When it came down to it, it didn’t take last season’s starting quarterback — Tony Smith — to fuel the Mustangs past the No. 1 team in the nation. It didn’t even take Andre Broadous — one of the most heralded recruits the Mustangs have had in recent years — to fuel the Cal Poly Mustangs to only their second win in history over the Montana Grizzlies.
No, it took Doug Shumway — a redshirt sophomore who looked to be the third string quarterback heading into this season, backing Smith and Broadous — playing in his first ever regular season game to fuel the Mustangs (2-0) past the Grizzlies (1-1), 35-33, Saturday night in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
The win was a lot to take in, Shumway said.
“It’s so much excitement right now I am just kind of trying to come back from such a high,” Shumway said. “It was such a huge momentum swing; just everything about beating the number one team in the country. It’s hard to come down from, I am trying to come back to reality right now.”
Shumway came into the game in the third quarter, replacing starter Tony Smith who was forced to leave the game with an injury, with Montana leading the Mustangs 20-14.
“I kind of knew that if something were to happen that I’d be the guy to step up,” Shumway said. “I have been preparing all week, just trying to get ready, just in case I got called out. I was ready for it.”
Indeed he was.
His first play from scrimmage was a hand off to running back David Mahr, for a 10-yard rush. His second was another to Jake Romanelli, for a two-yard gain.
Then on second and eight, for his third play from scrimmage — ever in the regular season — Shumway unloaded an 83-yard touchdown pass to Mahr, to put the Mustangs up 21-20 over Montana.
“We knew that they were running their safeties at the option so we knew at some point in the game there was going to be a shot that we were going to be able to take and we needed to capitalize on it,” Shumway said. “Mahr ran right by him, we got the exact look we were looking for, got it off in time and that was it.”
In one play, Shumway nearly tied Smith’s numbers for passing yardage this season and tied his numbers for touchdowns, but that wasn’t the end of his highlights. After defensive back Scottie Cordier picked off an Andrew Selle pass and brought it back 45 yards for the touchdown, Shumway connected on a 25-yard strike to Dominique Johnson in the corner of the end zone, to give his team the 35-27 advantage.
“I knew we had just a one-on-one matchup and we got (Johnson) — who is one of the best players in the country — and I knew if I could put it in a good spot he was going to make a play,” Shumway said. “That’s all I wanted to do. Let your playmaker make a play, it’s hard to miss with him.”
In nearly one half, Shumway had become a football hero, but that didn’t mean the top-ranked team in the nation was ready to throw in the towel. The Grizzlies defense stripped Shumway at the Cal Poly 30 yard line and punched it in five plays later with a Justin Roper 19-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Sam Gratton.
With the score 35-33, the Grizzlies went for a two-point conversion, but Roper threw too high to his receiver running across the back of the end zone.
The Grizzlies got the ball back — pinned at the two yard line by a Chris Pinto punt — with 1:06 left in the game and no time outs and tried to drive up field to win the game. Marty Mohamed — who racked up a career-best 15 tackles — then sealed the win with an interception on the Grizzlies 26-yard line.
“I was just waiting for someone to step up and make a play,” Shumway said. “We were just waiting for it to happen and then Marty ended up with the pick to win it.”
Shumway finished his first extensive career playing time with a perfect 3-3 through the air, passing for 128 yards with two scores, and gained 22 yards rushing off nine carries.
“Doug is one of those players — he will take the big hit and he will pop right back up and he is ready to go,” Mahr said. “He is a very good leader.”
Although Shumway stole all the spotlight Saturday night, he said he gives credit to Smith — as well as the coaching staff — who helped him with some of the looks the defense was giving him.
“We knew there were opportunities that they were giving us, we just needed to capitalize on them,” Shumway said. “(Our opportunity) finally came and it happened to be when I was in the game.”
After tonight, a third quarterback can now be added to the passing game debacle, as head coach Tim Walsh said Smith, Broadous and now Shumway may all see extensive playing time at some points this season.
“Someday Shumway, that’s his nickname. We knew someday he was going to get his opportunity and (he) took advantage of it,” Walsh said. “It’s possible that all three of them could be playing at certain points of times the rest of the year and we have a lot of confidence in all three of them.”
Walsh said he did not plan to play Broadous against the Grizzlies because he did not he feel he was 100 percent recovered from an injury sustained in practice and he did not give a prognosis on Smith’s injury, or injuries, for next week’s game against Texas State. The senior did finish the game 6-12 for 50 yards, while rushing for 40 — 26 coming on a touchdown run on the Mustangs’ first possession — before he was benched though.
In his limited playing time, Walsh said he was pleased with the way Smith played. And as for the win, he was pleased with that as well.
“It’s going to be up there for me, I’m sure it’s up there for our players and it might be up there for Cal Poly,” Walsh said. “It might have been one of the best wins we’ve had. Tremendous football game against a tremendous football team and program.”