Another close game for Cal Poly Football ended in a 30-26 defeat against University of North Dakota on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The Fighting Hawks’ victory came after a second half surge that ended with a 39-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alex Cloyd in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter.

This is the third loss in a row for Cal Poly (2-5, 1-3 Big Sky) after falling to Montana State and UC Davis the past two weekends.

“It’s tough man, you know, being in all these tight games and not being able to pull it off, it’s hard,” senior wide receiver J.J. Koski said. “We’re going to keep a relentless mindset though … we’re going to strap it up this whole week and get back to work.”

Junior cornerback Jaylen Morgan (2) enters Spanos Stadium for Cal Poly’s game against University of North Dakota on Oct. 20. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News
Junior cornerback Jaylen Morgan (2) enters Spanos Stadium for Cal Poly’s game against University of North Dakota on Oct. 20. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Cal Poly led in the first three quarters after the first points of the game came from a 25-yard field goal by freshman kicker Colton Theaker. North Dakota (4-3) responded in the second quarter with a touchdown from running back James Johannesson to momentarily take the lead 7-3.

However, Cal Poly surged ahead with a 5-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Hamler. The touchdown was followed by another successful field goal by Theaker after the Mustang defense held the Fighting Hawks from scoring. A touchdown by junior wide receiver Quentin Harrison put the Mustangs ahead 17-7 at the end of the quarter.

The Mustangs remained ahead in the third quarter and produced a 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore fullback Duy Tran-Sampson after a 38-yard drive on eight plays. University of North Dakota responded with a 75-yard drive for a touchdown of their own to cut the deficit to 23-21. 

In the fourth quarter, the Fighting Hawks regained the lead with a 23-yard field goal from kicker Brady Leach after the Mustangs managed a stop on fourth down. Theaker capped off the Mustang’s next scoring drive with a 42-yard field goal to bring the score to 26-24. The field goal was Theaker’s second-longest of his career.

With 1 minute and 49 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, University of North Dakota tight end Alex Cloyd received a 39-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nate Ketteringham to take the final lead at 30-26. Cal Poly was held to a gain of just nine yards and failed to capture a first down on 4th and 2 as the match came to a close.

Sophomore fullback Duy Tran-Sampson takes a heavy hit from the Fighting Hawks’ defense during the Mustangs’ defeat on Oct. 19. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News
Sophomore fullback Duy Tran-Sampson takes a heavy hit from the Fighting Hawks’ defense during the Mustangs’ defeat on Oct. 19. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

“Everybody’s going to point the finger at that particular 4th and 2 play, but there’s other plays that led up to them having the opportunity to create that play,” Walsh said.

Trans-Sampson produced a career-high of 40 carries and 173 yards in the defeat and nearly broke the program record for most carries in a single game, which was set at 43 carries by recent graduate Joe Protheroe. 

Walsh praised his team for their resilience despite the tough stretch of losses.

“I love our guys,” Walsh said. “Our guys came back this week after a tough loss, they came back last week, two weeks ago from tough losses … the difference tonight was that [North Dakota] made less mistakes than we made.” 

The Mustangs will return to Spanos Stadium to take on Sacramento State on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 5 p.m.

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