Cal Poly Rallies to Beat South Dakota, Clinching Tie for Great West Title

Cal Poly Rallies to Beat South Dakota, Clinching Tie for Great West Title


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – A 44-yard punt return by Greg Francis set up a game-winning 39-yard field goal by James Langford as Cal Poly rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat No. 17 South Dakota 27-24 in a Great West Conference football game Saturday night before 10,557 inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

The victory was Cal Poly's fourth in a row following a 1-3 start and gave the Mustangs (5-3, 3-1 Great West) at least a share of their fourth Great West title in the eight-year history of the conference. South Dakota fell to 5-4 and 2-1.

South Dakota built its 17-0 first-half lead on a 22-yard field goal by Kevin Robb and a pair of Dante Warren touchdown passes – 29 yards to Dustin Nowotny and 43 yards to Will Powell.

A 22-yard field goal by Langford and a three-yard touchdown pass from Andre Broadous to Jake Romanelli in the third quarter cut South Dakota's lead to 17-10.

The visiting Coyotes opened the fourth quarter with a 62-yard touchdown drive culminating with a 15-yard run by backup quarterback Josh Vander Maten and a 24-10 cushion with 13:32 to play.

Cal Poly, however, scored the final 17 points of the game in less than five minutes.

Broadous (pictured above) scored his 12th and 13th touchdowns of the season on runs of two and one yards, the first with 4:47 to play and the second with 2:05 remaining, to tie the game at 24-24. In between the two drives spanning 76 and 58 yards, Cal Poly forced South Dakota to punt.

The Coyotes lost two yards on their next three plays, forcing another punt. Cole Zwiefelhofer's 51-yard punt was returned 44 yards by Francis to the South Dakota 29-yard line with 55 seconds to play.

Cal Poly gained seven yards on three running plays – South Dakota using its allotment of three time outs – before Langford connected from 39 yards with 36 seconds remaining.

South Dakota moved the ball 16 yards to the Cal Poly 44-yard line, but two incomplete Vander Maten passes ran out the clock.

Cal Poly accumulated 17 of its 21 first downs and 261 of its 334 total yards in the second half. The Mustangs finished with five more yards and five more first downs than the Coyotes, who led the entire game until the final 36 seconds.

In its last home game against Southern Utah two weeks ago, the Mustangs did not lead until the final 45 seconds of the 31-27 triumph.

Cal Poly's 217-yard ground game was led by Romanelli with 88 yards on 20 carries. Romanelli has gained at least 88 yards in each of his last seven games. Broadous finished with 69 yards on 25 trips and slotback Deonte Williams, subbing for the injured Mark Rodgers, added 49 yards on 14 carries.

Broadous completed 13 of 22 passes for 117 yards and one score. He was sacked three times and his favorite target was Romanelli with four catches for 29 yards. Williams added three receptions.

Linebacker Johnny Millard and cornerback Bijon Samoodi each had nine tackles for the Mustang defense. Cal Poly notched six sacks, including two by Sullivan Grosz, while linebacker Max Schulz and tackle Erich Klemme each notched a pair of quarterback hurries.

For South Dakota, Marcus Sims rushed for 54 yard on 18 carries, Warren completed 11 of 16 passes for 183 yards and Vander Maten, who replaced the injured Warren (foot injury) late in the third quarter, connected on just three of 12 passes for 55 yards. Powell caught seven passes for 141 yards. Linebacker Adam Broders recorded a game-high 18 tackles, including one sack, and Darius Hogans added 11 tackles.

Cal Poly plays its final Great West Conference game next Saturday at UC Davis. The Aggies (2-6, 0-2 Great West) fell 34-3 to Southern Utah on Saturday.