No. 16 Cal Poly to Visit No. 7 Eastern Washington for Crucial Game
NOTES: CAL POLY | EASTERN WASHINGTON | BIG SKY
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BIG SKY CONFERENCE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Previously unbeaten and No. 16 Cal Poly (7-1, 5-1 Big Sky), which had its eight-game winning streak over two seasons snapped by Sacramento State last weekend, steps away from Big Sky Conference play with a non-conference contest Saturday afternoon at No. 7 Eastern Washington (6-2, 5-1 Big Sky) at red-carpeted Roos Field (8,600).
Kickoff is set for 1:35 p.m. PDT and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio (1280 am) with Tom Barket providing the play-by-play and Eric Burdick doing color commentary. The game also will be televised in the Spokane area on SWX. Links for audio and video streams as well as live stats are available at www.GoPoly.com.
Both the Mustangs and Eagles, who played an historic three-overtime game a year ago in Alex G. Spanos Stadium, won by Eastern Washington 53-51, suffered their first Big Sky Conference losses of the season last week on the road. The two teams are tied for second place in the Big Sky, a half-game behind Northern Arizona (7-1, 5-0 Big Sky), which beat Northern Colorado 12-10 on an 18-yard field goal by Andy Wilder with 15 seconds remaining.
Cal Poly dropped a 35-29 decision at Sacramento State despite compiling a season-high 387 yards on the ground, including 168 by senior slotback Deonte Williams, and jumping to an early 10-0 lead thanks to two Hornet fumbles recovered by sophomore linebacker Nick Dzubnar in the first five minutes of the game.
Eastern Washington fell 30-27 at Southern Utah as Colton Cook kicked a 36-yard field goal with three seconds left. The Eagles entered the game ranked No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision and led 27-20 midway through the third quarter before surrendering the final 10 points of the contest.
Three Mustang teams jumped to 7-0 starts since Cal Poly moved to Division I in 1994. All three lost in Week 8. The 1997 squad under head coach Larry Welsh lost to Liberty and finished 10-1 while the 2004 Mustangs guided by Rich Ellerson fell to UC Davis and closed the season 9-2.
Williams is the top rusher in the Big Sky and No. 6 in the FCS in rushing, averaging 136.8 yards per game with seven games of 100 or more yards on the ground this season. Williams also rushed for 100 yards against UC Davis a year ago and produced four 100-yard games as a freshman at Northern Arizona in 2008. With 1,094 yards in eight games this season, he is the 15th Mustang to crack the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a season and Williams needs one more 100-yard game to catch James Noble's school record of eight in one season.
Senior cornerback Nico Molino is eighth in the nation and first in the 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 (323.4) and the Mustangs also are No. 1 in the Big Sky and No. 12 in the FCS in scoring offense (36.9).
Out of the polls in 2011, Cal Poly regained its spot in the top 25 five weeks ago and climbed steadily up the polls each week to No. 11 in both the coaches and media polls before falling to Sacramento State. The Mustangs, 4-1 at home each of the last three seasons, have won eight of their last 15 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, has already clinched its 10th winning season in the last 12 years. The Mustangs captured four Great West Conference titles in the eight-year history of the league (2004, 2005, 2008, 2011) before moving to the Big Sky this fall and earned NCAA Division I FCS playoff berths in both 2005 and 2008, reaching the quarterfinals in 2005. The Mustangs have won 72 of their last 110 games (65.5 percent) dating back to the 2002 season finale and have won 27 of their last 52 games on the road and 45 of their last 54 home contests.
Williams, who opened the 2012 season with four consecutive 100-yard games, surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in career rushing as a Mustang four weeks ago. He now has 1,479 yards in two years at Cal Poly and, including his 2008 freshman season at Northern Arizona, has 2,429 yards in three collegiate campaigns.
Broadous recently cracked the 2,000-yard mark in career passing as a Mustang. He has thrown for 2,553 yards, No. 10 all-time at Cal Poly, and has been picked off just twice in 326 career attempts. With 29 career rushing touchdowns, he needs six more to catch James Noble's school record. Broadous has rushed for 1,296 yards in his Mustang career.
Eastern Washington, coached by Beau Baldwin (fifth season, 39-18, Central Washington '96) returned 51 lettermen, including 16 starters, off last year's team which went 6-5 overall and finished tied for third in the Big Sky at 5-3, one year after capturing the FCS championship.
The Eagles opened their 2012 season with a pair of games against FBS schools, defeating Idaho 20-3 and falling to Washington State 24-20. EWU then reeled off five straight wins, including 32-26 over Montana and 27-24 over Montana State, before Southern Utah halted the streak with a 30-27 victory last week, thanks in part to a 36-yard Colton Cook field goal with three seconds left. The Eagles, held to 91 rushing yards, used the combined passing of Kyle Padron and Vernon Adams to compile 404 yards in the air, but SUU's Brad Sorensen completed 33 of 43 passes for 392 yards. Ashton Clark (11) and Brandon Kaufman (10) combined for 21 receptions for the Eagles.
For the season, Padron has completed 86 of 159 passes for 1,201 yards and seven scores while Adams has connected on 84 of 133 passes for 1,074 yards and 11 TDs. Top Eagle rusher is Quincy Forte with 349 yards and one TD in eight games. Kaufman has 46 catches, Greg Herd 35 and Clark 32 for the Eagles, who have already produced one interception return (Jordan Tonani 21 yards), punt return (Evan Day 0 yards) and kick return (Shaquille Hill 99 yards) for touchdowns this season. Linebacker Ronnie Hamlin leads the defense with 82 tackles, 6.0 for lost yardage.
Eastern Washington has outscored its eight foes 30.5 to 22.3 and is averaging 427 yards in total offense per game -- 140 on the ground and 287 through the air -- while giving up 381 yards a contest (149 rushing, 232 passing).
Cal Poly and Eastern Washington will be playing each other in football for the sixth time Saturday. Eastern Washington has a 3-2 series advantage after last year's 53-51 triple-overtime win over Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
Saturday's result would be used as a tiebreaker if Cal Poly and Eastern Washington end up sharing the Big Sky title.
Next week Cal Poly returns to Big Sky play with its final home game of the 2012 regular season, hosting Idaho State (1-7, 0-5 Big Sky entering Saturday's home game against Northern Arizona). Kickoff on Nov. 10 in Alex G. Spanos Stadium is set for 6:05 p.m.