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Fall 2003 l Capital University Journal

50 Years - Hooray for Causeway

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
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
 From 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.”

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.

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
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 series 34-16

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 team.

  The 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 two schools.
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:

1950s
The inaugural Hornet-Aggie “gridiron tilt” was significant for a pair of firsts—the first Homecoming Game in the first football season.

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.
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

1960s
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

1970s
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

1980s
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 are.”
Decade record: Hornets 2, Aggies 8 (Non-Causeway NCAA Div. II championship: Hornets: 1, Aggies 0)

1990s
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

2000s
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 future Causeways.
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 Classic” moniker.
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
The 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.



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