Cal Poly football fell to UC Davis 31-13 in the Battle of the Golden Horseshoe. Credit: Annabelle Fagans

Cal Poly football was without their starting quarterback redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Huard in the team’s 31-13 loss to No. 21 UC Davis in the Battle of the Golden Horseshoe. 

Huard suffered a concussion the week prior and is still in concussion protocol. 

Instead of Huard, it was redshirt freshman quarterback Bo Kelly in his first career start mixed in with redshirt sophomore quarterback Jaden Jones.

“We tried to get Jaden going coming off of last year’s injury, but he’s not one-hundred percent yet,” head coach Paul Wulff said.

In the battle for the Golden Horseshoe, the Mustangs (2-3, 0-2 Big Sky) struggled to get much production on offense as they were outgained 430-211 in total yards on top of multiple costly penalties while the Aggies (3-2, 1-1 Big Sky) took an early lead and never looked back.

The Cal Poly defense turned out to be a silver lining, considering they were on the field for most of the first half and only allowed seven points in the second half.

“We just gotta bring the juice early. Swing first, swing fast and hype each other up,” redshirt junior cornerback Xavier Oliphant said.

The Mustangs looked to score early on after they recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff but the offense stalled and turned the ball over on downs which set up a five-yard touchdown run from UC Davis to go up 7-0.

The offensive struggles continued on the next drive as the Aggies capitalized on a Cal Poly turnover with a field goal to extend their lead to 10-0.

Following a Mustang punt, the Aggie offense ended up at the goal line with the help of a penalty that set up another touchdown to allow UC Davis to go up 17-0 early in the second quarter.

The Aggies took advantage of yet another Mustang punt and drove down the field to go up 24-0 with 9:10 left in the half.

After trading possessions, the Cal Poly offense finally put together a drive capped off with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to redshirt junior receiver Evan Burkhart to cut the deficit down to 24-7 heading into halftime.

The next score didn’t come until midway through the third quarter when the Aggies found a wide-open receiver in the corner of the endzone to extend their lead to 31-7.

Both offenses would stall the rest of the way until the fourth quarter when the offense punched it in with a two-yard rushing touchdown from redshirt freshman Troy Fletcher, but it was too little too late as UC Davis cruised the rest of the way to the 31-13 victory and retained the Golden Horseshoe.

“We gotta help [the defense] out better,” Kelly said. “If we play the way we played in the second half in the first half we’ll be really good.”

Kelly finished the day with a 19-for-37 passing clip with 191 passing yards and one passing touchdown, with redshirt junior wideout Giancarlo Woods leading on the receiving front with seven receptions for 64 yards. 

“We gotta grow up, and sometimes we don’t show maturity on the football field,” Wulff said. “Sometimes you have to go through the wars and battles in order to grow.”

The Mustangs will now look toward another tough matchup when they take on the No. 4 FCS-ranked University of Idaho on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 5:02 p.m. at Mustang Memorial Field.