CSUS loses Causeway competition

AJ Taylor

Sacramento State track and field won each of the five-point Causeway Cup meets against UC Davis on April 2, but it was the Aggies who took the trophy back to Davis this year.

Of the 18 NCAA teams that compete in the name of each school, three control 10 Causeway Cup points. Football, men’s and women’s basketball control three-tenths of all Causeway Cup points and UC Davis was victorious in all three.

But it was before any of these teams met when the Aggies went onwhat would turn out to be a 32.5-point run. It all started Sept. 26 when the women’s golf team gave up 2.5 points to the Aggies when the Hornets and Aggies met for a three-day golf tournament.

After day one, Sac State was 17th in the tournament; Davis was first.

The Aggies would eventually lose some ground and finish fourth, but not nearly enough to allow for the Hornets, who remained in 17th place, to catch up.

At that point the Hornets lost the tie for the Cup, the Aggies took the lead 17.5-15. But the Causeway Classic was up next and football was ready to win its third straight classic.

Head coach Marshall Sperbeck is 2-2 when fighting for the 10 cup points his team controls. But it would turn out that, among other games, a 17-16 loss would be what did the Hornets in for the race for the Cup.

In 2010, Jeff Fleming hooked up for 23 touchdowns and handed the ball off for touchdowns 12 times to his running back, homegrown talent Bryan Hilliard. Hilliard struggled through the 2010 season with an ankle injury that would eventually take him out of the classic.

Fleming was left without his right-hand man. The Hornets led early but gave up a 13-point lead in the second half. The Aggies eventually won their 40th Classic in 58 years.

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really think about the Causeway Cup: I think about the Causeway Classic,” Sperbeck said. “That’s the only thing I concern myself with. The rest of the teams they probably feel the same way all they can do is win their game. It’s like being on a team: You’ve got to take care of your job and the rest of the team takes care of theirs.”

The men’s soccer team was able to win its Causeway game for the Hornets for the first time since 2005.

The Hornets had just come back from an East Coast tour where they lost two games against North Carolina State and 11th-ranked Duke. The Hornets won the Causeway game 2-1, but head coach Michael

Linenberger saw the game as an important stepping stone.

“We got on a nice little roll after that, Linenberger said. “It was a very important result for us and the season.”

The men were 1-2 afterward with their only win at home. It was a team goal to remain undefeated at home and the men pulled it off, even beating UC Irvine at their home. The men went on to earn a NCAA Tournament berth. They defeated Santa Clara University, but the team’s season came to an end in the second round against UCLA.

They were the first Hornet team to sting the Aggies in 2010.

“We hadn’t beaten Davis in a couple years, so we emphasized to our guys all week long that that particular game had a lot of meaning to us,” Linenberger said. “Not only did we win, we won in dominating fashion. Even though the score didn’t show it, it was one-way traffic almost the entire game.”

The Cup’s final destination of 2010 was sealed Feb. 23 on Davis’ softball diamond. The Aggies won a one-run game on two unearned runs. After that, the Hornet women dropped to 1-6 on the year. The softball team fell to UC Davis in every game this season.

The Hornet baseball team won the season series, winning three of four against UC Davis. Baseball’s one loss excluded, the only spring sports to fall to the Aggies were softball and women’s golf.

Men’s and women’s tennis handled the Aggies quickly. The men took the match 6-1; the women 6-0. Track and field dealt with the Aggies at UC Davis and the women won by a seven-point margin, with the men by a 15-point margin.

Gymnastics had a home meet against the Aggies, and pulled off a .901 point victory.

In the end it was UC Davis that edged out Sac State by 6.25 points. This is the third lowest margin of victory in the Cup’s history.

“Our first goal is always to win our conference, but equally important is the goal of beating Davis in all of the events we compete against them,” said Sac State Athletics Director Terry Wanless. “It’s healthy. It’s positive. It’s not a hate mentality; it’s a competitive mentality. I think that as our sports programs continue to grow you will see the student and the campus engagement take on a new level.”


You can reach AJ Taylor at [email protected]