Big Sky Roundup

BIG SKY ROUNDUP: Davis last unbeaten, Weber State smothers Eastern Washington


Entering the third weekend of October, the Aggies moved to the front of the pack in the Big Sky Conference all by themselves.
Weber State’s ridiculously consistent defense smothered No. 3 Eastern Washington to post a 14-6 win that knocked the Eagles from the ranks of the conference’s undefeated. And Davis emerged from the first overtime game in Aggies Stadium history with a 44-37 win over Idaho State to hand the Bengals their first Big Sky defeat.
No. 22 Montana will almost certainly drop out of the Top 25 in this week’s STATS FCS poll following a second straight loss, a 41-14 loss at North Dakota.
Montana State could push for a Top 25 spot after moving to 4-2 overall with a narrow 24-23 win over Idaho on homecoming in Bozeman.
Southern Utah broke through for its first win over a suddenly-reeling Sacramento State team. Portland State carried the momentum from its upset win on a last-secodn field goal at Montana last week to post a second straight victory, keeping Northern Colorado winless in the process.
Cal Poly and Northern Arizona had byes this week.

UC Davis celebrates its 44-37 overtime victory over Idaho State on Saturday night/ UC Davis athletics


$Montana at North Dakota — L

*Idaho at Montana State (ROOT)

*Eastern Washington at Weber State — L

*Sacramento State at Southern Utah

*Idaho State at UC Davis

*Northern Colorado at Portland State


WEEK: 4-2

OVERALL: 46-13



No. 13 Weber State 14, No. 3 Eastern Washington 6 (click for box score)

Redshirt freshman Josh Davis took Eastern Washington’s first punt of the day 75 yards for a touchdown, Jake Constantine hit Rashid Shaheed for a 38-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter and Weber State suffocated Eastern’s normally explosive offense to a crucial victory. Weber State moved 2-1 in league play, 4-2 overall, rebounding from last week’s 28-24 loss at Northern Arizona in the process. The win over Eastern marks the highest-ranked opponent Weber State has defeated since beating No. 3 Cal Poly in the 2008 FCS playoffs.


Eastern Washington entered the game ranked among the FCS leaders in points per game (45.6 ppg), total offense (570.6 yards per game) and rushing yards per game (287.4). Weber State allowed just 18 first downs to an EWU attack still without senior All-American quarterback Gage Gubrud. The Eagles rushed for just 62 yards on 36 carries, averaging 1.7 yards per rush. Eastern finished with 247 yards of total offense a week after totaling 648 yards in sophomore quarterback Eric Barriere’s first career start.

Keilan Benjamin, Noah Vaea, Adam Rodriguez and Kawika Tupuola all recorded sacks for the Wildcats. WSU also snared a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter to boost its Big Sky-leading total to 20 takeaways. With Eastern Washington driving into Wildcat territory, Jawain Harrison picked off a pass in the end zone that stopped the Eagle drive. Landon Stice had an interception with 1:50 to play that sealed the win for the Wildcats. Harrison finished with nine tackles to lead the Wildcat defense and Benjamin added eight. 

On offense, Constantine was 15 of 25 passing for 159 yards and one touchdown. Devon Cooley had five receptions for 46 yards, while Shaheed had three catches for 53 yards. Treshawn Garrett had 19 carries for 68 yards and moved into 10th in Weber State history in career rushing yards. Davis had 12 carries for 52 yards. 

WSU hosts Montana State on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Stewart Stadium.  The defending Big Sky champion Wildcats have now won 17 of their last 21 league contests. 

No. 14 UC Davis 44, Idaho State 37, OT

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. Ulonzo Gilliam’s four-yard touchdown scamper in overtime provided the winning margin, lifting the Aggies to a Homecoming victory in front of the third sellout crowd in Aggie Stadium history.

Junior quarterback Jake Maier, who ended the night 40-of-51 for 382 yards, finished with a career-high five touchdown passes to five different receivers. Senior wide
receiver Keelan Doss caught 13 balls for 131 yards, recording his school-record 15th career 100-yard receiving performance. Doss’ touchdown with 69 seconds left in regulation cut the Idaho State lead too 37-35. Maier fired a strike to sophomore Jared Harrell in the back of the end-zone for the game-tying two-point conversion.

“We were confident, we were at home, and we had a great crowd behind us, and we had momentum,” said Maier regarding the first OT game for him and his teammates. “And we had a great plan because we practice plays in special situations all the time. We even ran various plays last spring for overtime situations, that hard work paid off today.

The Bengals, who were receiving votes in the latest national polls, fell to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in league play despite Mitch Gueller catching eight balls for 175 yards and James Madison finished with 147 yards on the ground on 33 carries. Gueller’s 28-yard grab was part of a 65-yard Idaho State drive to the Davis 10 to set up what would’ve been a game-winning field but Campbell Sheidow pushed the 27-yard attempt wide right, 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).

Idaho State senior quarterback Tanner Gueller/ by ISU athletics

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.

“No matter who we played, our guys showed up, played hard and hung in there. I thought we showed some resiliency and battled to the very end,” UC Davis head coach Dan Hawkins said.

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. Tanner Gueller threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns a week after claiming FCS National and Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week by throwing for 492  yards and eight touchdowns in a 64-28 win over Idaho.

UC Davis plays at Cal Poly next week. Idaho State steps out of conference play to take on Liberty, a former FCS power in its first year as an FBS independent, in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Southern Utah 48, Sacramento State 27

In front of 10,424 fans, Southern Utah snapped a five-game losing streak by rolling up 259 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

“I just want to thank Cedar City and Southern Utah,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said. “The crowd out there was amazing. We’ve struggled this year but the fans showed out, they were incredible today and really pulled us through this victory.”

The contest got off to an incredibly fast start, as the Hornets scored on their opening drive, and the Thunderbirds responded with a Judd Cockett kick return for a touchdown that quickly tied the contest up at 7-7. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, the Hornets added two more touchdowns before the end of the first quarter and held a 21-7 lead after 15 minutes despite senior quarterback Kevin Thomson being knocked out of the game.

The second quarter, however, was all SUU. Karris Davis scored back-to-back touchdowns on back-to-back drives for the Thunderbirds, which also were the first two of his career. He finished the game with 84 yards on the ground.

Southern Utah quarterback Aaron Zwahlen/ SUU athletics

SUU capped off the second quarter with a trick play that resulted in Lance Lawson hitting Austin Ewing for a touchdown. After a Hornet field goal to end the quarter, the T-Birds held a 27-24 lead heading into the break

The T-Birds were the only offense to score in the third quarter, as Jay Green Jr. scored his first touchdown of the night and Austin Ewing snuck into the end zone on the ground to put SUU up 41-24 after three quarters of play.

The Hornets scored to start the fourth quarter, but the T-Birds quickly responded as Green Jr. scored his 19th career touchdown to put SUU up 48-27, which would ultimately be the final score. Green finished with 107 yards on 20 carries.

Aaron Zwahlen finished the game 22-of-31 through the air for 153 yards. Zwahlen, Lawson and Ty Rutledge all completed a pass for SUU on Saturday.

AJ Stanley led the team in tackles with seven. The T-Birds had eight tackles for loss, five pass breakups and four quarterback hurries.

The Thunderbirds plays at Idaho next week. Sac State (0-3 in league play, 2-4 overall) hosts North Dakota for homecoming on Saturday night.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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