Through seven games in the 2023 season, the Mustangs haven’t been able to get the run game going. The team ranks last in yards per carry, rushing touchdowns and have accumulated the second fewest total yards in the conference across the year.
But after defeating the North Colorado Bears 24-17 at Mustang Memorial Field on October 21, it appears that the Mustangs (3-5, 1-4 Big Sky) have put their offensive struggles behind them.
The Mustangs claimed their first Big Sky Conference matchup of the year and put up a season-high in total yards with 508. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Huard also hit the history books, completing 31 passes, which placed Huard second in single-game completions in a single game in Cal Poly football history.
But the run game also was in a rhythm and was crucial for the team’s success. The Mustangs generated a total of 177 rushing yards, averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry and had three running backs rush for over 50 yards.
Redshirt senior Mark Biggins led the running back unit with 77 yard total yards along with 5.1 yards per carry and a touchdown where in the celebration he flipped the ball over the horizontal bar of the field goal post like he was going for a layup in basketball.
Running backs freshman Kendric Sanders and redshirt freshman Paul Holyfield Jr. complimented their leadback’s strong performance with Sanders accounting for 56 rushing yards and Holyfield accounting for 55 rushing yards.
The success of the run game ultimately allowed offensive coordinator Sheldon Cross to open up the passing game for the Mustangs. The result was Huard’s historic amount of completions for and 333 yards, two passing touchdowns and a season-high 79% completion rate.
Huard did throw two interceptions. The first interception bounced off the hands of redshirt senior receiver Bryson Allen before a defender scooped it up. The second came when he underthrew a receiver and a defender came down with the jump ball.
But even with the two interceptions, the offense kept rolling, and the team responded to adversity by running off the last 8:12 remaining in the game to hold onto the win.
“I felt like this was the best game we had,” Biggins said.
With the win over the Bears, the Mustangs won their first Big West conference matchup of the year. The victory improves the team’s overall record to 3-5 and gives the Mustangs a winning record in home games at 3-2.
The Mustangs have a bye week next week before playing their three remaining games. Two of their three remaining games will be on the road; an area the team has struggled immensely. The Mustangs are 0-3 in away games.
After a week to regroup and prepare, the Mustangs will take a trip up to Cheney, Washington to take on Eastern Washington on November 4 at 1 p.m. Eastern Washington will enter the conference matchup with a 2-1 record at home.