In Saturday’s 42-14 win over Portland State, the Cal Poly football team had a 21-0 lead at the half, but even though the Mustangs were doing all the scoring, it also came against long odds.
When Cal Poly started at its own 34-yard line after returning the opening kickoff, that was the best field position the Mustangs would have all half as the Vikings dominated the field-position battle.
Cal Poly had one drive start at its own 2-yard line and another at its own 3. Cal Poly had an average starting field position of its own 16-yard line in the first half.
Conversely, Portland State started two of its drives in Mustangs territory, one at the Cal Poly 39-yard line and another at the Mustangs’ 43.
But when the Vikings had a first-and-goal at the Cal Poly 7-yard line late in the first quarter, the Mustangs defense stood strong.
Cal Poly stopped Portland State from its own 2-yard line on third and fourth down to maintain the shutout. Senior defensive tackle Chris Lawrence and junior linebacker Tu’uta Inoke stopped Vikings running back Shaquille Richard for a 1-yard loss on fourth down to complete the stand.
IT’S ALL THE WAY LIVE
After introducing plans to unveil the school’s first live Mustang mascot during a men’s soccer match with UC Santa Barbara last year, Cal Poly’s horse with no name made its Alex G. Spanos Stadium debut Saturday.
Unsaddled and led onto the field by a companion horse, the mustang, which was donated by alumnus Robin Baggett — the namesake of Cal Poly’s baseball stadium—and his wife, Michelle, galloped out of an inflatable tunnel to lead the team onto the field.
It made its way across the field and out the stadium gate without incident and even triumphantly returned at the half for a ceremony honoring the Baggetts.
The Vikings got close, but were unable to score in the first half, and it was the first time the Cal Poly defense was able to keep a team off the scoreboard in the first two quarters since the last time the Mustangs blanked a team altogether.
Cal Poly shut out Weber State 20-0 in the first half Oct. 12 last season en route to a 47-0 victory.
BATTING DOWN THE PASSES
Senior defensive end Jake Irwin made his first start of the season after missing most of the first two games while he recovered from offseason hip surgery.
The former Wisconsin transfer made an immediate impact on the Portland State passing game, but not by sacking the Vikings quarterbacks.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Irwin batted down two passes at the line, one in the first half and another early in the third quarter.
FRESHMEN ON THE FIELD
Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh had been talking about getting freshmen running backs Lance Mudd and Joe Protheroe more opportunities on offense the past few weeks.
It didn’t take long Saturday for him to follow through on that idea.
In the first half, Mudd, a true freshman slotback, carried three times for 8 yards. Protheroe, a grayshirt freshman, had two rushes for 5 yards.