The Cal Poly football roster features a tight end for the first time in years, and the Mustangs finally got around to using one in Saturday’s 42-7 win over Sacramento State.
Junior college transfer Austin Albison hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Cal Poly quarterback Chris Brown that gave the Mustangs a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
On 1st-and-10 from the 14-yard line, Brown faked a run and rolled to the right to hit Albison heading to the corner of the end zone.
It was the first catch by a Mustangs tight end this season, Albison’s first career catch with Cal Poly and the first touchdown catch by a Mustangs tight end in at least 13 seasons, according to a Cal Poly spokesman.
Since moving to the double-wing triple-option in 2007 under then-head coach Rich Ellerson, the Mustangs have not had a tight end.
Current Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh continued the tradition when he took over in 2009 and continued to run the rushing-based offense.
A 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior, Albison joined the team after a two-year junior college career, although most of his experience came at another position.
Albison was a prep quarterback at Exeter High and played under center during his first collegiate season, passing for 826 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions as a freshman for College of the Sequoias.
As a sophomore at San Diego Mesa, Albison was the backup quarterback, but he also caught 20 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns as a tight end.
Hubbard return sets tone
Cal Poly safety Alex Hubbard wears many hats on the field, also serving as a kick and punt returner and place-kick holder.
The senior started Saturday’s game off right, taking the opening kickoff 76 yards to the Sacramento State 22-yard line and setting up the Mustangs’ first score, a 16-yard catch by Cole Stanford on a forward option pitch from Brown.
It was the longest return of the season for Hubbard, who came into the game averaging just 2.4 yards per punt return with a long of 18.
Hubbard had returned nine kicks this season, second on the team to Chris Nicholls’ 12, and his previous long went 49 yards, also the previous team long.
Pioneer Valley product Leyden shines
With Cal Poly’s depth at defensive line thinning with injuries and the suspension of Wesley Flowers, former Pioneer Valley High standout Nick Leyden has made the most of his opportunities.
Coming into the game with 22 tackles and a sack, the fifth-year senior came up big in the first half Saturday.
Leyden sacked Hornets quarterback Garrett Safron twice and came up with a tackle that stopped Sacramento State on third-and-short.
Only fellow fifth-year senior and defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz has more sacks, coming into the game with 61⁄2.
Brown run comes back
In the final three minutes of the first half, Brown took an option keeper around the right side, and navigated several blocking lanes to eventually cut back for a 39-yard gain to the Hornets’ 20-yard line.
But the play was helped out by an illegal chop block by the offensive line, and instead of a trip to the red zone with a 21-7 lead, Cal Poly ended up 10 yards back from the original line of scrimmage and the drive stalled moments later, taking away a terrific opportunity to add points before the half.