Cal Poly football conceded their third loss in a row to Northern Arizona University by the score of 31-29 on Saturday, Oct. 8 inside J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome.
The Mustangs (1-4, 0-2 Big Sky) remained winless in conference play after NAU’s (2-4, 1-2 Big Sky) kicker, Collin Robbins, drilled a 40-yard field goal with 1:27 to take the 31-29 lead.
It went back and forth through the first half, with both sides scoring three touchdowns.
Redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Brasch and the Mustang offense opened up the game with a 75-yard touchdown drive that was capped off by a seven-yard touchdown run by sophomore Adam Garwood. Cal Poly attempted a two-point conversion but failed.
The Lumberjacks responded to the Mustangs’ opening drive score with a quick two-minute, 75-yard touchdown drive of their own, taking the lead at 7-6. They then marched 90 yards on the following possession to extend the lead 14-6.
It wasn’t until 10:15 left in the second quarter that Cal Poly answered with a touchdown of their own. Brasch went 4-for-4 for 64-yards on the drive, including the 17-yard touchdown strike to graduate wideout Chris Coleman in the back corner of the endzone.
On the day, Coleman racked up 112 receiving yards on five receptions.
After a series of punts from each team, Cal Poly regained the lead at 20-14 when Brasch hit redshirt freshman tight end Josh Cuevas over the middle for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:59 to play in the first half.
That was just enough time for the Lumberjacks to march 90 yards and seize the lead right back 21-20, with quarterback RJ Martinez sneaking it in from one yard out.
NAU kept the momentum out of the break, scoring a touchdown with their first possession of the second half. Martinez hit wide receiver Hendrix Johnson with a deep, arching pass down the left sideline for a 73-yard touchdown.
Just like that, the Mustangs were down eight without touching the ball.
After being unable to move the ball all half, Cal Poly closed the gap to 28-26 on a 31-yard pass over the middle from Brasch to Cuevas with 7:16 left in the game. Brasch’s two-point conversion pass attempt fell incomplete.
The Mustangs got the break they needed when NAU’s running back, Isaiah Gerena, fumbled on their 35-yard line. They capitalized on the break with Ohlsen’s 27-yarder splitting the uprights, delivering the 29-28 lead.
However, one of the themes all season long has been that when head coach Beau Baldwin needs to lean on his defense, they have not been able to come through.
57 yards and 2:51 later, NAU drilled the 40-yard field goal to ice the game at 31-29 after marching down the field with little pushback from the Mustangs.
In his second start back under center this season, Brasch went 29 of 51 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. Garwood ended his best game as a Mustang with 86 yards on 17 rushes and a touchdown.
The first-half struggles have been a detriment for the Mustangs all year, as they have been outscored 80-21 in their first four games this season in the first half and have been unable to climb themselves out of holes.
However, Saturday was different. They retook the lead and were a defensive stop away from the win, yet they still could not get that one stop.
Cal Poly will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 12:05 p.m. as they road to play Idaho State inside Holt Arena.