After a two-year hiatus, the Golden Horseshoe is coming back to San Luis Obispo.
In defense of its “Faceless except for Davis” season motto, the Cal Poly football team racked up 674 total yards in its 55-38 victory against UC Davis on Saturday. The win marked the Mustangs’ (4-6, 3-4 Big Sky) first victory over the Aggies (1-9, 1-6) since 2013.
Senior quarterback Chris Brown led the way for the Mustangs as he passed, caught and ran for a touchdown for the second time in his career. Brown threw for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns while tacking on 160 rushing yards and one 30-yard touchdown reception thrown by junior running back Kori Garcia.
The late afternoon matchup between the two rivals started quickly with 35 points scored in the first quarter. Both teams raced out to a 14-14 tie, but the Mustangs led 21-14 at the end of the first quarter. The Mustangs’ first three touchdowns all came on long plays: A 56-yard pass from Brown to senior wide receiver Willie Tucker, a 47-yard run by Garcia and the 30-yard pass from Garcia to Brown.
The Mustangs scored two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter — one by Brown and the other by freshman running back Malcolm Davis — to go into halftime with a 34-14 lead.
Coming out of halftime, the momentum shifted.
UC Davis scored the first touchdown of the half, but the Mustangs fired right back on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Tucker. That’s when things began to change.
With the Mustangs up 41-21 midway through the third quarter, the Aggies began to claw back. From the end of the third quarter through the beginning of the fourth, the Aggies rattled off a 17-0 scoring run that put them down 41-38 with 14 minutes remaining in the game.
With the Aggies charging, it was the Mustangs’ time to regroup.
Two long, sustained drives by the Mustangs ended in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Tucker and 19-yard touchdown run by junior running back DJ Peluso.
With 2:45 remaining in the game, the Mustangs were up 55-38. Neither team scored again, resulting in the Mustangs escaping a tough battle in Davis for the Golden Horseshoe.
Brown’s 153 passing yards and three passing touchdowns were both season highs for the Mustangs. Tucker’s 126 receiving yards and three touchdowns were his season highs as well.
As a team, the Mustangs — the FCS rushing leaders at 410.2 yards per game — ran for 491 yards. Brown led the way with 160 rushing yards on 17 attempts. Peluso added in 77 rushing yards and sophomore fullback Joe Protheroe pitched in 75 rushing yards of his own.
Defensively, senior linebacker Tu’Uta Inoke led the way for the Mustangs with 10 tackles, including one tackle for loss. Senior linebacker Burton de Koning tacked on eight tackles.
The Mustangs finish their season at home next weekend against North Dakota. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.