Bears football rallies, but it’s too little, too late in homecoming loss to UC Davis

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University of Northern Colorado Defensive Coordinator Marty English talks to players in an Oct. 6 game at Nottingham Field in Greeley. Photo by Betty Gebregzabheir

Homecoming 2018 will not be remembered as a good one for the University of Northern Colorado Bears football team. No. 16 UC Davis pulled into town on a stormy night and stormed Nottingham with ease.

The Bears would repel all they could, but were simply overpowered by quarterback Jake Maier and the Aggie offense. Whether it was NFL prospect Keelan Doss catching the pass or Ulonzo Gilliam running the ball, the Aggies marched all over the homecoming parade.

Five passing touchdowns and two running touchdowns totaled the Bears chances early on. UNC went into halftime facing a respectable 28-10 deficit. By the early stages of the fourth quarter that margin would swing open to 49-10.

From there the Bears would go on a 26-0 rally to show some sort of spirit on what should have been the most spirited game of the season.

While this was primarily against second-string players it showed the Bears do have talent and fire, it just was not accessible earlier.

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The focus now sharply turns from a winning season to inspiring players to show why they belong in starting roles and who can show the most improvement.

In the FCS level of college football there are no participation trophy bowl games. There is the National Championship and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Celebration Bowl, but other than that 122 other teams have to find their own way to end the season.

UNC needs to find its end of season goal, get every single player and staff member on that page and work to improve themselves each day. There are five games left and there needs to be change otherwise they will end in similar disappointment to these previous games.

How It Happened

First Half

UNC gave the crowd a false sense of hope on the first drive by causing a three-and-out for the Aggie offense. Regan would throw an unnecessary interception on UNC’s fourth play.

UC Davis smelled blood in the water and never looked back while they attacked the Bears relentlessly. The Aggies would go onto have more drives with touchdowns than not in the first half.

The Bears offense would sputter in place by punting on drive No. 2 and throwing another careless interception on drive 3.

An errant kickoff out of bounds would inspire the UNC offense to lead its first successful drive. Hard-nosed running and steady throws from Regan would end in a six-yard touchdown run by Trae Riek.

Two drives later the Bears would show promise once again, but the Aggie redzone defense finally made an appearance by breaking up two passes and dropping Riek behind the line. The drive would amount to something as the Bears produced a field goal.

Half time: UC Davis 28, UNC 10

Second Half

The trustworthy Milo Hall got caught off guard and fumbled the ball on UNC’s first drive out of the half.

Jake Maier knew just what to do with the ball and hit Keelan Doss for a 25-yard teardrop pass touchdown.

Penalties would stunt the productivity of UNC’s next drive forcing a punt.

Once again Maier would exemplify the model Big Sky quarterback performance with two 20 plus yard completions and a Wesley Peerce nine-yard touchdown catch.

Both defenses would show up for a drive each before backup Aggie quarterback Brock Johnson would make his presence known with a 16-yard pass for a touchdown.

The Bears frustration would finally be channeled into something useable in a 26 point rally.

University of Northern Colorado receiver Noah Sol runs a route in an Oct. 6 game against UC Davis at Nottingham Field in Greeley. Photo by Betty Gebregzabheir

A few good passes gave Regan the confidence to throw a 34-yard dart to Alex Wesley for a huge momentum shift. With the defense spread out UNC ran the ball enough to get a Milo Hall six-yard touchdown run complete with a Noah Sol two-point conversion catch.

UNC kicked off and the returner made it to about the 25-yard line, but upon review, the Aggie returner was actually down at the 2-yard line. The starving Bears defense put the Aggies on their backs two plays in a row, resulting in a safety on the second play caused by Henry Stelzner and company.

The Bears offense came back with ups and downs, but a 22-yard catch by Alex Wesley on fourth down and a Milo Hall touchdown catch the next play with Wesley catching the two-point conversion as well propelled the Bears.

On the kickoff Collin Root would attempt an onside kick and UNC recovered the ball. Wesley and Sol would both catch 30 plus yard catches on their way to the 26-point rally.

Wesley would continue to be the Bears savior by catching both the touchdown pass on a slant route and snagging the two-point conversion.

Root would attempt onside kick two, but that fell apart for the Bears and the rally would end at 26.

Final: UC Davis 49, UNC 36        

The Mirror’s Keys to the Game Checklist

Defense:

  • Stop Doss: This is a feat for any team to accomplish. Doss may not have shown 100 percent effort Saturday, but his posturizing touchdown catch established the fact that he is a dangerous talent.
  • Pass Coverage: This may be an all season struggle besides the game at Weber State. Jake Maier had a good day by any measure throwing all over the UNC defense.
  • Stop the run: Thanks to the intimidating nature and pure awareness of Henry Stelzner the run was thwarted and underutilized by the Aggies.

Offense:

  • Next man up: Regan had a terrible first half and let his frustrations takeover instead of being the leader the Bears needed. But, to his credit he led an onslaught in the fourth quarter against the UC Davis reserves.
  • Dual Run Threat: While the yardage was less than ideal, both backs had touchdowns which is very promising moving forward.
  • Blocking: Four sacks and two interceptions due to pressure just cannot be ignored or excused.

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