Isiah Olave spent Thanksgiving Day in Columbus, Ohio of all places. The UC senior defensive back took advantage of the Aggies’ first-round bye in the FCS playoffs to make the trip with his parents and brother. Josh was available to go because his sophomore season at Azusa Pacific came to an end Nov. 17 with a fist-round loss in the Division II playoffs.
Josh is a cornerback and was a first-team selection to the All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference team after leading the conference in interceptions with five. That is four more Isiah has in his final campaign at UC Davis. Isiah could change that Saturday when UC Davis plays its first Division I playoff game by hosting Northern Iowa at 4 p.m.
There is no chance of Isiah matching his brother’s all-conference honor, although Isiah was a third-team selection in the Big Sky Conference. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Isiah ranks third for the Aggies in tackles with 53 and has held his own against taller receivers.
His youngest brother fits the description of a tall receiver because Chris is 6-1. Chris is also the reason why Isiah, Josh and their parents made the trip to Columbus. It was not so such for Thanksgiving as it was to hopefully watch Chris put his hands to good use for Ohio State in last Saturday’s showdown with Michigan. And to their delight, Chris did just that and in more ways than one.
Two receptions and two touchdowns would have been nore than enough to make his family’s trip worthwhile. Chris added the whipped cream to their pumpkin pie by blocking a punt in the third quarter that the Buckeyes returned for a touchdown and a 34-19 lead on their way to a 62-39. The Wolverines had never allowed so many points. They can blame Chris for 21.
That their football schedules worked out for Isiah and Josh to watch Chris play made his breakout performance all the more special. “He has put all in the work and to show out at that level, I’m so proud of him,” Isiah said. “I’m always trying to help him out. He’s a smart guy. He gets it.”
Ohio State’s 11-1 record does not come as a surprise. That UC Davis is 9-2 and shared the Big Sky championship would surprise most everyone except Aggies head coach Dan Hawkins, his assistants and the players. This is Isiah’s fifth year at UC Davis after redshirting in 2016, and the Aggies won just seven games in the first three. They won five in 2017 after Hawkins returned to his alma mater and restored pride in the program.
“That 5-6 season gave us newfound confidence,” Isiah said. “That’s really helped us out this year. We worked our tails off in the summer. We all thought we had a shot to do something bigger.”
Aggie Stadium will be loaded Saturday when UC Davis takes aim at its first postseason victory since the Division II playoffs in 2002.