DAVIS — Though the Cal Poly football team had plenty to point to after Saturday’s 24-17 loss to UC Davis, failed fourth-down conversions helped keep potential points off the scoreboard.
The Mustangs (5-4, 3-1 Great West Conference) had two first-half situations where they could have utilized kicker James Langford, who connected on a 26-yard field goal on the opening drive.
Facing fourth-and-7 from the Aggies 22-yard line — and having converted two short-yardage fourth downs already on the drive — head coach Tim Walsh chose to keep the touchdown hopes alive.
Trailing 7-3, quarterback Andre Broadous was sacked for an 8-yard loss. The result of the play was similar to a second-quarter drive that ended on fourth-and-goal at the 3-yard line.
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Cal Poly was already trailing 21-3 late in the second quarter when Broadous was sacked for a 7-yard loss to end that threat.
Fourth down-conversions have not been rare for the Mustangs this season. Having attempted 20 coming into the game, they were converting them at a 70 percent rate.
“This year, I think we made a living of finishing fourth-down drives,” Walsh said, “and today, we weren’t good on fourth down.”
At six for nine, Cal Poly converted more often than not, including on some fourth-and-long situations, but the most impactful ones eluded the Mustangs.
JACKSON BOOSTS RETURN GAME
Cal Poly senior cornerback Asa Jackson looked like he might have come back from a broken foot too soon last week, when he started the game but soon limped off the field with what appeared to be an aggravation of the injury.
Jackson started again Saturday and looked like he might have been limited by the foot when he slipped and missed an open-field tackle on a 29-yard touchdown run by Colton Silveria that gave the Aggies a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
But Jackson roared right back in the return game.
Following the Silveria touchdown, Jackson checked in as a returner for the first time since he broke his foot taking the second-half kickoff against Southern Utah three weeks ago.
Jackson returned the ball 49 yards to set the Mustangs up with ideal field position at the UC Davis 33-yard line. On the next Aggies kickoff, Jackson took it 34 yards, and UC Davis elected to start squibbing the ball to blocker Nick Dzubnar rather than kick it deep to Jackson.
Though he did rack up four tackles, the Aggies similarly avoided throwing in Jackson’s direction, too.
A DEFERRANT RESULT
An aspect of the game many people overlook might have been an ominous sign for Cal Poly.
Even though the Mustangs had lost one pregame coin flip this season coming into Saturday’s loss, Cal Poly had only ever kicked off to start a game.
Every time the Mustangs won a toss, they deferred. Saturday, UC Davis won the flip, chose to defer, and Cal Poly was forced to receive the ball.
Coincidence or not, the Mustangs went on to arguably play their sloppiest game of the season.