The longest losing streak in Cal Poly football since the ‘60s finally came to an end Saturday night as the Mustangs beat Portland State 35-28 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Senior fullback Jared Mohamed rumbled down the field all night long, rushing for a career-high 194 yards and posting his second two-touchdown game in a row.
The Vikings (0-9) scored quickly on the opening possession of the game, marching down the field with seven straight passes. They capped off the drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass after wide receiver Josh Kraght pulled down a fake screen pass and threw a bomb to wide receiver Trent Riley in the back of the endzone.
Mustangs’ freshman slotback Broc Mortensen, who has taken over the starting slotback role from senior wide receiver Kyle Lewis, responded for the Mustangs (1-8) with a 44 yard run on their first play from scrimmage. Later in the drive, Mortensen converted on a key third down to put the Mustangs in the redzone.
“The first drive was basically just don’t go down, like have a will to stay up no matter what and just being more physical than the other team,” Mortensen said. “ [We] gotta out-physical them and make them quit.”
Freshman slotback Chuby Dunu punched in the first touchdown of the day for the Mustangs after a seven-yard run.
The speedy Mortensen gave the Mustangs a change of pace out of the backfield, providing the Mustangs with a big-play threat that has been missing from the team since losing their top two playmakers, junior quarterback Khaleel Jenkins and senior fullback Joe Protheroe.
After another Vikings touchdown, the Mustangs responded to tie the game at 14 apiece. Mohamed converted a fourth and goal for Cal Poly from the one-yard line by leaping over the pile and extending for the score.
“I definitely was trying to tell [head coach Tim Walsh] ‘Give me the ball’ because I’m gonna get in,” Mohamed said. “I just had that mentality. I knew I wasn’t going to be stopped.”
With just three minutes before halftime, the Vikings retook the lead on a fake field goal. Minutes later, the Mustangs were able to tie it up on another Dunu rushing score seconds before the end of the second quarter.
The teams continued to trade touchdowns after the break. Early in the third quarter, Mohamed plowed into the endzone for another one-yard rushing score to give the Mustangs a 28-21 lead, their first lead in a game since they played Southern Utah University almost a month ago.
The Vikings tied it up once more with six minutes to play in the third quarter on another passing touchdown. Throughout the night, Portland State had more than 425 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Neither team scored again until the fourth quarter when senior fullback Reagan Enger pounded in a touchdown run from one yard out to put the Mustangs up 35-28. Mohamed put the Mustangs in good scoring position just before the touchdown with a 34 yard run down the middle of the field.
The Mustangs’ defense stepped up in the fourth quarter and kept the Vikings out of scoring position until the final minute of the game when Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander found wide receiver Darnell Adams on a 35-yard pass down the sideline to put the Vikings inside the Mustangs’ 30-yard line.
With just 48 seconds left in the game, sophomore defensive back Mark Reza sealed the Mustangs’ first win of the season with a diving interception at the 26-yard line.
“Let’s get rid of this negative attitude and this negative thing that we’ve been living in,” Walsh said. “We needed to win at home just for those guys in the locker room. It was truly a pleasure to watch them celebrate.”
The Mustangs will try to keep their newfound momentum going Saturday at Alex G. Spanos Stadium against Sacramento State (5-4).