Photo by Ian Billings. 
Photo by Ian Billings. 

Stephan Teodosescu

Andre Broadous stood on the sidelines watching as the Cal Poly football team suffered one of its most demoralizing defeats in program history.

A 2008 opening round loss to Weber State in the program’s first-ever home playoff game proved to be a crushing defeat for a record-breaking team that year.

That Mustangs team had one of the most productive offenses in the country throughout the regular season, but five turnovers against the Wildcats cost Cal Poly a spot in the second round.

That Mustangs team was the last to make it to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, as no team has seen postseason play since. And little did they know, that season and that loss would catalyze a record-breaking career for the then-redshirt freshman quarterback Broadous.

He remembers the emotions of having his team knocked out in the early stages of the FCS playoffs — something he desperately doesn’t want to repeat.

“I’m sitting there watching that game, and I know all those guys worked hard,” Broadous said. “Those guys worked hard to get where they were at and for it to just go away like that at home I know it hurt them. But, it was a learning experience and it’s something that I didn’t want to happen to me.”

Broadous, now a senior starter for the Mustangs, heads into this weekend’s second round playoff game against No. 5 Sam Houston State ready to avenge that loss with an upset win in Texas. In fact, he’s using the memory of that game and encouragement from former teammates to prove that this year’s squad has what it takes to overcome any playoff-game jitters.

“There’s definitely a little bit more motivation just to make sure it doesn’t happen twice,” Broadous said. “I was really close with those guys (from the 2008 team) and I still keep in contact with them. They’re wishing us the best of luck and hopefully we can get this win and make those guys proud.”

The Portland native has come a long way from taking snaps with the practice squad as a freshman back in those days. He’s become the undisputed starter under center since his junior year in 2011.

But 2010 is when Broadous first made a splash on the FCS football scene, rushing for 89 yards and a touchdown in his first career start against then-ranked No. 19 McNeese State. He went on to start three more games in his sophomore campaign, including one at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)-level opponent Fresno State.

Last season, his junior year, Broadous broke a school record by rushing for 18 touchdowns and helped lead the Mustangs to a 6-5 mark and a Great West Conference championship.

This season, the 6-foot quarterback’s stats have proved even more impressive.

He’s thrown for 1,262 yards and 18 scores on top of posting a nine-touchdown figure on the ground. He’s led Cal Poly to a 9-2 record overall, a 7-1 mark in the team’s first year in the Big Sky Conference and its first playoff berth since that 2008 loss to Weber State.

All in all, Broadous is No. 8 all-time in Cal Poly history with 3,007 career passing yards and has thrown for 31 touchdowns and rushed for 30 more in his time on the Central Coast. But the fact that Broadous is simply playing football in San Luis Obispo has his coaches thankful for his contributions.

“We have a guy who we want at the position of quarterback,” head coach Tim Walsh said. “We couldn’t find a better player at that position.”

They’re thankful because Broadous’ career at Cal Poly almost didn’t exist. The three-sport high school athlete was heavily recruited by his hometown program Portland State, as well as FBS program Oregon State coming into college.

But a promise by the former Cal Poly coaching staff prior to the 2008 season ensured that he’d be the only player that the school would spend out-of-state tuition on. That commitment showed Broadous Cal Poly’s faith in the young signal caller.

“That showed me they really wanted me to be here and I really connected with the players and the coaches,” Broadous said.

As for this season with the Mustangs, with the emergence of senior running back Deonte Williams, Broadous hasn’t seen the volume of carries that he did in years past, but he’s made his opportunities both on the ground and in the passing game count, according to Walsh.

“We would probably like for him to have a few more carries, to be honest with you,” Walsh said. “He’s a good runner when he has the ball. He hasn’t had the yards he had a year ago or the touchdowns, but he’s been really efficient. The other thing is (Big Sky) coaches have said that Andre Broadous throwing the football is dangerous too.”

For Cal Poly running backs coach Aristotle Thompson, Broadous brings a competitive nature to the field that allows for his unmatched dual-threat abilities.

“I really think he’s a field general, he has to command the ship,” Thompson said. “He makes sure the guys are in the right spot doing the right things and he’s always a threat to go the distance at any given time.”

He should know considering the two go back to their days at Grant High School in Portland.

Thompson, related to Broadous through marriage, was also an assistant coach at Grant in Broadous’ sophomore and junior years of high school. He had the unique opportunity of watching the elite prep school-level football player mature into a top FCS quarterback.

“To me, to see the things that he’s done in his time at Cal Poly is not a surprise at all,” Thompson said.

But there is one thing Broadous hasn’t done: Start in a playoff game.

And come Saturday, he’ll have an opportunity to do that facing a stingy Sam Houston State defense, one that is ranked among the best in the country in total yards allowed.

“This is the best team we’ve played so far,” Broadous said. “Speed-wise, they’re real fast all around. With all that team speed we have to make sure we execute. I’m real excited about this game. I’ve been waiting for this for a while, and for it to come in my senior season it couldn’t get any better.”

With that he’ll have the burden of expectations resting on his shoulders. The burden of not only performing in what may prove to be his final game as a collegiate football player, but of a team that had the chance to win it all in 2008, but couldn’t.

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