REVAMPED OFFENSE JUST AS GOOD FOR #12 CAL POLY IN WIN OVER FOOTBALL
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Any questions about whether Cal Poly could reload its national leading offense were answered Saturday afternoon, as the 12th-ranked Mustangs defeated Sacramento State, 38-19, at Spanos Stadium.
The Hornets dropped to 0-2 on the season while the Mustangs began the year 1-0.
Last season, Cal Poly led the Football Championship Subdivision with 487.5 yards per game. The Mustangs lost their head coach, quarterback, leading receiver and top three rushers from that squad but posted 476 yards against the Hornets.
"We showed that we have a ways to go," Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "We need to work on becoming more consistent and eliminate the little mistakes.
"You have to give credit to Cal Poly. They're a good team and there's a reason why they're ranked where they are. Their offense is very difficult to defend especially when you only have three days to prepare."
After forcing a three-and-out to start the contest, Cal Poly drove 51 yards on seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard run from quarterback Tony Smith.
Sacramento State answered with a 29-yard field goal from Chris Diniz only to have the Mustangs match the points with a 24-yard field goal to start the second quarter. A Hornet fumble gave the ball to Cal Poly at the Hornet 42-yard line and it needed just two plays to find the end zone as Smith connected with Jarred Houston for a 41-yard reception.
Diniz made his third field goal of the season to make the score 17-6 with 8:05 to play in the half. The Hornets then closed within six when Jason Smith completed back-to-back long passes for the team's first touchdown of the year. The first pass was a 46-yard strike to Brandyn Reed down the middle of the field. That play set up a 23-yard over-the-shoulder catch by Brett Willis in the left side of the end zone for his first career TD.
All momentum was lost, however, when Tony Smith hooked up with fullback Jon Hall for a 52-yard touchdown pass down the center of the Hornet defense.
The Mustang offense continued its assault with two touchdowns in the third quarter. Cal Poly had the ball for 12:18 of the period on just two drives and compiled 165 yards of offense. The first touchdown came on a 6-yard pass to Mike Anderson while Jaymes Thierry rushed 1 yard for the second.
The only points of the fourth quarter came with nine seconds left when freshman Sam McCowan scored his first career touchdown for Sacramento State from 1-yard out.
As a team, the Hornets compiled 288 total yards of offense with 288 coming through the air. Smith ended the game 16-of-30 for 217 yards and one touchdown with a pair of interceptions. McLeod Bethel-Thompson came on in the fourth quarter to complete 3-of-4 passes for 29 yards and a pick. Evander Wilkins was the leading rusher with 31 yards while John Hendershott grabbed six passes for 86 yards.
Tony Smith was 12-of-19 for 218 yards and three scores through the air and led the Mustangs with 20 carries for 92 yards. UCLA transfer Dominique Johnson caught four passes for a team-high 61 yards.
Defensively, Zach Schrader, Greg Johnson and Ryan Shinar each had nine tackles to lead the team.
Following a week off, the Hornets will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 26, for their home opener against Eastern Washington. The game, which is also the team's Big Sky Conference opener, will begin at 6:05 p.m.
NOTES: Cal Poly now leads the all-time series, 16-15...the Mustangs' head coach Tim Walsh is now 13-1 all-time against Sacramento State…safety Deionte Gordon left the game in the second quarter with a leg injury and did not return…the Hornets are now minus-5 on the year in turnover margin…Cal Poly was 4-for-12 on third down conversions and the Hornets were 4-of-14.