Cal Poly football was dominated by No. 3 ranked Montana State by a score of 72-28 to extend their losing streak to eight on Saturday, Nov. 12 inside Mustang Memorial Field presented by Dignity Health.
The Mustang (1-9, 0-7 Big Sky) defense was unable to contain the Bobcats’ (9-1, 7-0 Big Sky) explosive offense, as they put up 51 points in the first half.
After an unsuccessful Cal Poly opening drive, Montana State struck first with a 47-yard field goal to put them up 3-0 early on.
The Mustangs still couldn’t get much going, while the Bobcats’ next drive started out with a 49-yard run from sophomore running back Elijah Elliott to put Montana State in the red zone.
The drive ended with a 12-yard pitch to sophomore Marqui Johnson for the touchdown to make it 10-0 with 5:27 left in the first quarter.
The Mustangs began to drive down the field on their next drive before redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Brasch threw an interception that was returned 25 yards to midfield.
The Bobcats then drove down the field after the turnover with junior tight end Derryk Snell running it in to increase the lead to 17-0 with 2:28 left in the quarter.
After a Mustang three-and-out, Montana State scored a 71-yard touchdown to further increase their lead to 24-0.
Cal Poly started the second quarter with the ball and introduced a little trickery into the mix. Brasch threw a screen to graduate wide receiver Chris Coleman and Coleman threw the ball across the field back to Brasch for a gain of 34 yards.
“We actually just practiced [the trick play] this week, and I’m proud of how the guys executed,” head coach Beau Baldwin said postgame.
The Mustangs capped off that drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman tight end Josh Cuevas to bring the score to 24-7 with 13:44 left in the half.
After a Bobcat field goal and a Mustang turnover on downs, Montana State put more points on the board after a 36-yard touchdown run by Johnson to extend the lead to 34-7.
Cal Poly’s next drive started off promising after freshman running back Troy Fletcher broke off a 19-yard run, but that momentum was squandered after Brasch lost the football on a sack and a Bobcat recovered and returned the ball 26 yards for a touchdown to make it 41-7 with 8:05 left in the half.
After an unsuccessful Mustang drive, Johnson broke off a 78-yard rushing touchdown for his third touchdown of the half and brought the lead to 48-7.
Cal Poly responded on their next drive with a 34-yard touchdown to Cuevas for his second of the game and cut the lead to 48-14.
“I wanted to focus on the little details to elevate my game,” Cuevas said about his approach leading up to the matchup.
Montana State marched down the field to Cal Poly’s goal line but couldn’t get the ball in the endzone, so they settled for a field goal to bring the score to 51-14 to close the half.
Montana State picked up right where they left off to open the second half by putting together a seven-play, 73-yard touchdown drive ending with a seven-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Aidan Garrigan to make the score 58-14.
Cal Poly responded on the very next drive with the help of Cuevas and a one-yard rushing touchdown from Fletcher to cut the lead to 58-21 with 10:18 left in the third.
The Bobcats wasted no time, and after a 53-yard catch and run, sophomore running back Garrett Coon put them on the board once again with a seven-yard rushing touchdown to put the Bobcats up 65-21.
The Mustangs bounced back on the next drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Zedakiah Centers to bring the score to 65-28 with 3:17 left in the third quarter.
Montana State officially put the game out of reach after an extensive 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that went into the fourth quarter and ended in a 27-yard touchdown to make it 72-28.
Coach Baldwin cited the lack of detail for the first-half offensive struggles.
“If we can get to a level where we’re more detailed, we’re gonna create more opportunities to score,” Baldwin said.
Cal Poly allowed a whopping 582 rushing yards to the Bobcats, who had a total of 772 yards of offense en route to the victory.
The Mustangs will look to win their first conference game of the year in their final game of the season next week against Portland State on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 5:02 p.m. inside Mustang Memorial Field.