Sophomore quarterback Montel Aaron threw for 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns after entering the game in the 3rd Quarter, but came up just short in the Spartans’ comeback bid as SJSU fell to UC Davis 44-38 in a disastrous defensive performance for SJSU in the 2018 season opener in front of an announced crowd of 12,675 at CEFCU Stadium.
The teams combined for 1,095 yards of offense with UC Davis racking up 453 yards in the first half alone and finished with 589. The Spartans finished with 506, including 365 through the air.
San Jose State also hurt themselves with three turnovers. One resulted in an Aggies’ touchdown. Another was deep in UC Davis territory. The Spartans came up with a Dakari Monroe intercpetion that preceded the Spartans’ first score of the game. Twelve penalties didn’t help either.
Both teams jumped out to a quick start in the first quarter as the Spartans struck for a pair of redzone touchdowns. Starting quarterback Josh Love found JaQuan Blackwell for a six yard score and running back Tyler Nevens scored the first of two first half touchdowns from two yards out for an early 14-7 lead. Nevens, who finished with a team-high 78 yards before leaving the game with an injury, also scored from 23 yards out in the second quarter.
Down 14-7, UC Davis (1-0) quickly rattled off 21 unanswered points as running back Ulonzo Gilliam and quarterback Jake Maier each scored a pair of touchdowns to take a 35-21 lead into the half.
SJSU (0-1) played three quarterbacks with the starter Love finishing with 109 yards and a touchdown with one interception on 14-of-29 passing. Michael Carrillo started the second half, but was lifted for Aaron after two series. Aaron played the remainder of the game and led the Spartans’ comeback bid with a pair of touchdown passes.
With just two seconds remaining in the third quarter, Aaron hooked up with Bailey Gaither for a 79-yard score, however the Aggies responded with a touchdown pass of their own, Maier’s third of the game, for the insurance needed to finish out the game.
Aaron hooked up with Gaither once again from 17 yards out with just 1:24 to play, but the Spartans were unsuccessful on the ensuing onside kick attempt leading to the Aggies closing the game in victory formation.
Gaither finished with a game-high 137 yards and two scores on six receptions for the Spartans. Josh Oliver added 86 yards on eight grabs.
For the Aggies, Maier finished with 446 yards passing on 37-of-55 attempts while Gilliam had a game-high 132 yards and two scores on the ground.
It was a disappointing night for SJSU, especially considering it was a guaranteed game and had to pay UC Davis $400,000 to play in San Jose. Up next for the Spartans is a trip to Pullman, Washington next Saturday where they take on the Washington State Cougars with an 8:00 pm local time kickoff.