Tehran Thomas UNI 2018
Wayne Tilcock/AggiePhoto.com
Northern Iowa UNI 7-6
UC Davis UCD 10-2
Score By Quarters
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th F
UNI Northern Iowa 6 0 7 3 16
UCD UC Davis 10 6 7 0 23

Game Recap: Football | | Mark Honbo

No. 6 Aggies down Panthers to advance to NCAA quarterfinal

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DAVIS, Calif. - Junior quarterback Jake Maier completed 28 of 42 passes for 310 yards while senior wide receiver Keelan Doss hauled in nine catches for 137 yards, helping UC Davis to a 23-16 win over Northern Iowa in an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision second-round contest at Aggie Stadium in front of 8,306 fans Saturday night.

The Aggies improve to 10-2 for the year and will face Big Sky Conference rival Eastern Washington in next Saturday's quarterfinal. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. PST at Roos Field.

Junior kicker Max O'Rourke kicked a career-high three field goals while junior tight end Wesley Preece and redshirt freshman running back Ulonzo Gilliam each added touchdowns for UC Davis offensively. Four Aggies -- Devon King, Isiah Olave, Mason Moe and Quincy Bennett -- each had seven tackles to pace the Aggies on the defensive end. Sophomore Erron Duncan and senior Vincent White both had interceptions.

UC Davis faced a 6-3 deficit late in the first half, with both teams only managing to put field goals on the scoreboard: one by O'Rourke, two by Panther senior Austin Errthum. However, the Aggies rolled off 23 unanswered points, starting with Preece's four-yard touchdown from Maier in the final minute of the opening quarter.

Two O'Rourke field goals in the second frame then Gilliam's two-yard plunge midway through the third provided UC Davis with a 23-6 margin.

However, it was a play that took place prior to O'Rourke's final field goal, which sailed through the uprights when time expired at the end of the first half, which pushed the Aggies' lead to 16-6, that set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Starting on its own 35, with 2:57 left until the break, UC Davis marched down the field, but faced fourth and 10 on UNI's 36 with 16 seconds left in the half. Faced with numerous decisions, Aggie head coach Dan Hawkins chose to go for it, much to the delight of the fans in attendance.

That gamble paid off when Maier and Doss connected for 31 yards, which pushed the Aggies to UNI's 5-yard line with a few ticks remaining.

On that play, Maier threw the ball along the near sideline, Doss simply out-jumped the multiple Panther defenders and landed on the turf with the ball. As athletic as that catch was, it was Maier's perfect throw that set up his teammate since he was the only one who could have made a play in the first place, since the ball would have drifted out-of-bounds had Doss not snared that pass.

UNI answered with a one-yard Trevor Allen scoring run with six minutes left in the third, then Errthum's third field goal -- this time for 45 yards -- brought UNI to within one possession with 14:09 remaining in the fourth.

Neither side were able to score beyond that point. Each team failed on field goal, then a Moe pass breakup stopped the Panthers on downs with 2:05 left in the contest. With no UNI timeouts remaining, UC Davis knelt on three straight plays to expire the clock.

Doss' 137-yard performance extends his school record of 100-yard games to 18. Tehran Thomas led UC Davis on the ground with 87 yards on 13 carries. 

For UNI, senior quarterback Eli Dunne threw for 273 yards while Allen rushed for 62 net yards. Bryce Flater was one of three Panthers with 11 tackles and had five for losses of 11 yards.

UC Davis Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Dan Hawkins
RE: UC Davis' victory

"What a game. Give Northern Iowa a lot of credit, those guys played a tough game last week, suffered a lot of injuries and had a lot of guys beat up. That's a battle-tested team."

"Coach Farley's had them in the playoffs for a long time. That being said, super proud of these guys, the way they won, and it wasn't in a typical fashion for our team. I thought our defense played exceptional football, created turnovers and made lots of stops in the red zone."

"I just don't think our guys ever flinched, I think they have a strong belief in themselves. These guys show up every day and they're consistent. We always talk about staying off the mountain and out of the valley and that's easier said than done. There is a whole locker room of dudes that contribute in so many invisible ways, that you never see, and that's what great teams are made of."

RE: Reacting to the Northern Iowa's adjustments on Keelan Doss
"Keelan is so smart, he knows what's going on and trusts us to recommend certain plays. He will come to the staff and say 'hey we should try this,' or 'we should do this,' or 'I think this could happen because this is what they're doing to me.'"

"He's a big physical, strong, fast guy, and everyone looks at that. But we see all the wonderful things he is as a person and they started playing, and that's what they did, they stared playing a lot more outside the box, and basically said 'OK, we're going to take away that part of your game and make you prove that you can run it inside."

RE: Legacy of this year's team
"Well, they're the gold standard. Back in the old days, we didn't play these kinds of teams or play at this level. And when I first came here (as head coach), I didn't want them to be shackled by Aggie Pride or the past. I wanted them to be inspired by our history; they certainly have lived up to it and more."

