The horseshoe is coming back to Cal Poly.
In the Mustangs’ first game in the Big Sky Conference, Deonte Williams rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns to help the Cal Poly football team to a 28-20 victory over the Aggies in the Battle for the Golden Horseshoe on Saturday.
“We want to do that every year,” head coach Tim Walsh said. “We want the horseshoe to stay here, and we are proud of our university and what we represent.”
It’s the first time Walsh has come out victorious over UC Davis in his four seasons at Cal Poly. The team defeated the Aggies 51-28 in 2008 under former head coach Rich Ellerson, but has dropped three straight games — including a season-ending 22-21 loss in 2010 — since.
Saturday was a different story, despite letting UC Davis rush ahead early. The Aggies converted a 39-yard field goal, and then a 67-yard touchdown on back-to-back possessions to put the Aggies ahead 10-0.
The Mustangs responded in a big way. Akaninyene Umoh scored on a 51-yard run in the first quarter, and Deonte Williams put the team ahead in the second with 5-yard rushing score to make it 14-10.
Williams kept it going in the third. He had a 55-yard carry and then followed with a 14-yard touchdown to put the Mustangs up 21-10. He did it again in the fourth, punching in a 7-yard touchdown run for his third score of the game.
“He’s on a mission,” Walsh said of Williams, who had 109 yards against San Diego and 187 yards against Wyoming. “He wants to prove that he should be the best back in this league, and he’s doing a great job of it.”
As big of a lead the Mustangs got from Williams, the Aggies rallied late. UC Davis capped a 14-play, 97-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown from Courtney Williams. The Aggies then converted a 41-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. And all of a sudden, it looked like the Mustangs would once again fall victim to an Aggies comeback.
“We knew we’ve done it before, so in the back of your mind you knew it could be done,” UC Davis wide receiver Corey Galindo said. “No one ever gave up, everyone worked ’till the last snap.”
This year, however, Cal Poly made sure the comeback didn’t happen. The Mustangs stopped UC Davis on fourth down with less than two minutes left in the game and ran out the clock to walk away with The Golden Horseshoe Trophy.
“It’s just such a big weight off our shoulders,” linebacker Kennith Jackson said. “We’ve been sitting there in their shadow for the last three years. We’ve had great seasons, we’ve had good seasons, but we couldn’t get the Davis win.
“It’s the biggest game we have every season, and I don’t think we did what we needed to do these past seasons. It’s great to come back out here and get it.”
The Mustangs will now travel to North Dakota and Weber State for back-to-back conference games with an undefeated 3-0 record, the team’s best start since 2006.
“This team can be as good as we want to be,” Jackson said. “We need to stay focused every day. We can’t be satisfied with any win. You can enjoy it for that night, but you got to be relentless in your attack and approach to the game. “