The second-ranked Bobcats (6-0, 3-0) edged out a victory, 48-41, over the UC Davis Aggies (2-4, 1-2) to remain undefeated on Saturday.
The California sun was shining early and often the Cats, who scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter, only to give them all back in the third. For the second straight week the Cats had four turnovers, but managed to pull out the win on the back of DeNarius McGhee and some key defensive stops.
Orenzo Davis started MSU’s scoring with a long 35-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but the Aggies answered with two rushing touchdowns of their own. Then the floodgates opened. After a 27-yard field goal by Rory Perez, McGhee ran for one touchdown and threw another to Tanner Bleskin, who returned from an injury last week to catch eight passes for 91 yards. MSU senior cornerback Darius Jones forced the fumble that led to McGhee’s touchdown run, then intercepted a pass, returning it 45 yards to put the Cats on top, 31-14.
The game looked sealed up, but as Coach Rob Ash said, “We never believe it’s over.” UC Davis returned with a 26-yard touchdown pass and a field goal to pull within a touchdown.
Shortly later, McGhee threw a costly interception deep in his own territory that was returned for the touchdown that tied the game. In six minutes the Aggies scored 17 points. To end the third quarter, UC Davis scored once more to take the lead, 38-31.
The Cats answered quickly in the fourth to tie it up on a 1-yard touchdown run by Tray Robinson, which was set up by an amazing scramble from McGhee who escaped three sacks in his end zone before running for 17 yards. The next play, McGhee hit Jon Ellis for 50 yards, setting up Robinson’s touchdown.
UC Davis reclaimed the lead on a 28-yard field goal, but Robinson again answered with a 1-yard touchdown run after an incredible interception by MSU senior defensive tackle Zach Minter turned the tide.
“I could see a little glint in people’s eyes that today might be the day we lose,” Ash said, “but then DeNarius makes his play, Zach makes his play, and we knew it wasn’t over.”
Rory Perez stretched the lead to seven by hitting a 34-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining.
Asked how they pulled this one out, Minter replied, “We just believe in each other. We are brothers and we believe that wholeheartedly. Until the very end, we stay strong and we stay resilient. I’m so proud of these guys, and I’m so blessed to be on this team.”
Tray Robinson echoed Minter’s words saying, “You can ask anyone on this team. We are brothers.”
The Bobcat brotherhood has certainly been a functional family so far this season, and looks to remain unbeaten when it returns home this Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1:35 p.m. for Parent/Family Weekend to face Eastern Washington, who is undefeated in conference play.