"Every Aggie that played here will look at this team and see it as the new gold standard."

RE: Vincent White
"He's always our matchup guy, and sometimes they go at him. I thought he had a phenomenal game tonight."

"Last year, you saw a guy that had a tremendous amount of ability ... and to see him this year come out and just be unflappable, poised, and to see the growth that took place, that always makes me really proud, not just as a coach, but just to see these guys grow up. He's been phenomenal that way."

RE: Preparing for this game
"These guys have been great all week. This week, we had a number of schedules from you won, you didn't win, who the opponent was, were we at home, on the road, there were multiple schedules planned, depending on a number of variables.  These guys are just great about just waking up doing what they need to do."

Senior linebacker Mason Moe
RE: Preparing for the team's first-ever FCS playoff game
"I think the mentality this week was to focus on the day, and the task at hand every day just going out to practice and fulfilling whatever it is that we need to do. I don't think the players worried about the next week, we focused on the task at hand, which was Northern Iowa. We take things day-by-day, that's our mentality."

Senior wide receiver Keelan Doss
RE: When asked about UNI's defense focusing on him throughout the second half
"At the end of the day its not about me, it's about the team. We were able to go out there, compete and contribute at every position because that is what we need to win these playoff games, especially if you want to win a national championship."

Sophomore running back Tehran Thomas
RE: Team's decision to run the ball throughout the second half
"It means a lot because the coaches trust me and Ulonzo (Gilliam) to]put the game on our backs, and trusted us to get the ball and pick up first downs. Me and Ulonzo like to rotate to keep fresh legs out there, we just tried our best to pick up first downs and help our team win."

Senior cornerback Vincent White
RE: His pass breakups
"That's just me doing my job, I can go out there and shut my side down, I just try to go out there and just do my job regardless of whoever is in front of me."

RE: Final defensive play of the game, which sealed the win for UC Davis
"Well, (Briley Moore) was hot there, so we knew that the ball was heading his way."

Senior linebacker Mason Moe
RE: Final defensive play of the game
"It's all about winning one-on-one matchups. That's what it is all about."

RE: Play of defensive unit
"When the offense needs to rely on us, we try to make plays, get the ball back to them, and vice versa. Each unit feeds off each other, that's what it came down to at the end. We had to step up in crunch time."

Northern Iowa Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Mark Farley
RE: Difference in the game
"It was probably the red zone turnovers at the end of the day." 

RE: Minimizing Doss' impact in the second half
"We really stayed with the plan we came in with. I just thought we needed to keep putting pressure on the QB, and after we settled in and found out what they were trying to do in the first half, I think our players made the adjustment. We didn't do anything in the second half we didn't do in the first half, I think we put more pressure on the QB, which made the ball come out in a different way than it was in the first half."

RE: What surprised him from UC Davis
"That first drive. Probably the first and the second drive. The initial when they got into the 4x1 stuff, I wouldn't say it was a surprise but they went after our backside freshman corner, and after he settled in he did a great job but I think but it was just his initial—it was his first start—so I think they went after him so I figured that's where they were going to go with the ball and after that we gave him a little bit more help and he settled in."

RE: What he told his team when they were trailing, 23-6
"All we had to do was stick with our plan and battle this thing into the fourth quarter because I felt that we could win this thing in the 4th quarter. I thought we could battle back on them and our defense was playing good. I knew we could move then ball on them, it was just getting it into the end zone."

RE: What you said to your team after tonight's loss?
"That they represented UNI football the way I wanted them to represent UNI football. They played with a lot of heart, a lot of toughness, we came out here, battled back from 6-23, had our chance to win and they battled the way I hoped they would. We came up short and they did a nice job—gotta give them credit and congratulate them for moving on. I think you saw a heck of a football game."

RE: Eli Dunne, Marcus Weymiuller and Duncan Ferch
"They're UNI football this year. Marcus makes play after play on 4th and short to get the 1st down. Duncan on the intercept. They do what they do and they did it tonight. Eli took some hits today, threw some nice balls, and moved it up and down the field so its not on Eli, its not on anybody. We didn't get the ball in the red zone and ultimately that was the difference in the game. It was a defensive struggle out there, but give UC Davis credit."

Senior linebacker Duncan Ferch
RE: Team's play throughout Saturday's Second Round game
"Yeah like he said we didn't really do anything different, we just stayed to the plan, we settled in. The first couple drives, you don't see a lot of 4x1, but in the third quarter I felt that we ran the ball better, had more energy, and everybody was where they needed to be."

Senior quarterback Eli Dunne
RE: Offense' inability to score
"We were moving the ball all day, we just missed on some opportunities when we got in there and you can't do that or else you're going to end up losing like we did."

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