10:00 PM ET, September 17, 2005
Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Jon Grant stepped into the huddle before UC Davis' final drive and delivered a message to his teammates that would have seemed most improbable just a few hours earlier.
"What better stage could we be on. We're at Stanford Stadium. We're about to go on a game-winning drive," Grant told his teammates.
Then he delivered, capping a 72-yard march with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Blaise Smith with 8 seconds left Saturday night to stun Stanford 20-17 and spoil coach Walt Harris' home debut for the Cardinal.
After UC Davis (1-2) lost its opening two games to New Hampshire and Portland State, going on the road against a Pac-10 team didn't seem like the place for a team making the transition from Division II to Division I-AA to get its first win.
After falling behind 17-0 midway through the second quarter, it seemed even more unlikely, but the Aggies didn't give in and became the first non-Division I-A team ever to beat Stanford.
"We're always the underdogs," Grant said. "We're not that big, we're not that strong, we're not that fast. We just go out and play football the way it should be played."
Harris, the offensive-minded coach hired to replace Buddy Teevens after three straight losing seasons, is off to a rough start at Stanford (1-1).
The Cardinal did not score an offensive touchdown and gained only 180 yards on the night, struggling after starting quarterback Trent Edwards went down with an injured right hand in the first quarter.
"The bottom line when you lose, you lose," Harris said. "It doesn't matter if it's Davis or USC. When you play like that, you will lose every game."
After T.C. Ostrander's last-ditch pass fell incomplete at the 5, the Aggies celebrated in the end zone while Harris looked stunned as he walked off the field with his team. The Aggies then ran to the corner of the stadium to thank the thousands of fans who made the two-hour trip from Davis for the game.
"When they announced the schedule our fans were really excited and got together and bought tickets," UC Davis defensive line coach Fred Arp said. "I've been here 39 years and nothing compares."
The Aggies mounted the winning drive after Emmanuel Benjamin missed two field goals earlier in the fourth quarter that could have tied the game at 17. They took over at their 28 with 2:37 to play. Grant threw a 12-yard pass to Brandon Rice and a 17-yarder to Smith to get the drive started.
Then on a third-and-4 from the Stanford 25, Grant hit a wide-open Tony Kays for 19 yards over the middle for a first down. After a 3-yard keeper and an incomplete pass, Grant found Smith open in the front corner of the end zone to cap the 11-play drive.
"We always felt confident," Smith said. "I don't know what they said at halftime, but we just saw that small opening and it was enough. ... I knew if we got the ball back in our desperation offense, we could make the plays. It seemed like we always do."
Grant finished 23-for-43 for 251 yards and also ran for 41 yards. Nelson Doris ran for two scores and Kays caught 10 passes for 115 yards.
Ostrander struggled in place of Edwards, going 7-for-17 for 108 yards and one interception. The Cardinal also lost three fumbles, including two on muffed punts, and struggled against the undersized UC Davis front.
"It's hard to pinpoint one thing," Ostrander said. "Collectively on offense we didn't get the job done. I was extremely disappointed in how I played."
The Aggies beat a Division I-A team for the first time since 1986 against Pacific. It was the first time in 65 years they had faced a team that currently is in the Pac-10 and they lost to Stanford the only previous time they played 59-0 in 1932 when Pop Warner was Stanford's coach.
Stanford scoring twice on fumble recoveries in and UC Davis' first two touchdowns coming after Cardinal fumbles.
With Stanford leading 3-0, Ostrander drove his team down the field on his first drive before being intercepted at the 1 by Adam Cook. But on the next play, Kevin Schimmelmann sacked Grant in the end zone, knocked the ball loose and fell on it to make it 10-0 late in the first quarter.
Stanford's second defensive score came midway through the second quarter when Babatunde Oshinowo stripped Doris and Michael Craven scooped the ball up and ran it back 54 yards to make it 17-0.
UC Davis had to punt on its next drive and David Marrero tried to field it inside his 5, muffed a fair catch attempt and Cook recovered at the 3. Doris ran it in on the next play to make it 17-7.
The Aggies struck quickly in the second half after Luis Amaral ripped the ball away from Anthony Kimble and recovered at the Stanford 41. That set up a 1-yard score by Doris that made it 17-14.