Mustang News Staff Report
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The Cal Poly football team (1-2) will be looking to its opponent’s family weekend against Northern Arizona (2-2) in Flagstaff.
The Mustangs are carrying the momentum of a 42-14 victory in their home opener against Portland State, their first win of the season.
Northern Arizona is coming off a road loss to South Dakota, seeing their prior ranking at No. 22 disappear.
Cal Poly is still winless on the road, but is coming off a very impressive performance at home, where two players in Cal Poly’s backfield set career highs in yards. Senior fullback Brandon Howe scored two touchdowns and added 81 yards on the ground, while sophomore running back Kori Garcia rushed for 103 yards and a score. Cal Poly amassed 470 total rushing yards in the victory.
In their loss against North Dakota State, the Lumberjacks surrendered 304 yards rushing, bringing the average rushing yards against them up to 191 per game. This is a key matchup for the Mustangs and their run-heavy triple-option attack.
The Cal Poly defense had some stand-out performances by junior defensive backs Karlton Dennis and Chris Fletcher, as well as freshman Alex Suchesk. The Mustangs limited Portland State to just 106 yards through the air, and should see plenty of action again against a similarly balanced Lumberjack offense, which is led by junior quarterback Kyren Powe. Powe is averaging 224 yards per game, fourth-most in the Big Sky Conference.
Senior linebackers Nick Dzubnar and Cameron Ontko led the Mustangs with six tackles each, with 2.5 of Dzubnar’s resulting in a loss of yardage. Dzubnar leads the Mustangs in tackles this season with 41.
Cal Poly’s previous meeting with Northern Arizona was a low-scoring, competitive affair, with the Mustangs on the losing end of a 17-13 final score. The Mustangs threatened late, but on 4th-and-1, Northern Arizona linebacker Ryan Reardon leapt over the line of scrimmage for a sack and the No. 1 spot on the SportsCenter top plays that evening. The Mustangs can take solace in the fact that Reardon is no longer on the Northern Arizona roster.
Last season, Northern Arizona finished 9-3 and 7-1 in the Big Sky, earning its fourth FCS playoff berth in school history. The Mustangs went 6-6 and 5-3 in the Big Sky and did not earn a playoff berth.
Cal Poly vs. Northern Arizona kicks off at 4:05 p.m. at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Arizona.