Davis, GCU Battle it Out
Davis, GCU Battle it Out
It hasn’t been an easy ride for UC Davis, but the Aggies will play for the Spring DIAA championship in two weeks against Florida State.
The road took them through a very difficult Chico State in the Pacific Western final, a gritty Cal State Long Beach team in Saturday’s Spring quarterfinal, and then an exciting Grand Canyon team that proved much this weekend.
Davis beat CSULB 46-21 on Saturday, while GCU came back to overhaul Western Washington 17-14. On Sunday, Davis looked to be in control against Grand Canyon, running a nice misdirection play off a scrum to get close, and then squirming over the line for the opening try.
Davis put GCU under a ton of pressure, and had the wind in their favor. But they also missed some scoring opportunities as Josh Farnsworth wasn’t always on target with his penalty kicks. However, the boot did produce a try as a long, rolling kick into the GCU 22 was chased down nicely by the Aggie backs. GCU was slow to kick clear, and center Ari Wargon blocked the kick and followed on to score.
It was a try born out of using the conditions and out of hustle, and it gave Davis a 12-0 lead.
Grand Canyon tried to run at almost every opportunity, and even though that was often from deep in the Antelopes’ half, they did fairly well. Connor Fischman finished off a really nice movement that he was involved in several times, as the ball was moved back and forth down the right-hand side. Farnsworth whacked over a long-range penalty - about 36 meters, but missed on two others that could have really put the Aggies in command.
But tries work, too. GCU again tried to run out of their own 22. They made it to about halfway, only to leave a runner isolated. He was penalized for holding onto the ball. Davis took the lineout, spun it wide, and the try was there for the taking.
Good teams keep faith in their plan, and so despite a couple of missed kicks, Farnsworth was asked to go for three once more before the break, and he made it, from about 39 meters, for a 23-5 Davis lead.
Was it enough? GCU had the wind, and that would help them, as Davis opted not to kick much anymore. Instead they defended as GCU came back. Maceo Brown scored after a long period of Davis defense. And then, when the ‘Lopes got a penalty inside the Davis half at a spot where most would go for the lineout, they tapped quickly, and Brendon Curle found a gap and was gone. Suddenly it was 23-17.
“The day before I had watched GCU beat Western Washington in the last eight minutes,” said Davis Head Coach Kal Incendy. “And I thought we could see it happen again. At 23-17 they score one more try and we could lose 23-24.”
After getting into the GCU half, Davis got a penalty off at an angle. Farnsworth was called on again, and he put the clutch kick right through the uprights.
“We needed that penalty and he nailed it,” said Incendy. “It was a very interesting game. GCU was on of the toughest opponents we’ve played all year. They came to win and they were pretty physical. For us, I think we came up big on defense. We fought for it, and we’re getting better every week. We need to work on our accuracy, but we are striving for continuous improvement and we’re getting there.”
No. 8 Dom Burke stood out on the day, and led that defensive effort.
Also important for UC Davis was their faculty advisor, Professor Donal Walsh, who was unable to accompany the team due to illness. The teams held a moment of respect for Dr. Walsh and certainly the Davis players wanted to put in a big performance for him. And that they did.