A season that started fast ended quickly for UC Davis.
Undone by a dominant rushing attack and their own six interceptions, the Aggies fell to South Dakota State 56-24 Saturday afternoon in the chill of Brookings in an NCAA FCS playoff opener.
South Dakota State (9-3) will play at No. 4-seeded Sacramento State (9-2) on Dec. 4 at Hornet Stadium.
This season marked the 21st time UCD reached the postseason, all since 1977, and was the program’s second FCS entry since 2018 under coach Dan Hawkins, when it won a share of the Big Sky Conference championship. Saturday marked UCD’s worst playoff loss since a 54-21 setback to Texas A&M Kingsville in a Division II contest in 1998.
UCD started this season 8-1 with offensive balance and strong defense, but the Aggies had no answers for the Jackrabbits, a storied program that was playing in the FCS playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. SDSU reached the FCS title game in the shortened spring season and carried the momentum into this fall.
South Dakota State rushed for 446 yards with Isaiah Davis going for 217 yards on 15 carries and an 18-yard touchdown, and Pierre Strong rushed for 185 yards and had scoring runs of 2 and 13 yards. Strong also had a touchdown pass to quarterback Chris Oladokun, who tossed two of his own scoring passes.
The six defensive interceptions are a program record for the Jackrabbits, and three of them were by Dalys Beanum, who returned one 59 yards for a touchdown for a 56-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Adam Bock returned an earlier deflected pass 39 yards for a score for South Dakota State.
Senior Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. rushed for 73 yards and a score in his final UCD game. He bows out as the Aggies’ second all-time career rusher with 3,119 yards. Miles Hastings started for UCD at quarterback and passed for 73 yards and a touchdown. Hunter Rodrigues passed for 146 yards for UCD and ran for a score.