Cal Poly Football lost to the Southern Utah Thunderbirds 34-24 in their spring season debut and first game under head coach Beau Baldwin on Saturday, March 13 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Southern Utah (1-2) outscored Cal Poly (0-1) 31-7 through the first half, including 21 straight points in the second quarter. The Mustangs managed to hold Southern Utah to only three points in the second half but were unable to come back into the game. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hamler finished the game completing 22 of 34 passes for 272 yards, including three touchdowns and one interception. Senior wide receiver Quentin Harrison caught five balls for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mustangs won the opening toss and deferred the ball till the second half, starting the first quarter on defense. After being stuffed for negative yards on the first play of the game, the Thunderbirds scored on a 73-yard touchdown pass with 13:36 left in the first quarter of the game.
Cal Poly’s offense took over after the kickoff and started with two consecutive passes from Hamler, but the drive was ended after a failed fourth down attempt. The Mustang defense held Southern Utah on the following drive and forced the punt which was fumbled and recovered by Cal Poly to give them the ball on Southern Utah’s 32-yard line. This led to a quick drive from Cal Poly in which Hamler threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Harrison, making the score 7-7 with 7:03 left to play in the quarter.
The Thunderbirds worked their way down the field the following drive but were forced to kick the field goal after stalling out on offense, ending the quarter with the score sitting at 10-7.
Southern Utah started the second quarter holding the Cal Poly offense and marching down the field to score their second touchdown of the game on a 13-yard pass. The Thunderbirds capitalized on short field position after forcing Cal Poly to punt and scored their third touchdown of the half, making the score 24-7 with 7:29 left in the second quarter.
The Mustangs were stopped again on the following offensive drive after a second failed fourth down attempt. Southern Utah made quick work to go down the field and scored a 14-yard touchdown pass right before the end of the half, making the score 31-7.
The Mustangs began the second half on offense and quickly scored on their opening drive as Harrison completed a wild 42-yard catch between two defenders for the touchdown. With the score sitting at 31-14, the Mustangs held Southern Utah on the next drive and forced another poorly executed punt that gave the offense excellent field position near midfield to start. The Mustangs were unable to score after being stopped on their next two drives, keeping the score at 31-14 going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter began with the Mustangs completing their drive with a successful field goal attempt, making the score 31-17 with 12:06 left to play in the game. Southern Utah put together a long drive after regaining possession but had to settle for a field goal. Cal Poly finished the game with Hamler throwing his third touchdown with 1:39 left in the quarter, ending the game with the final score of 34-24.
Southern Utah finished the game outrushing Cal Poly (177-99) and averaging more yards per attempt (3.8-1.4). Though the Mustangs had more passing yards (272-238), Southern Utah ultimately had more overall yards on offense (398-319).
Cal Poly continues their season next week against rival UC Davis at UC Davis Health Stadium on Saturday, March 20 at 1:05 p.m.