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The Cal Poly football team opened its season with a 28-10 loss at New Mexico State on Thursday.
The Mustangs kept it close in the first half — closing out the first two quarters down by just four — but were shut out in the second. Despite amassing 259 yards on the ground and averaging more yards per play than the Aggies, Cal Poly was not able to reach the end zone more than once.
Junior quarterback Chris Brown rushed for 66 yards on 17 carries, but a fumble and an interception — which both led to Aggie touchdowns — proved to be insurmountable.
“I think when you play in these games, especially against FBS schools, you can’t turn the ball over,” said Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh. “That’s our thing on offense. That’s not who we are. Defensively, if we do turn it over, you can’t let it result in touchdowns, and they resulted in touchdowns.”
The Mustangs’ ground game was aided by sophomore slotback Kori Garcia, who carried the ball 11 times for 84 yards, boasting an impressive 7.6 yards-per-carry average. Senior slotback Chris Nicholls added 67 yards on only eight carries.
The lone Cal Poly touchdown was punched in by senior fullback Brandon Howe, who also added 24 yards on eight carries.
Senior linebacker Nick Dzubnar anchored the Mustang’s defense, recording a team-high 12 tackles. Junior cornerback Chris Fletcher tallied his first career interception in the third quarter.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Brown was replaced by junior quarterback Dano Graves. Brown and Graves had been competing for the starting position throughout the offseason, and it seems as though the position could be up for grabs once again. Both Brown and Graves went 1-of-3 in the air, gaining two and four yards, respectively.
Cal Poly will return to action Sept. 6, when it travels to face fellow FCS competitor South Dakota State. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. PDT.