Cal Poly lost a 34-28 heartbreaker to No. 7 Montana State after coming back from a three touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5 inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium. 

“We played a lot of good football tonight and we need to turn that around and play that a little bit more consistent,” head coach Tim Walsh said.

The Mustangs (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky) stopped the Bobcats’ (5-1, 2-0)  first drive of the game, forcing the Bobcats to punt. After an 11:40 drive for 94 yards, redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Hamler threw a 26-yard pass to senior wide receiver J.J. Koski to put the Mustangs up 7-0. 

J.J. Koski caught a 26-yard pass for his third touchdown of the season. Diego Rivera | Mustang News

Montana State tied the game 7-7 after a 10-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Tucker Rovig to senior receiver Kevin Kassis. The Mustangs drove the ball and went for it on a fourth down. Despite their fourth down conversion, Cal Poly had to punt. Montana State rushed the ball down the field and scored a touchdown on a one-yard run by Rovig to take a 14-7 lead. 

Cal Poly received the kickoff to start the second half and looked strong after a 31-yard run by junior slot back Drew Hernandez. However, the Mustangs were unable to score after a 32-yard field goal attempt by freshman kicker Colton Theaker missed wide right. Montana State capitalized on the opportunity after senior running back Logan Jones ran four yards for another touchdown. Cal Poly ended the third quarter with momentum after a 21-yard gain from a pass to junior wide receiver Quentin Harrison.

In the fourth quarter, the Mustangs took full control and dominated the match. In the first play, Hamler threw another pass to Harrison for a gain of 31 yards and a touchdown to cut Montana State’s lead to 28-14. After the kickoff, the Bobcats were forced to punt, but only for six yards. The Mustangs made eight plays and scored another touchdown after a one-yard run by Hamler.

Carter Nichols made a clutch interception and 32 yard return to give the Mustangs life in the fourth quarter. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Montana State was only allowed three plays by Cal Poly before senior defensive back Carter Nichols intercepted a pass and returned the ball for 32 yards. Cal Poly completed the comeback when Hernandez  scored his first touchdown as a Mustang off a three-yard run to tie the game at 28-28 with 7:05 left in the quarter. Neither Cal Poly nor Montana State capitalized on opportunities to score as the Mustangs were sent to their first overtime home game since 2011.

“If we can play all four quarters like that, imagine what we can be,” Walsh said.

In overtime, Theaker missed a 48-yard field goal after an unsuccessful drive by the Mustangs. Bobcat senior wide receiver Travis Jonsen put together three rushes to score the game-winning touchdown for the 34-28 win.

“We gotta learn how to win those games,” Walsh said. “We are a good team, and Montana State is a good team. I gotta give them credit.”

The Mustangs will be on the road playing UC Davis (2-4, 1-1) at Health Stadium for the Battle of the Golden Horseshoe on Oct. 12. 

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