The No. 9 Cal Poly football team continued its winning streak by pounding No. 12 North Dakota State 37-6 on Saturday night at Mustang Stadium.
The Mustangs improve to 5-1 overall and remained perfect in the Great West Conference at 3-0. The Bison fell to 4-2 overall.
Cal Poly’s first home game since the school year began brought out 6,923 fans to the currently under renovation Mustang Stadium.
“I thought it was cool for everyone to come out and show them what Cal Poly football was all about,” senior defensive end Chris Gocong said.
Freshman James Noble started the Mustangs’ initial drive with a 32-yard run on the first play of the game. Cal Poly capped its opening drive with a 39-yard field goal from junior Nick Coromelas four minutes into the game.
Noble finished with 161 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries.
On the defensive side, Gocong continued to carve up opposing offenses, recording his 11.5 sack of the season. The play went for a 13-yard Bison loss during North Dakota’s opening drive. Freshman wide receiver Tredale Tolver returned the Bison’s punt for 37 yards setting up Coromelas’ second field goal to put Cal Poly up 6-0.
North Dakota threatened to retaliate late in the first quarter off a series of runs by junior halfback Kyle Steffes. However, the Bison’s first attempt at scoring was unsuccessful as freshman wide receiver Ramses Barden blocked kicker Cory Vartanian’s field goal.
Cal Poly’s first touchdown came less than a minute into the second quarter when senior quarterback Anthony Garnett threw a deep pass to Tolver who sped past the Bison coverage. Coromelas converted the extra point to put the Mustangs up 13-0.
The Mustangs scored again midway through the second quarter off a 16-yard touchdown strike from Garnett to Barden.
Late in the second half, Garnett and Barden hooked up on back-to-back plays to put Cal Poly within 20 yards of the goal. Garnett hit senior fullback Adam George on an easy rollout pass for the Mustangs’ third touchdown of the game.
The Mustangs were up 27-0 at halftime and well on their way to destroying one of the nation’s top teams.
“We just had to take advantage of a few of their mistakes,” Garnett said about the Bison defense. “They bit on a couple of plays, but other than that, they played hard and brought it. They were probably more concerned with the run, which is what we do a lot.”
Despite the margin, the stadium remained packed for the second half.
“Fans are a big part of our game,” Garnett said. “We feed off the fans big time, they’re great.”
Steffes coughed up the football on the Bison’s opening play, setting up yet another Mustang field goal.
The Bison finally penetrated the Mustangs’ stingy defense in the middle of the third quarter when Steffes capped a drive with a 2-yard touchdown carry.
The Mustang defense – led by Gocong, linebacker Kyle Shotwell and cornerback Cordel Webb – was all over North Dakota State, holding it to under 200 yards of total offense.
“The defense is stepping up, doing it game in and game out,” Garnett said. “(The offense is) finally doing it without the defense. We got all the points ourselves this game without the defense scoring. We feed off the defense.”
With under five minutes left in the game, Noble snuck through the middle of the Bison defense then broke free for his fifth touchdown of the season.
Garnett threw for 166 yards and three touchdowns on 11 completions in 16 attempts.
Walker completed nine of 18 passes for 89 yards. Steffes rushed for 93 yards and one touchdown on 23 runs.