BROOKINGS, S.D. — Perhaps last week was a wake-up call.
The Cal Poly football team’s offense lacked offensive diversity in an 18-point loss at New Mexico State last week, and the Mustangs offense was shut out in the second half.
In that game, Cal Poly passed seven times as a team, completing two for 7 yards and an interception.
Addressing the issue early on in Saturday’s 44-18 loss at South Dakota State, Mustangs quarterback Chris Brown passed on Cal Poly’s first play from scrimmage, and immediately, the triple-option became more dangerous with an added dimension.
Brown completed his first five passes. After the first quarter, he was 4 for 4 for 45 yards. At the half, he’d thrown for 86 yards on 9-of-11 passing.
The passing game complemented a rushing attack that also accounted for 155 rushing yards in the first two quarters.
Brown ran for 78 yards and a 7-yard touchdown by end of the first half. Kori Garcia ran for 32 yards and a 9-yard score.
The Mustangs traveled just one kicker this week after junior Stephen Pyle was responsible for all kicking and punting duties in the loss at New Mexico State.
That decision ended up backfiring when Pyle appeared to limp off the field in the first half Saturday.
Pyle handled the opening kickoff at South Dakota State, but when Cal Poly scored a first-quarter touchdown on Brown’s scramble in the second quarter, his PAT clanged off the left upright.
When the Mustangs scored on Garcia’s run in the second quarter, Cal Poly’s offense remained on the field to go for two.
Leading 12-10 at the time, the decision was debatable, but that was before questions of Pyle’s health began to arise.
Sophomore slotback Elias Stokes came out to squib the ensuing kickoff, and senior slotback Chris Nicholls handled punts the rest of the game.
The right-side dominant Pyle was seen kicking left-footed at half time, but the former Cal Poly soccer player did not return to the game.
ZENNER GETS MVFC RECORD
Coming into the game, South Dakota State senior running back Zach Zenner needed 115 yards to set the Missouri Valley Football Conference football rushing record.
He had most of it by the half.
Zenner, the second player in FCS history with multiple 2,000-yard seasons, ran 15 times for 79 yards in the first half.
He ended up breaking the record on a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter, and finished with 193 yards in the game, including a 15-yard touchdown run.
He has 4,825 career rushing yards with 10 games left in the regular-season.
DEFENSIVE END INJURY UPDATES
Senior defensive ends Jake Irwin and Chris Judge, two projected starters, traveled to South Dakota looking to make their season debuts.
The duo stayed home last week to continue rehabbing offseason hip surgeries. In spot duty, each was credited with a single tackle.
Washington State transfer Logan Mayes made his first career start opposite second-time starter Josh Letuligasenoa, a sophomore.
Mayes had a pair of stops, and Letuligasenoa ended up with four tackles, including a sack and forced fumble.