Ian Pearman/Courtesy Photo

The Cal Poly football team lost Saturday afternoon 22-15 to Weber State for its second straight conference loss.

The Mustangs (6-4, 4-3 Big Sky) had a chance to remain in the top three in conference with a win against the Wildcats (6-4, 5-2). With this loss, the Mustangs have a slim chance of making it to the FCS tournament.

Weber State scored 15 unanswered points to open the game as quarterback Jadrian Clark threw a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter. Cal Poly’s special teams unit blocked both extra point attempts to keep it a two-score game with just under six minutes left in the first half.

Junior fullback Joe Protheroe scored a touchdown with 38 seconds left in the second quarter to finally put the Mustangs on the board and cut the deficit to eight points heading in to halftime.

In the second half, the Mustang offense churned out a 16-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game. Senior slotback DJ Peluso scored on 19-yard touchdown run to cap off the drive before running in a two-point conversion to force a tie with seven minutes left in the third quarter. However, the Wildcats responded in the fourth quarter with a 13-play, 58-yard drive to score what would be the decisive touchdown with nine minutes left in the game.

The Mustangs were driving up the field on the ensuing possession but senior quarterback Dano Graves threw an interception to thwart any chances of scoring. Weber State couldn’t capitalize on the mistake and missed a 33-yard field goal, giving the Mustangs another chance with two and a half minutes left.

Facing fourth and seven from the Wildcats’ 31 yard line, Graves’ pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver J.J. Koski was batted down for an incompletion that sealed the win for Weber State. The Wildcats kneeled to run out the remaining 39 seconds in the game, sending the Mustangs out of Ogden, Utah with their first consecutive loss since October 2015.

Though Cal Poly has one of the country’s best offenses in yards per game, the Mustangs found little success offensively and totaled only 291 yards. The Wildcats’ defense held Protheroe to just 65 yards on 18 carries and senior slotback Kori Garcia to 57 yards on 14 carries. Cal Poly’s 190 net yards on the ground were the fewest in any game this season.

On the defensive side, the Mustangs did well to limit the Wildcats to 295 total yards and just 28:08 time of possession. Graves’ interception and fumble played a huge part in keeping the Mustangs from notching another road win.

With this loss, the Mustangs fall to fourth in the Big Sky conference behind North Dakota, Eastern Washington and Weber State. Cal Poly would need all three to lose in addition to getting a win at home against Northern Colorado to have a chance at making the FCS tournament.

Saturday’s home game against Northern Colorado (6-4, 4-3) will be the final game in what has been a surprisingly successful season for the Mustangs. Kickoff is at 6:05 p.m. at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

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