The Cal Poly football team, and the Mustangs fan base, have become all too familiar of falling victim to the come-from-behind wins during the past couple of seasons.
But against Division II Central Oklahoma on Saturday, it was the Mustangs who made the comeback, erasing a nine-point halftime deficit to grab a 44-25 win.
“Well I mean obviously we didn’t script it the way it turned out,” Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said. “They did a tremendous job and I have to give them a lot of credit for what they did on the offensive side of the ball.”
Very few fans could have predicted the game was going to be that close at the half. This was a Central Oklahoma team that came into its game against Cal Poly with a 1-4 record, led by a quarterback, Ethan Sharp, who had a 1-to-4 touchdown to interception ratio.
But against Cal Poly, he looked hardly the part, completing 19 of 28 passes with 202 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
“We’re just getting comfortable,” cornerback Asa Jackson said of the Cal Poly secondary. “We got a couple young guys in there and we’ve been having a lot of trouble with injuries this year. But we really settled down in the second half, everybody really settled in.”
Run Rodgers run
Running back Mark Rodgers is starting to look more and more like he’s starting to find his stride again. After rushing for 94 yards two weeks ago against Northern Illinois, Rodgers had another big game Saturday, running for 110 yards on 14 carries against the Bronchos.
“He actually promised me he was going to have 200 yards, so I am going to have to have a talk with him,” Walsh said with a chuckle. “He is always going to be a big part of who we are offensively and it’s great to get both him and Deonte (Williams) involved.”
Through the Mustangs first three games, Rodgers hadn’t though. Against San Diego State, Montana and South Dakota State combined, Rodgers ran for just 116 yards.
So after his season-high performance against the Bronchos, Rodgers might be one more step closer to being the first-team all-Great West and third-team Associated Press All-American running back that rushed for 882 yards and eight scores a year ago.
With Southern Utah running the table in the Great West in 2010, the Thuderbirds entered the year as a popular pick to win the conference again this season.
However after back-to-back losses to North and South Dakota, the conference race looks like it’s opening up. The Thunderbirds are now in an 0-2 hole in the standings after a 26-20 loss to the Fighting Sioux last week and a 24-19 loss to the Coyotes on Saturday.
“Against any of these teams, if we go out like we did in the first half (against the Bronchos) we are going to cause ourselves some serious problems,” Walsh said. “The Great West might be top-to-bottom the best conference in the United States. There are five teams and all five of us can beat each other.”
In his first game back this year after an injury, defensive end Gavin Cooper made his presence felt.
“Cooper played six plays and has one sack (for 13 yards), you tell me how valuable he is,” Walsh said. “He is a great football player, and it is great to have him back. I mean how many plays we’re going to get from him next week remains to be seen, but he is an outstanding football player.”
An outstanding football player that is much needed on the Cal Poly defensive line. Not including Cal Poly’s win against South Dakota State, where the defense had five sacks for 41 yards, the Mustangs had just one sack for 10 yards through four games before Saturday.