Cal Poly Football won their final game of the season 28-21 over University of Northern Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 23 at Nottingham Field. The comeback victory was led by the Cal Poly defense securing three interceptions in the fourth quarter.
In the win, redshirt sophomore fullback Duy Tran-Sampson passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season, becoming just the 23rd Mustang to do so.
Cal Poly’s defense provided the first big play of the game by stopping Northern Colorado (2-10, 2-6 Big Sky) when they opted to go for a first down on 4th & 1 on their own 46-yard line. The early stand would set the trend for both defenses throughout the game.
Cal Poly (3-8, 2-6 Big Sky) followed suit and went for a conversion on a fourth down of their own, but like Northern Colorado’s attempt, it also failed.
The Bears’ offense broke through first after getting the ball through a Cal Poly fumble. Northern Colorado ripped off a 20-yard touchdown run to go up 7-0. Scoring was halted until the second quarter when Northern Colorado put up another touchdown, this time through the air on a 13-yard touchdown catch.
With a steep hill to climb, the Mustangs were dealt another tough blow when starting quarterback Jalen Hamler left the game with a hamstring injury and did not return. Kyle Reid came in for Hamler and wasted no time as he scrambled for a 19-yard run to convert a third down.
Cal Poly got on the board the following drive with a two-yard run by Reid to bring the score to 14-7 with 25 seconds left in the first half.
At the start of the half, sophomore linebacker Aaron Cooper picked up where he left off with a nine-yard sack that forced Northern Colorado to punt.
Cal Poly got the ball all the way to the Northern Colorado six-yard line, but freshman kicker Colton Theaker missed a field goal attempt as the score remained at 14-7. The Bears responded swiftly with a 46-yard pass followed by a 34-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-7.
Tran-Sampson sparked the Mustangs’ offense with a 65-yard touchdown run up the middle to draw the score to 21-14.
On the ensuing drive, junior defensive back Kevin Howell intercepted the ball and ran it back to the Northern Colorado 37-yard line. Cal Poly tied the game after Tran-Sampson ran in a goal-line touchdown run.
However, Howell wasn’t done yet. The senior followed up with his second interception of the game for a 30-yard touchdown to put the Mustangs up 28-21 with 36 seconds left in the game.
Northern Colorado needed to score to force overtime, but they did not get the chance after an interception by junior linebacker Matt Shotwell sealed the victory for Cal Poly.
The win gives Cal Poly a final record of 3-8 with two Big Sky Conference wins on the season.