When the Cal Poly football team looks back on the 2015 season, the Mustangs likely will lament a series of turnovers that proved costly time and again.
Facing an opportunistic North Dakota team in the season finale Saturday night at Alex G. Spanos Stadium, Cal Poly lost two fumbles in the first half, both leading directly to touchdowns for the Fighting Hawks.
Playing for an important seventh victory to keep its playoff chances alive, North Dakota took advantage of the Mustang miscues en route to a 45-21 victory.
“The one thing we do tell our players is we can’t hold onto the ball for you,” head coach Tim Walsh said. “Even tonight, if we held onto the ball better, it might have been a different game.”
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After the second fumble, UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud connected with Clive Georges on a 64-yard touchdown pass. That score put Cal Poly in a 21-0 deficit with the better part of three quarters left to play, and there would be no dramatic comeback.
Tight end Enger starts at fullback
Sophomore tight end Reagan Enger made his first start of the season, lining up at fullback behind Chris Brown on the first play of the game. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Enger started in place of regular starter sophomore Joe Protheroe, who has been hampered by injuries during the second half of the season.
Protheoe had three 100-yard performances in the first four games of the season. But a string of injuries forced the Concord native to miss two game’s and he’s reached the 100-yard mark only once in the final seven games of the season.
With reserve fullback Jared Mohamed not dressed out for Saturday’s season finale, Enger made the most of his extended playing time, contributing 35 yards rushing on a career-high 13 carries.
Jackson gets back on the stat sheet
Fifth-year senior wide receiver Roland Jackson Jr. pulled in a 61-yard touchdown pass from Chris Brown in the third quarter. Limited by injuries early in the season, Jackson tallied his first reception since Cal Poly’s Sept. 19 loss to Northern Iowa.
Jackson caught three passes for a team-high 87 yards and also returned four kickoffs for 115 yards in the final game of his career. Fellow senior Willie Tucker caught four passes for 68 yards, and junior running back Kori Garcia added three receptions for 41 more yards in the setback.
Cal Poly’s final offensive possession of the season was a 12-play, 81-yard scoring drive, capped by Brown’s 75th career touchdown, which tied the school record. Walsh said many of the Mustang seniors wanted to stay in the game for the final drive despite the lopsided score.
“I give them credit for that,” Walsh said. “I thought it showed what competitive people they are, and that’s an important part of the game, too.
“I just don’t think we played well.”