It looked like Cal Poly football came to play early on against Montana State after redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Huard hit redshirt junior receiver Giancarlo Woods on a wide receiver screen for a 16-yard touchdown to match the Bobcats’ earlier score.
However, that was as competitive as the game would be from there on out.
Huard played well in his first snaps back in over three weeks after suffering a concussion but struggled to stay consistent as the Mustangs lost their fourth straight to the No.2 FCS-ranked Montana State, 59-19.
The Mustangs (2-5, 0-4 Big Sky) struggled to stay consistent through all four quarters of play while the Bobcats (5-1, 3-0 Big Sky) put on a clinic for Cal Poly.
Seven of the nine drives in the first half for the Mustang offense ended in a punt with six of those seven drives being three-and-outs.
Montana State, on the other hand, put their foot on the gas early on, starting with a punt return for a touchdown to go up 7-0 only minutes into the game.
Following the 16-yard touchdown pass to Woods, the Bobcats hit right back after an eight-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Sean Chambers to go up 14-6 with 7:27 left in the first quarter.
Montana State didn’t ease up after Chambers took a read option 69 yards to the house to extend the lead to 21-6 with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
After trading punts and the Bobcats put up 10 more points, Cal Poly put together a nice drive capped off with a 41-yard strike to redshirt junior wideout Evan Burkhart for six and to cut the deficit to 31-13.
Montana State responded right away with a 17-yard touchdown pass to take a 38-13 lead into halftime.
It was more of the same from both sides in the second half, as the Bobcats, a team looking to go deep in the FCS playoffs, held Cal Poly to only six points.
Those six points came from a 23-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyrece Fairly-Diyem to bring the score to 38-19.
That’s all the points the Mustangs could muster up as the Bobcats tacked on a few more scores en route to the 59-19 final.
Huard showed flashes of success in this game as he finished with a 19-36 passing clip for 225 yards and three touchdown passes.
While the final score doesn’t show it, the defense has shown that they are much improved from a season ago. Their performance reinforced the idea that when the defense had more than a minute of game time rest in between possessions, they could get stops even against one of the top offenses in the FCS.
If Cal Poly can find a way to play complementary football, they can be good enough to win some games.
The Mustangs will continue to look for their first conference win when they host the University of Northern Colorado on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 5:02 p.m. at Mustang Memorial Field.