In Saturday’s 27-24 win over visiting South Dakota, Cal Poly only had one drive worth mentioning in the first half, but there were two water-cooler fumble calls.
The first ended the Mustangs’ best shot of scoring in the first half, and the second denied them a chance to sneak in a score and some momentum before the break.
With the Coyotes leading 17-0, Cal Poly took over on its own 26-yard line with 6:36 left in the second quarter. After totaling only one first down to that point, the Mustangs rolled up three first downs on runs by Andre Broadous and Jake Romanelli and passes from Broadous to Romanelli and Deonte Williams.
But on second-and-7 from the South Dakota 39-yard line, Broadous was hit by Coyotes defensive end Tyler Starr while attempting a pass. The ball blooped a couple yards forward, but it was difficult to determine whether the quarterback lost the ball before or after his arm began to swing forward.
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The officials ruled the play a sack and fumble on the field, and South Dakota recovered the ball.
Moments later, Coyotes quarterback Dante Warren was scrambling away from pressure before eventually being brought down by Cal Poly nose guard Erich Klemme.
Warren appeared to fumble the ball and replays confirmed the ball was loose before Warren’s knee was down, but after Mustangs players came out of the pile with the ball, officials ruled Warren down by contact.
Cal Poly could have had the ball near the South Dakota 35-yard line with less than two minutes left, but the Coyotes kept possession and eventually punted.
Slow start for the Mustangs
On 11 plays in the first quarter, Cal Poly gained only 26 yards and converted only one first down.
The Mustangs went three-and-out three times as the offense sputtered without slotback Mark Rodgers, who missed the game after suffering a third-degree shoulder separation in the first half of last week’s victory at North Dakota.
Deonte Williams replaced Rodgers in the starting lineup and ran three times for 2 yards in the first quarter. Williams’ slow start on the ground mirrored Cal Poly’s anemic passing game.
Broadous was 1-of-2 passing in the opening quarter, hitting Williams for 5 yards on the lone completion.
With the offense averaging only 2.4 yards per play, the defense could only hold up for so long. South Dakota racked up 102 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter, and the Mustangs were fortunate to be trailing 3-0 after a stop inside the 10-yard line forced a 22-yard field goal by Coyotes kicker Kevin Robb with 2:38 left in the first.
Jackson makes the start
Senior Asa Jackson started the game at left cornerback after missing all of last week’s game after not traveling with the team to North Dakota.
Jackson suffered a broken bone in his foot returning the opening kick of the second half the prior week against Southern Utah and had not practiced since until late this week.
Jackson looked like his usual self in the first quarter, making a couple of tackles and closing fast on a screen to his side of the field to make a stop for a 4-yard loss. After a while, however, Jackson appeared to be limping slightly, and with 11:18 left in the second quarter, the All-America candidate called for medical attention from the sideline and limped off the field.