a Gift to CSUS
l Capital University Journal
Years - Hooray for Causeway
the first year Sac State fielded a football team in 1953, only one opponent
has been on the Hornets’ schedule every single season—no wonder
they call the match-up “classic.”
The Hornet faithful were out in force for this year’s
50th Causeway Classic, Oct. 4 at Hornet Stadium, but an Aggie victory
left UC Davis leading the series 35-16. Photo by Steve McKay
This October the Sac State Hornets faced their most familiar rival, the
UC Davis Aggies, for the 50th time in the regular season. Though the annual
meeting has only been known as Causeway Classic since 1983, it has been
the can’t-miss game from the start for fans throughout the region,
drawing record crowds. Three of the last four Causeways rank among the top
football crowds in Sac State history.
enormous popularity has even resulted in a déjà vu for boosters.
When the Classic outgrew the Aggies’ Toomey Field, Davis began playing
its home games at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento, former venue of the (then)
Sacramento State College Hornets and site of the first-ever pairing of the
first Hornet football team suited up in 1954, also the first year
of the annual game with the UC Davis Aggies.
UC Davis leads the Causeway Classic
Sac State assistant head coach Angus McClure is one of just five
Hornets to defeat the Aggies five times. McClure was an offensive
lineman from 1988-91, during the team’s longest winning streak
against UC Davis (which included two matchups in 1988).
The Causeway Classic has drawn 439,616 fans over the past 49 years.
The two largest Sac State football crowds have come against UC Davis.
In 1999, 20,993 attended the game while the 2001 contest drew 17,328.
Senior linebacker Park McAllister is the only player on the 2003
Hornet roster to have played in a Sac State victory over the Aggies.
McAllister, who redshirted last season, was a freshman on the 1999
Other sports have jumped on the bandwagon. Baseball and volleyball both
stage their own Causeway Classics. But the football game remains the biggie.
In 1954 State Hornet sports reporter Ron Clark predicted the future of the
series, and its namesake, writing, “The spirit, optimism and the desire
to win the first yearly game will replace the lack of tradition and at 2
p.m. tomorrow will be born an annual football classic which eventually may
compare to other rivalries in this area.”
Here’s a look at five decades of the Causeway Classic:
The inaugural Hornet-Aggie “gridiron tilt” was significant
for a pair of firsts—the first Homecoming Game in the first football
Events surrounding the game included the Herky Hop Homecoming dance for
Sacramento State College and UC Davis students. Tickets for the 1 p.m.,
Saturday game at Hughes Stadium were $1.50 with free admission for students.
In the days leading
up to the 1955 game, a group of Sac State students temporarily absconded
with the UC Davis Victory Bell.
Early on, leaders at the two schools realized that bragging
rights go beyond the field. Reports of “mischief” following
the first year’s game resulted in a pact for a healthy spirit of
rivalry that didn’t involve property damage. The terms of the agreement
didn’t stop a group of rambunctious Sacramento State College students
from absconding with the Aggie victory bell long enough to get their photo
taken by a State Hornet photographer.
Decade record: Hornets 2, Aggies 4
The Stanford-Cal game has The Axe. The Nevada-UNLV game has the Fremont
Cannon. In 1960, real estate developer and Sac State alum Jeri Striezik
gave the University a full-size 19th-century Victorian carriage to serve
as a perpetual trophy between the two schools. If the carriage was in
the losing team’s possession, it was to be transported to the winning
college’s campus at the loser’s expense.
Decade record: Hornets 7, Aggies 3
In the turbulent early 70s, much of the campus’ attention was with
the war in Vietnam and, later, Watergate. But students took a break from
their concerns over the draft and rallies to impeach President Nixon to
check in with the annual game against what the State Hornet described
as their “Davis arch-rivals.” Coach Ray Clemons called the
match-up the “internal Sacramento Valley Championship.”
Decade record: Hornets 0, Aggies 10
In the early 80s, 30 years after the first Hornet-Aggie matchup, the game
got the official “Causeway Classic” title. Former Sac State
sports information director Mike Duncan is credited with creating the
name, which comes from the Yolo Causeway that separates the city of Davis
from the Capital City. Of course, one State Hornet sports reporter claimed
it was so named “‘Cause CSUS wants to win, ‘cause UC
Davis wants to win, and ‘cause the winner will have territorial
rights and be able to brag for the next 12 months about how good they
Decade record: Hornets 2, Aggies 8 (Non-Causeway NCAA Div. II
championship: Hornets: 1, Aggies 0)
For the 1990 game, the Hornets got a boost from three people who didn’t
even take part in the Classic. After injured Sac State quarterback Bobby
Fresques received phone calls from San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana, Ronnie
Lott and Steve Young, he paid a visit to practice. A motivated Hornet
squad posted its third-straight Causeway victory. The 50-18 score was
Sac State’s largest contest win. The 1999 Classic drew 20,993—the
largest attendance in Sac State history.
Decade record: Hornets 4, Aggies 6
The 50th Causeway in 2003 saw the return of the carriage trophy. After
several years in retirement, the coach made an appearance at the game.
Supporters hope to create a scale-model trophy for ease of exchange at
Decade record: Hornets 0, Aggies 4
By 1986’s muddy match-up, the annual meeting of the Sac State
Hornets and UC Davis Aggies had officially received its “Causeway
Causeway trophy—a Victorian carriage donated by a Sac State
alum—was the seat of honor for the Homecoming Queen in the
yearly parade down J Street.