Vanden is the only MEL team to come within 20 points of Vacaville in three of the past four years. The Vikings lost 35-17 to the Bulldogs two years ago, their last loss on their way to the state 3-AA championship.
Will C. Wood lost 34-31 to Vacaville in 2018, three years after the Wildcats humbled the Bulldogs in a 49-26 victory. The Bulldogs’ last MEL loss was 28-21 to Napa in 2016. Vacaville has won 27 in a row since then.
One week was all it took for the Big Sky Conference football season to be blown wide open. Three of the top four teams in the coaches’ preseason poll lost Saturday, proving again that predicting the order of finish before the first conference games are played is nothing more than premature propaganda.
Those three losses shuffled the FCS rankings. Idaho climbed from No. 10 to No. 6 by knocking off No. 4 Sacramento State 36-27. The Hornets dropped to No. 9 with their first regular-season loss since 2021.
The Vandals enjoyed a 17-minute advantage in time of possession and contained Kaiden Bennett. The Hornets quarterback was held to 17 yards on 10 carries after running for 100 in each of Sacramento State’s past two games.
Idaho was predicted to finish fifth by the coaches and second in the media poll, so Big Sky coaches apparently do not know it all.
Sacramento State was predicted to finish third. UC Davis was second, but the Aggies lost 27-24 to Eastern Washington to fall to 0-11 against the Eagles. UC Davis dropped from No. 15 to No. 20 in the rankings.
UC Davis maintained a 24-20 lead when the defense stopped Eastern Washington on fourth-and-goal at the 3-yard line with 3:08 to play in the third quarter. That forced the offense to take possession with bad field position.
Having to punt from the 3 when three plays produced nothing proved costly for UC Davis. Eastern Washington took possession at its 42 and marched 58 yards in nine plays to score the go-ahead touchdown.
Lan Larison rushed for 201 yards in the first half, including a 78-yard touchdown dash. The junior carried the Aggies to a touchdown on their first possession of the second half with nine carries for 54 yards. Miles Hastings capped the 12-play 75-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring pass to Trent Tompkins.
That was the last series of the night for Larison, however. He sustained an undisclosed injury and could be out for “some time,” said Skip Powers, assistant director of athletics communications at UC Davis.
Larison’s departure allowed Vacaville High School graduate Darian Leon-Guerrero to get one carry and catch a 14-yard pass.
Hastings completed a season-high 75 percent (24 of 32) of his passes, but the junior averaged a 6.8 yards per completion – his lowest average in a game this season when he has completed 20 or more passes. Hastings had just one game last season in which he averaged fewer than 7 yards per completion.
UC Davis had a chance to tie it with 3:20 to play, but Hunter Ridley’s field-goal attempt from 31 yards was blocked. The sophomore had been 6-for-6 this season after a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Saturday’s game at Cal Poly will be an opportunity for UC Davis to regain momentum. The Aggies have a six-game winning streak against the Mustangs and scored more than 40 points in three of those victories.
Eastern Washington cracked into the rankings at No. 25 with the victory. The Eagles will host Idaho on Saturday.
Weber State was predicted to finish fourth by the coaches, but the Wildcats were whipped 40-0 at home by Montana State. The third-ranked Bobcats were predicted to finish first in the coaches and media polls. Weber State fell from No. 8 to No. 14 in the rankings.
Montana dropped from No. 11 to No. 16 in the rankings with a 28-14 loss at Northern Arizona. The Grizzlies were predicted to finish third in the media poll and sixth by the coaches. The victory was the first of the season for the Lumberjacks and their first in 15 games against a ranked opponent since 2018.
The Grizzlies managed just 18 rushing yards in their first loss of the season. That was their lowest total since being held to 17 yards on the ground in a 17-10 loss to Weber State in 2019.
Northern Arizona was predicted to finish eighth in the media poll and ninth by the coaches. The Lumberjacks will face another ranked team on Saturday when they travel to Sacramento State for a 6 p.m. game.