“Someday Shumway”— that’s the name Cal Poly backup quarterback Doug Shumway has earned with the Mustangs.
A sophomore who started training camp with the third-string unit, Shumway’s been earning praise from Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh since Walsh took over the program a year-and-a-half ago. It just hasn’t resulted in any meaningful playing time.
But Saturday was someday, and Shumway stepped in for injured starter Tony Smith to help lead the unranked Mustangs to a 35-33 upset victory over No. 1 Montana in front of 8,027 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
“We knew someday he was going to get his opportunity,” Walsh said, “and Doug took advantage of it.”
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A second-half replacement for Smith, who appeared to suffer a reprise of the head injury that took him out of the fourth quarter of last week’s Cal Poly victory over Humboldt State, Shumway made his first pass an 83-yard touchdown to running back David Mahr.
It was the longest pass play by the Mustangs since Ramses Barden scored on an 85-yarder from Jonathan Dally against Idaho State in 2007.
And Shumway didn’t stop there. Including a 25-yard touchdown pass on a fade route to senior receiver Dominique Johnson, he finished a perfect 3 of 3 for 128 yards and two touchdowns and added 22 yards rushing.
His two touchdown passes helped stake Cal Poly (2-0) to a 35-20 lead with 10:40 left in the fourth quarter. But the victory wouldn’t have been complete without several huge defensive plays by the Mustangs.
In less than five minutes, quarterback Justin Roper led the Grizzlies (1-1) to back-to-back touchdown-scoring drives that cut the lead to two.
“We came out firing,” Shumway said. “We got a couple big plays, and the momentum was just so far on our side. Then it started to shift a little bit, and we started looking at the clock, hoping it was running out, hoping we could get the ball back to ice it.
“We needed someone to step up and make a play.”
Cal Poly got what it needed in the form of a quarterback sack, strip and fumble recovery by Kyle Murphy, a punt by Chris Pinto that dribbled all the way to the Montana 2-yard line and a game-sealing interception by senior linebacker Marty Mohamed.
Murphy’s sack came after a quick three-and-out gave the Grizzlies the ball back at their own 28-yard line with 3:16 left in the game.
The junior transfer from Santa Rosa Junior College picked up the last of Cal Poly’s three sacks, knocking the ball from Roper’s grip while the former Oregon transfer was in mid-throw.
Murphy jumped on the loose ball, which stood as a fumble, and the Mustangs were able to run off another 49 seconds.
When Pinto’s punt finally settled with 1:06 left, there was just too much turf and too little time for Montana to move the ball effectively downfield.
Mohamed, who had a career- and game-high 15 tackles, hauled in his first-career interception when he picked off Roper at the Montana 39-yard line with four seconds left in the game.
Shumway iced it with a kneel down.
“Coach told me going into the game to just be ready,” Shumway said. “I try to practice every week like I’m going to be the guy, even though I know I might not be. I went out there and did what I’ve been doing in practice for a long time.”
Shumway got the call over second-stringer Andre Broadous, who Walsh said was still bothered by the ankle sprain he suffered in the preseason scrimmage.
Smith opened the scoring with a 26-yard touchdown run, sprung by a devastating block by Mustangs receiver Eric Gardley on the outside, but with about nine minutes left in the second quarter, Smith took a hard hit to the head on an option run that knocked his helmet off.
Walsh said offensive coordinator Bryan Cook looked to replace Smith after the hit, but Walsh wanted to see if he could recover.
“We’re not sure that we should have left him in after the first big hit that he had,” Walsh said. “He wanted to stay in the game, but I’m not sure if he was right.”
After further evaluation by the Cal Poly medical staff, Walsh took Smith out midway through the third quarter, but he still had an affect on the outcome.
It was Smith who recommended the play-action pass that freed Mahr open up the seam for the 83-yard touchdown, and Smith was the first player congratulating Shumway after the play.
“The quarterbacks, we spend a lot of time together, and its very competitive between us,” Shumway said, “but we’re still friends. When Tony’s doing good or when Dre’s doing good, we’re all the first ones to congratulate. Tony’s a great player and a great guy. It means a lot to get a big high five from him.”