Defense powers SDSU past UC Davis, 12-8


The Jackrabbit football team played a black and blue style Saturday and came away with the best result possible.

SDSU’s defense stood strong for the duration of the game, coming up with stop after stop and the Jackrabbits took care of UC Davis in its home opener, winning 12-8, in front of 11,532 people at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in the Cereal Bowl Saturday.

In just his third game and his first home game, redshirt freshman T.J. Lally took full advantage with 10 unassisted tackles, four sacks and the game-sealing fumble recovery as UC Davis desperately tried to lateral the ball around to keep the game alive. Ross Shafrath had nine tackles for the Jackrabbits.

“It was mentally taxing. The intensity was up the whole game and there wasn’t a lull, so we had to be up the whole game,” Shafrath said.

Offensively, Zach Zenner continued to carry the load for the Jackrabbits (2-1).

Zenner, the reigning Missouri Valley Football Conference offensive player of the week, ran for 197 yards and picked up a touchdown in each half. His 61-yard touchdown run in the second quarter brought the Jackrabbits within two points with 9:07 left. He gave the Jackrabbits the lead with his 23-yard touchdown run with 13:33 left. The Jacks attempted two-point conversions after both touchdowns and failed to convert on each occasion. Humble as ever, Zenner deferred credit to his offensive line.

“For the run game, it’s all about wearing down the defense and you have to have that mindset that you are getting stronger and the defense is getting weaker,” he said.

UC Davis (1-2) took the lead in the second quarter on a 69-yard interception return by Jonathan Perkins. Lined up in the “Swinging Gate” formation, the Aggies converted a two-point conversion for a 8-0 lead with 10:01 left in the first half.

Save for a few big plays, UC Davis head coach Bob Biggs said he though his team did a good job of keeping Zenner in check.

“For the most part, we contained him. He’s a workhorse. It’s a strength of what they do offensively,” Biggs said.

Unlike each of the last two seasons, SDSU comes away form its non-conference schedule with a winning record and heads to Terre Haute, Ind., next week to play Indiana State (2-1).

“You make hay when you’re in the conference. To have two FCS victories going into conference is important. You just keep on track and let’s see how good when can be in the end,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said.