Right down to the prototypical gloomy Pacific Northwest weather, the Portland State invasion of Cal Poly’s Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Saturday was everything the grudge-match nature of the game could have suggested.
From back-and-forth slugfest-style scoring drives to an uptick in Portland-themed trash talk, the Mustangs football team’s 37-25 victory over the Vikings spotlighted the player who had the most incentive to win, one of many key characters in a rose-colored drama.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Andre Broadous — a Portland native and former Oregon state high school player of the year — accounted for four touchdowns, including a go-ahead 11-yard touchdown pass and a game-clinching 1-yard run in the fourth quarter for the No. 14 Mustangs (7-0, 5-0 Big Sky Conference).
Those two scores came after Broadous angrily stomped off the field following a Bobby Zalud field goal, his third of the game, on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line that cut Portland State’s lead to 25-23 with 4:01 left in the third quarter.
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“He was ticked off that we kicked that field goal to go 25-23,” said Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh, who was facing a program he coached for 14 years for the first time in Mustangs’ attire. “I said, ‘Alright, the ball is going to be in your hands to win this game.’ And he looked me in the eyes, and he goes, ‘Give me the ball. I’ll throw it. I’ll do whatever. You tell me what.’ And he will. That’s the type of guy that we have playing quarterback. He is going to will a win, and he willed it tonight.”
Broadous was 8-of-11 passing for 117 yards and two touchdowns, the 11-yarder to Willie Tucker and a 48-yarder to Cole Stanford—who finished with a team high 79 yards on two catches.
Broadous also ran a season-high 22 times for 73 yards and two scores, the1-yarder and a 13-yard scramble that made it 14-14 late in the first quarter.
With the victory, Cal Poly is one of just two undefeated teams in the FCS. Lehigh beat Bucknell 42-19 to improve to 8-0. Tennessee State (7-1) and Harvard (5-1) each lost its first game of the season.
The Mustangs have now started 7-0 for the third time in their Division I history, the previous time coming in 2004. Cal Poly also started 7-0 in 1997 under first-year coach Larry Welsh. The program lost game No. 8 in each of the previous seasons.
A victory at Sacramento State would give Cal Poly its first 8-0 start in Division I history. The program has only been 9-0 one other time, when the 1953 team finished unbeaten and untied with that exact record.
All of that made the victory significant from a historical perspective, but for Broadous and the Mustangs coaching staff, which also features three former Portland State standouts and a former Portland high school record-breaking running back, the bragging rights were also important.
Playing against his hometown team for the first and only time, Broadous called it a mandatory win.
“Walsh is probably going to see them over and over,” Broadous said, “but this was my one and only chance. I got one chance at them, and I got them.”
That fact wasn’t lost on the other players, either.
“We really played our butts off for them,” said senior running back Deonte Williams, who rushed for a game-high 169 yards on a career-high 27 carries. “We wanted to make sure they got this win. I knew it was big for them. I don’t know if they might say it, but it was definitely big for them. I’m just happy we pulled out the W.”
They also pulled it out in familiar fashion. Cal Poly has faced deficits in five of its seven victories, and each time, the Mustangs won with impressive third-quarter rallies.
Portland State got a 35-yard touchdown pass from Kieran McDonagh to Justin Monahan, the second scoring hookup between the two in the game, to take a 25-20 lead with 9:04 left in the fourth quarter.
Then the Mustangs scored 17 unanswered points to take their eighth straight victory dating back to last season. One more ties the records set by the 1953 team.
“This year, our offense has a lot of confidence, and we know that we can score fast, and we know that we can score in spurts,” Broadous said. “We’ve been down in a few games, but we always found a way to respond. … We know that we have the weapons that can score at any time in the game.”
How the FCS Top 15 fared
How the top 15 teams in the Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision poll fared this week:
1. Eastern Washington (6-1) def. Sacramento State 31-28. Next: at Southern Utah.
2. James Madison (5-2) lost to Richmond 35-29. Next: vs. Georgia State.
3. Georgia Southern (6-1) def. Furman 38-17. Next: at Chattanooga
4. North Dakota State (6-1) def. South Dakota 54-0. Next: vs. Southern Illinois.
5. Montana State (6-1) did not play. Next: vs. North Dakota.
6. Sam Houston State (5-2) def. McNeese State 45-10. Next: at Lamar
7. Old Dominion (6-1) def. No. 18 Towson 31-20. Next: at No. 25 Delaware
8. Wofford (6-1) def. No. 13 Appalachian State 38-28. Next: vs. The Citadel
9. Lehigh (8-0) def. Bucknell 42-19. Next: at Holy Cross, Nov. 3.
10. Stony Brook (7-1) def. Gardner Webb 41-10. Next: at Presbyterian
11. Illinois State (6-2) lost to Missouri State 24-17. Next: at Northern Iowa.
12. New Hampshire (6-2) def. Maine 28-21. Next: at Rhode Island
13. Appalachian State (5-3) lost to No. 8 Wofford 38-28. Next: at Western Carolina
14. Cal Poly (7-0) def. Portland State 37-25. Next at Sacramento State.
15. Youngstown State (4-3) lost to Southern Illinois 38-21. Next: at No. 20 South Dakota State.