Cal Poly football took down Idaho State 32-29 thanks to a game-winning field goal on Saturday, Nov. 13 inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Cal Poly (2-8, 1-6 Big Sky) snapped an eight-game losing streak with the win as they jumped Idaho State (1-9, 1-6 Big Sky) in the Big Sky conference standings.
Neither team found offensive success early, as both sides ended their first possessions with punts.
After the rust was shaken off, both teams turned their offense up a notch. The next Bengal possession went for ten plays, eight of which were rushing plays, and brought them to the Cal Poly two-yard line. However, the Mustang defense made a stop and forced a field goal attempt. The attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the game scoreless.
Cal Poly took advantage of the missed field goal, as they marched down the field on the following possession. The drive was highlighted by a 60-yard rush by freshman quarterback Jaden Jones on fourth down. The run put the Mustangs in the red zone and redshirt sophomore quarterback Spencer Brasch found redshirt senior receiver Michael Roth for a touchdown to take the 7-0 lead.
The Bengals responded quickly, capping off a 75-yard drive with a 21-yard passing touchdown to even the score at 7-7 going into the second quarter.
The next drive for Cal Poly included five plays of 10 yards or more, two muffed snaps that resulted in negative yards and a 100% conversion rate on third down (3-3). The up-and-down drive ended when Brasch found redshirt junior wide receiver Xavier Moore on a third down and goal from the five yard line for a touchdown to retake the lead at 14-7.
Following a series of penalties against the Mustang defense on the next drive, Idaho State evened up the score yet again with a rushing touchdown to make it 14-14.
Neither team broke the tie before heading into the halftime locker room.
Both offenses came out of the break struggling, as there were a series of punts by both sides before the first scoring opportunity.
With 6:32 remaining in the third quarter, Idaho State started a drive with the ball at their own 11-yard line. After two run plays, the Bengals looked to pass on third down. Looking for his receiver downfield, the Idaho State quarterback lobbed a pass in the middle of the field that was intercepted by redshirt senior linebacker Matt Shotwell. Shotwell took the interception 22 yards into the endzone for a Mustang touchdown.
This was Shotwell’s fourth career interception and first career touchdown as a Mustang. Cal Poly missed the PAT, but still had the lead at 20-14.
“It’s just a testament to our team,” Shotwell said about the team’s toughness. “I think that we practice insanely hard no matter what, week in and week out. We just get to grow on this, and get one more week together and then it’s up to the new group to carry it on, so it’s fun.”
After an unsuccessful drive resulting in a punt by the Bengals, the Mustang offense took over. Brasch had two completions of more than 20 yards to set up a 2-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 26-14.
“Defense had a lot of good stops, so we got the ball a lot more than we had before,” Brasch said. “So defense having a great game leads to the offense having a great game, and then go from there.”
The Mustang defense continued to find success, as redshirt junior defensive back Dylan Wyatt recorded his first collegiate interception to stop a long Idaho State drive.
Wyatt was downed on the Cal Poly one yard line, giving the offense poor field position. The Mustangs were only able to move the ball three yards before they had to punt it back and give the Bengals great field possession.
On the first play of the drive, Idaho State recorded a rushing touchdown to cut the deficit to 26-21.
Looking for some insurance, Cal Poly began their drive. The Mustangs converted a fourth down on the drive, but settled for a 36-yard field goal to extend their lead to 29-21.
On the next drive the Bengals found themselves on the Cal Poly 8-yard line with just under 2:00 remaining after a few big passing plays.
Idaho State went to tight end Jared Scott for a jump ball in the back of the endzone. Scott made a leaping grab and got one foot down, securing the touchdown. The Bengals then converted the two point conversion to tie the game at 29-29.
Cal Poly’s offense took the field with 0:58 remaining, eyeing a one-minute drill. The Mustangs attempted three passes, but only completed one, and were forced to punt. However, the punt hit the head of an Idaho State player, meaning the ball was live, and a Mustang was in the area to recover it.
Cal Poly took over at the Idaho State 34-yard line. After a few plays, the Mustangs trotted out freshman kicker Jaden Ohlsen with 11 seconds remaining. Ohlsen lined up for a 41-yard kick and split the uprights to take the lead 32-29.
“For the last kick I was going out there and I was fully confident,” Ohlsen said. “I knew I was going to make it. The team fought so hard throughout the whole entire game. So I knew that was my job just to give them the win.”
The Bengals attempted a final play of the game, but were not successful, leading to a Mustang win 32-39.
“It felt really good to see them earn the win, and you know they earned it during the week,” head coach Beau Baldwin said. “It was pretty special to watch them attack a week, nine weeks into the year when you’re struggling, you’ve lost eight straight, and see what their attitude and body language was during the week. It was impressive. That says more about a group of guys than when you’re 6-2 or something.”
Brasch led the Mustang offense on a night where they only saw the field for 23:37, compared to the Bengals offense who had possession for 36:23. Brasch attempted a season high 50 passes, completing 25 of them for 233 yards and three touchdowns.
Cal Poly will look to build on the win in their final game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 20 against Northern Arizona University at 5:05 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.