LARAMIE, Wyo — Sharing the backfield last year with All-American fullback Jake Romanelli, speedy slotback Mark Rodgers and running quarterback Andre Broadous, Deonte Williams had a modest debut with the Cal Poly football team.
The former transfer had 385 yards and five touchdowns in his junior season after averaging nearly 1,000 rushing yards in two seasons split between Northern Arizona and Sierra College, a junior college in Rocklin.
His longest run as a junior at Cal Poly went for 20 yards, a mark he eclipsed by 1 yard in this year’s season opener against San Diego two weeks ago.
Early in Saturday’s 24-22 victory over Wyoming, Williams proved he has plenty more burst than he’s been able to show in his previous games with the Mustangs.
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Williams scored on a 65-yard touchdown run that gave Cal Poly a 7-0 lead on the opening drive for his longest rush as a Mustang. It was longer than any carry he had at Sierra, and even smashed the 58-yard best he had as a true freshman and Big Sky Newcomer of the Year at Northern Arizona.
Then Williams burst free for a 74-yard run on the next drive. That one, however, fell short of a touchdown. In the thin air at 7,220 feet above sea level, he was caught from behind at the 5, but it did set up Cal Poly’s second score as the Mustangs took a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
“I came to the sideline when I was coming out,” Williams said, “and I was like, ‘Boy, that’s a long way to sideline.’ I was so out of breath.”
Asked if he’d have been caught from behind if the game was in San Luis Obispo’s robust atmosphere, Williams said: “No, definitely not. I’m in the end zone, celebrating with Musty.”
The Ivory Zone
If Kristaan Ivory keeps up his red-zone work, it might be due for a name change.
After opening the season with a 2-yard touchdown run in a 41-14 victory over San Diego, Ivory added two more scores Saturday — a 9-yard run for Cal Poly’s second score in the first quarter and a 5-yard touchdown catch that allowed the Mustangs to take the lead for good in the third quarter.
Ivory finished with five carries for 28 yards and the one reception. With two touchdowns on six touches, opponents have to begin to wonder if he’s Cal Poly’s red-zone weapon.
“Right now, it seems like it, but I’m just ready to go in whenever I can,” Ivory said. “Whenever ’Te, the senior running back, when he needs a break, I’m ready to go in. But I love the red zone role. I’ll take it. Scoring touchdowns, I love it.”
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound back from Los Angeles Cathedral High also played last season as a true freshman, showing he had the ability to be considered a top recruit.
For him, the team’s victory over an FBS program held a special significance.
“For a lot of us on the team, a lot of FBS teams passed on us,” Ivory said. “They don’t want us. They say we’re too small, too slow, and we showed that we can come out and compete. You can’t measure heart. That’s what recruiters can’t measure, and we had the biggest heart today.”
Few and far between
Broadous came into the game with only one interception in 254 collegiate passing attempts.
Running Cal Poly’s option offense, he hasn’t been asked to throw very often, but he had also been very efficient when he did pass.
After Wyoming took a 15-14 lead in the second quarter and stole all the momentum afforded by Cal Poly’s early touchdowns, the Mustangs became desperate for a score.
With 56 seconds left on a drive that started at the 30-yard line, Broadous attempted three passes to try and jumpstart the offense.
The first play resulted in a 9-yard sack. The second was ruled an intentional grounding. The third was intercepted by DeAndre Jones with 12 seconds left on second-and-16 from the Cal Poly 40.
Broadous finished 6-of-11 passing for 31 yards and a touchdown. He now has two interceptions in 266 career attempts.