Cal Poly’s early hope of upsetting No. 10 UC Davis was quickly dashed when Jake Maier and the Aggies’ high-powered offense found its rhythm Saturday night.
The junior quarterback threw for 200 yards and five touchdowns in leading UC Davis to a 52-10 win against the Mustangs in a Big Sky Conference football game at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
The first-place Aggies erased a first-quarter deficit by scoring 52 unanswered points, improving to 6-1 overall and 4-0 against conference opponents.
Cal Poly fell to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the Big Sky despite a nearly perfect start to the game.
“Right now, the better team definitely won,” head coach Tim Walsh said. “And we’ve got a long way to go to catch up, and we’ll get back to work.”
It was no surprise that Maier, one of the most prolific passers in the FCS this season, proved to be the difference maker during a 31-point second quarter.
Entering Saturday’s contest, Maier ranked third in the nation in passing yards per game (326.7) and fifth in total passing yards (1,960).
He was held well below his average, but threw five touchdown passes for the second straight week to ensure the Golden Horseshoe trophy will reside in Davis for another year.
“His 200 yards were extremely effective,” Walsh said. “That guy is a winner.”
Protheroe keeps climbing
The Mustangs, coming off a bye week, couldn’t have drawn up a better start.
Senior fullback Joe Protheroe’s 35-yard touchdown run and a 41-yard field goal off the foot of Alex Vega staked Cal Poly to a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Mustangs forced UC Davis to go three-and-out on its first three possessions, but there was little to celebrate the rest of the way.
“Obviously, we played a pretty good first quarter,” Walsh said. “We played a horrible second, third and fourth quarter. They made plays, we made none from that point on.”
The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Protheroe — the Big Sky rushing leader at more than 130 yards per game — quietly etched his name deeper into the Cal Poly record books.
Protheroe moved up to No. 4 on the Mustangs’ all-time rushing list with 3,396 yards for his career, surpassing former standout Louis Jackson.
Protheroe rushed for 147 yards and one touchdown against the Aggies, marking his fifth straight 100-yard game and the 19th of his career.
Coming up next
Cal Poly will be on the road for its next two games, traveling to Northern Arizona on Oct. 27 and Montana State on Nov. 3.
The Mustangs are scheduled to close out the regular season with back-to-back home games, beginning against Idaho State on Nov. 10.
A season-high 8,503 spectators showed up for Saturday’s game.
“It’s on us. There’s no other way to say it,” Walsh said. “We have to take ownership of how we played tonight and we have to get better.”