Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said that sophomore quarterback Andre Broadous was going to be a game-time decision for Saturday’s 22-21 win over North Dakota.
Walsh said he would watch Broadous, who injured his throwing shoulder on the Mustangs’ last play from scrimmage in the 20-7 loss at Southern Utah last week, warm up before the game and would rely on Broadous to evaluate whether he was physically able to play.
For the first time since being named the starter four weeks ago, Broadous did not play, and senior Tony Smith led the team to a touchdown, capped by his own 4-yard run, on the first drive of the game.
Whenever the decision about Broadous was made, it was well before game time.
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When Broadous came out with the team for the pregame routine, he was in street clothes and did not attempt a throw.
First-drive fourth downs
Playing in his first game since Cal Poly pulled off a 35-33 upset over Montana on Sept. 11, Smith looked determined to score on the Mustangs’ opening drive Saturday, and Walsh was eager to make it happen, too.
Walsh approved two fourth-down attempts that kept the chains moving.
The first was a fourth-and-1 at the North Dakota 43-yard line. After the Mustangs had already rushed for 35 yards on six attempts, David Mahr picked up the first down on a 3-yard run.
The second fourth-down conversion was a little more risky.
After Smith was dropped for a loss of 2 yards, Cal Poly faced a fourth-and-4 at the 22-yard line. Instead of bringing out Jake West for what would have been a 37-yard field goal attempt, Smith hit Dominique Johnson for an 8-yard completion.
Four plays later, Smith was diving into the end zone on an option keeper.
The Mustangs improved to 50 percent on the season on fourth-down conversions after those two.
Defense starts stingy
At the half, Cal Poly had outgained the Fighting Sioux 227-73, but that statistic might have said more about the Mustangs’ defense than their offense.
North Dakota went three-and-out on its first three possessions and went more than 23 minutes without picking up a first down.
Defensive end Gavin Cooper picked up a sack, defensive tackle Erich Klemme had a pass breakup and linebackers Marty Mohamed, Kenny Jackson and Greg Francis were all in on tackles for loss.
The Fighting Sioux had just one big play in the first half, and Cal Poly’s defensive dominance was not displayed on the scoreboard partly because that one play was a 43-yard, play-action touchdown pass from North Dakota quarterback Jake Landry to receiver Greg Hardin, who was virtually uncovered on the play and ran into the end zone untouched.
The Mustangs also missed out on points in the first half when Jake West hooked a 43-yard field goal attempt left, when West later missed a PAT and when Smith threw an interception at the North Dakota 29-yard line with 26 seconds left in the second quarter. Cal Poly led 13-7 at halftime.