As mentioned earlier this week, the Ags’ rivalry with Sac State is a tradition that lasts decades. However, the recent history of the rivalry is particularly interesting because UC Davis is currently riding a streak of four wins.
I had the enormous fortune of seeing the last two Causeway Classics in person, and both placed among my favorite memories of Davis. The most recent, the 2013 game at Sac State, was a fantastic conclusion to a strong football season (5-3 in conference for a first-year coach!) with a giant beatdown of the favored hornets. It saw long-time Aggie quarterback Randy Wright play his last game and complete a personal four-peat against the Hornets. And it saw Gabe Manzanares cement his reputation as the best running back in the Big Sky.
There was a group of about 20 students who made the journey to Sacramento for the game. The moment of victory, with a rousing “Four more years!” chant, was the high point of the season and a beacon of hope for UC Davis that the following basketball season worked so hard to destroy.
(Sadly, only Sac State has highlight videos up, and their editing makes it look like the Hornets slaughtered us. Unfortunately for them, the scoreboard at the end says it all.)
However, the 2012 Classic stands out as it was nothing less than the greatest football game I have ever seen. A fiery Sac State offense was continually scoring with no real response from the Aggie offense. But to the delight of fans, the home team was able to stay in the game due to a chain of spectacular special-teams feats including a defensive two-point conversion (which is a real thing in college ball), a fumbled punt return recovered for touchdown, a kick return for touchdown, several two-point conversions, and a long field goal.
In the end, the game saw every possible type of score except for a safety and a PAT-safety. (I had a hard time explaining to my date how unusual the game, her first as a Davis student, actually was.) What sealed the deal, though, both in terms of the score and the game’s legacy, was a clutch late-game drive that saw the UC Davis offense explode with two 10+ yard runs and the game-winning touchdown pass. The whole drive was made possible by the Ags intercepting a Sac State wideout on a trick play, and immediately before THAT was a Hornet interception that should have sealed Sac’s victory.
Some of the fun stuff:
1:51 – Defensive two-point conversion
4:55 – Special teams touchdown #1
6:44 – Sac State QB dances mockingly at UC Davis sideline, only to throw an interception afterward
9:13 – Special teams touchdown #2
17:55 – Teams trade interceptions
So regardless of what happens and who wins (though one outcome is much more statistically likely than the other) the Causeway Classic is going to be one wild ride if recent games are anything to go by. It’s been the source of some fun and highly cherished memories, and I see no reason why this year will be any different.