Unbeaten and No. 14/15 Cal Poly Returns Home for Next Two Games
NOTES: CAL POLY | NORTHERN COLORADO | BIG SKY
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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- No. 14/15 Cal Poly (5-0, 3-0 Big Sky), off to a 5-0 start for the first time in eight years and one of just 10 unbeaten teams in the Football Championship Subdivision, continues its inaugural season in the Big Sky Conference with its next two games at home, beginning Saturday night with Northern Colorado (1-4, 0-2 Big Sky) inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium (11,075) in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Kickoff for the Parent and Family Weekend contest is set for 6:05 p.m. PDT and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio (1280 am) with Tom Barket providing the play-by-play and Kyle Shotwell doing color commentary. KSBY-TV will televise the game live with Bill Halter (play-by-play), Andrew Masuda (color commentary) and Dave Hovde (sideline reporting) on the microphones. Links for audio and video streams as well as live stats are available at www.GoPoly.com.
Cal Poly stretched its winning streak over the last two seasons to six straight with a 45-23 victory over Weber State last Friday in Ogden, Utah. The Mustang defense came alive with two sacks by Grant Goebel, another by Nick Leyden, a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown by Barrett Wangara and two quarterback hurries and a pass breakup by Sullivan Grosz, all in the final 20 minutes of the game, turning a slim 21-20 lead into a 22-point margin of victory. Quarterback Andre Broadous threw a career-high three touchdown passes while Brandon Howe and Kristaan Ivory (pictured above) both caught a touchdown pass and ran for another score.
Northern Colorado, 0-11 in Earnest Collins' first season at the helm of his alma mater, opened its 2012 season with a 41-0 loss at Utah, then snapped a two-year 12-game losing streak with a 40-3 win over Colorado Mesa followed by a non-conference loss to Sacramento State 28-17 and Big Sky losses to Montana State 41-16 and Montana 40-17. The Bears turned the ball over five times, four on interceptions, in the setback against Montana last week in Greeley, Colo.
Senior slotback Deonte Williams is the No. 1 rusher in the Big Sky and No. 7 in the FCS in rushing, averaging 128.0 yards per game, while senior cornerback Nico Molino leads the nation and Big Sky with his four interceptions. As a team, Cal Poly is No. 3 in the FCS and No. 1 in the Big Sky in rushing offense (310.20) and is No. 17 in scoring offense (34.60) and No. 22 in scoring defense (19.20) in the FCS.
Out of the polls in 2011, Cal Poly regained its spot in the top 25 two weeks ago at No. 23 in both the coaches and media polls, moved up to No. 19 in the coaches poll and No. 20 in the media poll following the win over North Dakota and climbed to No. 14 in the coaches poll and No. 15 in the media poll after beating Weber State last week. The Mustangs, 4-1 at home each of the last three seasons, have won eight of their last 14 games on the road since going winless away from Alex G. Spanos Stadium in 2009 as part of an eight-game road losing streak.
Facing a difficult schedule, Cal Poly posted a 6-5 mark in 2011, clinching its eighth winning season in the last nine years and nine of 11 with a season-ending 41-10 triumph at South Alabama. Cal Poly's foes on the 2011 schedule were a combined 68-45 and the Mustangs faced two FBS schools (San Diego State and Northern Illinois) while South Alabama was in transition to FBS.
Cal Poly football, presented by French Hospital Medical Center, is off to its best start since the 2004 squad won its first seven games en route to a 9-2 campaign. Nine Mustang teams have started the year 5-0 or better, including the 1953 squad which went 9-0 and the 1933 team that finished 7-0, the only two Cal Poly squads to play at least five games and finish unbeaten and untied.
Williams, who opened the 2012 season with four consecutive 100-yard games, surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in career rushing as a Mustang last week. He now has 1,025 yards in two years at Cal Poly and, including his 2008 freshman season at Northern Arizona, has 1,975 yards in three collegiate campaigns.
Broadous recently cracked the 2,000-yard mark in career passing as a Mustang. He has thrown for 2,155 yards and has been picked off just twice in 293 career attempts.
Northern Colorado returned 40 lettermen, including 12 starters, off last year's team which went 0-11 overall and finished ninth in the Big Sky at 0-8.
Against Montana last week, Northern Colorado trailed just 10-7 after Dominic Gunn returned the kickoff opening the second half 98 yards for a touchdown (he also returned a kickoff opening the second half 94 yards at Montana a year ago), but UNC went on to surrender 223 rushing yards and 30 points in the second half. Gunn also caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Seth Lobato and Dave Eden kicked a 24-yard field goal. Lobato completed 25 of 42 passes for 259 yards, but was sacked four times and intercepted three times.
For the season, Tromaine Dennis has rushed for 262 yards and four scores while Lobato has completed 98 of 186 passes (52.7 percent) for 1,134 yards and three scores; he has been intercepted seven times. Jace Davis has 25 catches while Gunn has 18 to lead all Bear receivers. In addition to his kickoff return against Montana, Gunn also has returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown this season.
Linebacker Clarence Bumpas, a Buck Buchanan Award candidate, has 49 tackles, including three sacks, in five games. Northern Colorado is averaging 300 yards in total offense per game -- 172 on the ground and 228 through the air -- while giving up 394 yards a contest (191 rushing, 203 passing) and has been outscored on average 30.6 to 18.0.
Cal Poly and Northern Colorado are meeting for the 10th time in football this weekend and the Mustangs own a 7-2 advantage in the series, winning the only three meetings between the two schools since Cal Poly moved to Division I in 1994. The series started in 1958 and the last meeting was in 2007 in San Luis Obispo, won by Cal Poly 56-21 as junior quarterback Jonathan Dally threw two touchdown passes and ran for four more scores. Running back Jono Grayson rushed for 127 yards on 15 carries, helping the Mustangs accumulate 612 yards in total offense.
Northern Colorado's last win against the Mustangs was a 14-13 decision in 1982 in San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly is 5-1 against the Bears in San Luis Obispo and 2-1 in Greeley.
Cal Poly captured four Great West Conference titles in the eight-year history of the league (2004, 2005, 2008, 2011) and earned NCAA Division I FCS playoff berths in both 2005 and 2008, reaching the quarterfinals in 2005. The Mustangs have won 70 of their last 107 games dating back to the 2002 season finale and have won 27 of their last 51 games on the road and 44 of their last 53 home contests.
Next week, Cal Poly hosts Portland State on Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 20, with kickoff in Alex G. Spanos Stadium set for 6:05 p.m. The Vikings (2-4, 1-2 Big Sky) have a bye this week.