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After looking strong in their last two games, the Wildcats took a step back on Saturday night against the University of California, Davis, falling 37-13 in California.
“I was surprised with how we started and how we reacted to what they did,” said WSU Head Coach Jody Sears. “We got caught right on our heels at the beginning . . . We have to get in position to make plays. The only way we can get through this is to keep fighting our way out of it.”
The Wildcats’ first-quarter woes continued as they were once again held scoreless in the first frame of play. WSU had a chance to try a field goal, but Sears tried to go for it.
On WSU’s first drive, the Wildcats got to the Aggies’ 30-yard line and then elected to go for it on fourth down, instead of attempting a field goal. UC Davis stopped the Wildcats, getting the ball back.
To start the second quarter, UC Davis scored its second touchdown of the game, going up 17-0.
UC Davis took advantage of the good field position, scoring its third touchdown of the first half.
Late in the second quarter, the Wildcats once again got into Aggie territory, thanks to a run by quarterback Mike Hoke on a broken play. As WSU was driving closer to the goal line, the Wildcats were sent back by a holding penalty on cornerback Nate Walker, which stopped the WSU drive after the Wildcats missed a field goal.
The Wildcats did manage to get on the scoreboard before the half. Hoke hit Walker across the middle for the Wildcats’ first points of the game. It was the first touchdown the Wildcats have scored in the first half this season. The Wildcats have been outscored 110-12 in the first halves of games this season.
On WSU’s first drive of the second half, the Wildcats quickly moved into Aggie territory, moving the ball inside the 20-yard line thanks to a short pass to C.J. Tuckett. Despite the good field position, things turned sour for WSU: Hoke was sacked and set the Wildcats up with a fourth and long.
Sears elected to punt, after taking a delay-of-game penalty, instead of attempting a field goal. The punt pinned the Aggies inside their own 10-yard line. UC Davis was unable to advance the ball and punted, but, on WSU’s first play of that drive, Hoke threw his second interception of the game, giving the Aggies the ball back on WSU’s 37-yard line.
On the second play after Hoke was intercepted, the Wildcats got the ball back, after Devin Pugh came up with an interception deep in WSU’s territory.
Throughout the third quarter, the Wildcats struggled with mental mistakes, having multiple plays negated due to penalties or missed catches. The Aggies also had a number of penalties called against them in the third quarter. WSU was also hurt by turnovers, turning the ball over five times in the loss.
Tuckett said the Wildcats were hurt by the amount of errors they made.
“We aren’t making enough plays and are making too many mistakes and mental errors,” he said. “You make too many mistakes and you can’t win. We just need to come out with more energy and trust our fundamentals. We have to pick ourselves up. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to move forward.”
Some consolation came for the Wildcats when Hoke got the second touchdown of the game for WSU. Deep in Aggie territory, Hoke snapped the ball and took off toward the end zone, hurdling a UC Davis defender for the touchdown.
The Wildcats were unable to score again, falling 37-13.
Now WSU will return home to take on California Polytechnic State University on Friday night. This is the first time since 2004 that the Wildcats have started 0-4. In 2004, WSU started the season out losing its first eight games.