American now has 23 receiving TDs for his career, placing him fifth in school history between two Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Famers: Charley Enos (25, 1998-2001) and Randy Williams (22, 1982-85)… Former teammate Keelan Doss ranks third with 28… The previous high for an Aggie tight end was 18, by NFL draftee Howard Gravelle (1967-69).


Junior punter Daniel Whelan has thus far lived up to his inclusion on the inaugural FCS Punter of the Year watch list… He has averaged 48.31 gross yards per attempt, far and away the tops in the Big Sky Conference and second among all FCS punters… In fact, when the FCS and FBS fields are combined, Whelan ranks sixth:


1. Max Duffy, Kentucky (SEC), 51.2

2. Joseph Charlton, South Carolina (SEC), 49.8

3. Alex Pechin, Bucknell (Patriot), 49.5

t4. Oscar Bradburn, Virginia Tech (ACC), 48.4

t4. Braden Mann, Texas A&M (SEC), 48.4

6. DANIEL WHELAN, UC DAVIS (Big Sky), 48.3

7. Matt Turk, Arizona State (Pac-12), 48.2

8. Tyson Dyer, New Mexico (MWC), 48.1

9. Jake Hartbarger, Michigan State (Big Ten), 47.6

10. Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State (MWC), 47.6

The Ireland-born sustainable environmental design major also maintains a pace to crush the school season record for punting: the top two seasons in school history belong to future NFL punters Colton Schmidt (44.48 in 2012) and Colby Wadman (43.18 in 2016)… Whelan also has half of his kicks (13 of 26) go for 50 yards or more, compared to 18 out of 77 entering the year… His career average of 43.22 stands more than two yards per punt more than the record-holder Schmidt (41.12)… Of course, Whelan’s leg strength has been on display long before he ever suited up for UC Davis: a clip of a 72-yard field goal from his senior year at Rancho Mirage HS is still available on YouTube:


UC Davis converted four fourth-down conversion situations in Saturday’s game at UND, but none like the one midway through the third quarter: on a 4th-and-8 on their own 27-yard line, the Aggies snapped to Nick Fehrenbach, who ran the ball for 12 yards and the first down… That marked just the third time in a quarter century that UC Davis has faked a punt: Colby Wadman ran for a 24-yarder on a fake punt in 2013 (coincidentally, also against UND), while Ryan Christie had a 23-yard run on a fake punt against Saint Mary’s back in 1996… Fehrenbach, an English major from Rancho Santa Margarita also known for his creativity during the Aggie Idol talent show, became the first UC Davis defensive lineman to run a ball from scrimmage since Ray Willis, a 300-pound reserve DT, scampered for eight yards in the 1994 season finale at San Francisco State (the last football game ever played by the Gators)… 

Of course, the most famous incident of an Aggie lineman running a football came against Sonoma State on November 11, 1990: offensive guard Bill Mills scored on a 13-yard fumblerooskie to lift UC Davis to a 12-7 win over Sonoma State… The win clinched a 20th consecutive conference championship.


The multiple Preseason All-American marches toward the achievement of becoming just the second UC Davis quarterback to amass 10,000 passing yards… After the 357 at UND, Maier has 9,465, needing 535 to hit the milestone only previously reached by J.T. O’Sullivan (10,745 from 1998-2001)… Maier also needs just 21 passing attempts to surpass Randy Wright (2010-13) for that school career record… He broke Wright’s completions record in the 2019 home opener against Lehigh… For a full summary of Maier’s ascent up various UC Davis career lists, see page 19 of the official game notes.


UC Davis leads the all-time series with Cal Poly at 22-20-2, with an 8-7 mark in the Battle For The Golden Horseshoe era (2014-present)… UC Davis has won the last two contests, including a resounding 52-10 victory in San Luis Obispo last season… The Aggies trailed 10-0 after the opening quarter before exploding for 52 unanswered to take the win… Jake Maier threw for five TD passes, including pair to Wes Preece… RBs Tehran Thomas (101 rush, 5 rec) and Ulonzo Gilliam,  Jr. (95 rush, 10 rec) each broke 100 yards from scrimmage… Head coach Dan Hawkins has effectively won six straight matchups against the Mustangs: 2018 and 2017 (31-28) as a head coach, 1985 (34-21), 1984 (10-6) and 1983 (24-14) as an assistant coach; and 1982 (24-0) as a player.

The decision to bestow a trophy on the UC Davis-Cal Poly rivalry definitely came from an informed place: the matchup has arguably been more hotly contested than the otherwise more touted Causeway Classic with Sac State… Not only is the all-time series close (22-20-2), but so are the total points (UC Davis 1095, Cal Poly 1091)… In contrast, the Aggies hold a much wider margin in the all-time series with Sacramento State (46-20)… Furthermore, 23 of the 44 previous Aggies-Mustangs meetings were decided by 10 points or fewer, with 11 by a field goal or less… In comparison, only eight of the 66 Causeway meetings have sported a 3-point margin or smaller… Two of UC Davis’ five ties from 1973 to the advent of overtime came against Cal Poly (21-21 in 1988, 31-31 in 1992)… The Mustangs are also the last non-FBS/I-A team to shut out the Aggies (19-0 in 1990)… Three of the highest scoring games in program history come from this series (55-38 Cal Poly win in 2015, 63-28 UC Davis win in 2000, 63-28 Cal Poly win in 2007)… See page 50 of the official game notes for a complete series summary.

Among the most memorable series contest for Aggie fans was on Halloween night, 2004… Tony Kays hauled in a 13-yarder from Jon Grant with 0:13 to lift UC Davis to a 36-33 upset of then-No. 5 Cal Poly, handing the Mustangs their first loss of the year… On the flip side, the 1994 battle stands out for Cal Poly fans: an Antonio Warren TD and a Mike Fisher 2-point conversion in the final seconds flipped what had been a 24-0 Aggie advantage at halftime into a 32-31 Mustang win.

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