SAN MARCOS, Texas — Coming into Saturday night’s game at Texas State, No. 17 Cal Poly had not won a game on the road under head coach Tim Walsh.
The Mustangs were winless in their past six games away from Alex G. Spanos Stadium and didn’t have an easy task against the Bobcats. Texas State was hungry for a benchmark win and had history on its side — two consecutive victories over Cal Poly at Bobcat Stadium.
A slow start on offense, mixed myriad mistakes and several big plays by the Bobcats made sure the Mustangs wouldn’t snap either skid. Cal Poly only scored three points in the first half and fell 21-12.
“It’s unfortunate that we had opportunities early in the game and didn’t take advantage of any of them,” Walsh said.
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The Mustangs (2-1) had two golden opportunities to pounce on Texas State (2-1) early in the game but failed to capitalize.
Cal Poly’s first break came on a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage by junior Erich Klemme that was picked off by senior linebacker Marty Mohamed. The turnover, which came on the Bobcats’ first pass, gave the Mustangs the ball at the 33-yard line.
Despite the great field position, Cal Poly only moved the ball 5 yards before true freshman kicker James Langford pushed a 42-yard field goal attempt wide left.
After Karrington Bush put Texas State up 7-0 with a 37-yard touchdown run through the heart of the Mustangs defense three plays later, Cal Poly had its next opportunity.
Junior Mark Rodgers brought the ensuing kickoff back 65 yards to the Bobcats’ 20-yard line but yet again, the Mustangs settled for a field goal — which senior Jake West hit from 32 yards out.
“To have such great field position and only come away with three points,” Walsh said, “is unacceptable.”
The Mustangs made adjustments at halftime and looked like the team many expected to come into San Marcos after knocking off then-No. 1 Montana a week earlier.
Cal Poly rushed for 93 yards on 17 carries in the third quarter and put its team on the back of senior fullback Jordan Yocum. Yocum, who finished with a career-high 145 yards, bulled his way for 60 yards in the period and set up both scores by the Mustangs (a 33-yard field goal by West and a 1-yard run by quarterback Doug Shumway).
Whatever good Cal Poly did on offense, its overaggressive behavior made it pay on defense.
The Mustangs allowed several long runs — including Dexter Imade’s second touchdown run of the night, a 37-yard scamper with 13:01 remaining in the fourth quarter — and committed four critical penalties (all 15-yard personal fouls).
“Giving up big plays on defense, committing penalties all of the way around and poor execution in the first half take away any positive of this game,” Walsh said. “We’re not going to come out here and be better athletes than anyone we play. We just need to outplay people, and we didn’t outplay anybody tonight.”
If there is any consolation for Cal Poly, it has four more opportunities to fix things on the road before returning home Oct. 23 against North Dakota.