FRESNO — When Andre Broadous took the snap, only five yards separated him from the end zone. Just seconds later, it was about 40, and that wasn’t the end of it.
The Cal Poly football team was going for it on fourth down, hoping to score the touchdown that would have cut Fresno State’s fourth-quarter lead to just seven in a game the Mustangs went on to lose 38-17 on Saturday.
When Cal Poly (3-2) was in desperate need of something positive, it got its most exciting play of the night from its sophomore quarterback. It just wasn’t enough to blemish the Bulldogs’ perfect 8-0 record against Football Championship Subdivision opposition under 14th-year head coach Pat Hill.
Facing an almost immediate pass rush from Fresno State defensive tackle Logan Harrell, who had already racked up a couple of sacks and finished with a team-high 11 tackles, Broadous made a series of dodges while running back toward midfield, narrowly escaping the clutches of Harrell and others.
“In high school I kind of did some stuff like that,” said Broadous, who finished with a team-high 82 rushing yards on 25 attempts in only his second college start. “It’s dangerous, but it was fourth down and we were down two touchdowns. So, it was do or die. You just try to make something happen.”
The play was officially recorded as such: “Andre Broadous rush for loss of 1 yard,” and to say that account was lacking detail would have been the understatement of the evening.
By the time Broadous was ready to start moving in the right direction again, he had juked himself close to the Fresno State 40-yard line. He got enough separation from defenders to sprint up the left side of the field, where he needed one more man to beat before he had a clean shot at the end zone.
That man was Bulldogs middle linebacker Ben Jacobs, a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection and four-year starter. That’s when the 1-yard loss part happened.
Broadous nearly made the play that would have cut the deficit to one score, and it’s what coaches were hoping he would do when making the decision to give its most mobile quarterback the green light these past two weeks behind a patchwork offensive line hit hard by injuries.
Even though they somewhat expected Broadous to take a chance or two with his legs, however, nothing really prepares anyone to see his quarterback 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage during a play.
“He’s got to watch it,” Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said. “That was a little bit over the top, I think.
“He must have ran 75 or 80 yards, but that’s Andre. That’s going to happen once in a while. It’s not what I really like to see happen, but just think if he would have made one more guy miss, we would have all be jumping up and down saying what a tremendous athlete he is.”
As it was, Fresno State took over at its own 6 and followed up a 12-play, 98-yard drive with a 13-play, 94-yard effort to go ahead by the final margin on a 9-yard run by Robbie Rouse.
The Broadous play was the pivot between keeping a competitive score and upset hopes intact and what has since been described as an easy Bulldogs victory.
Broadous was stopped on fourth down on Cal Poly’s next possession — though on a much more straightforward 1-yard run on fourth-and-6 — and Fresno State drove another 47 yards to the Mustangs 16 before kneeling down to end the game.
“He’s courageous, I’ll tell you that much,” Walsh said.