No. 19 Cal Poly to Host Idaho State for Final Regular-Season Home Game
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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- No. 19 Cal Poly (7-2, 5-1 Big Sky), which opened the 2012 season with seven straight wins, seeks to snap a two-game losing streak Saturday night as the Mustangs play their final regular-season home game, hosting Idaho State (1-8, 0-6 Big Sky) for a Big Sky Conference matchup on Heroes Day and Senior Day in Alex G. Spanos Stadium (11,075).
Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. PST and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio (1280 am) with Tom Barket providing the play-by-play and Craig Johnston doing color commentary. The game also will be televised by KSBY-TV with Bill Halter (play-by-play), Andrew Masuda (color) and Hope Hanselman (sideline) on the microphones. Links for audio and video streams as well as live stats are available at www.GoPoly.com.
Cal Poly, which had an eight-game winning streak over two seasons snapped by Sacramento State two weeks ago, fell 34-17 in a non-conference game at Eastern Washington last Saturday. Despite the setback, the Mustangs can still secure at least a share of the Big Sky title with wins against Idaho State and Nov. 17 at first-place Northern Arizona.
The Bengals fell 50-10 at home to Northern Arizona last week. Idaho State surrendered 616 yards in total offense, gave up 50 or more points for the seventh straight game and converted just two of 16 third-down plays. Bengal quarterback Kevin Yost completed 26 of 52 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown while Big Sky receiving leader Rodrick Rumble and teammate Josh Hill each had seven catches.
Three Mustang teams -- 1997, 2004 and 2012 -- jumped to 7-0 starts since Cal Poly moved to Division I in 1994 and the 2008 squad won seven straight games as well. All four teams lost in attempting to stretch the run to eight games.
Williams is the top rusher in the Big Sky and No. 6 in the FCS in rushing, averaging 132.7 yards per game with eight games of 100 or more yards on the ground this season, tying the school record set by James Noble in 2005. 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 1,194 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 384 yards to catch Noble's single-season rushing yardage mark of 1,578 yards, also set in 2005.
Senior cornerback Nico Molino is 14th 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 (315.3) and the Mustangs also are No. 3 in the Big Sky and No. 17 in the FCS in scoring offense (34.7).
Out of the polls in 2011, Cal Poly regained its spot in the top 25 six 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, are 4-0 this fall and attempting to go unbeaten at home for the first time since the 2005 squad went 6-0 at home. Cal Poly has won eight of its last 16 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 111 games (64.9 percent) dating back to the 2002 season finale and have won 27 of their last 53 games on the road and 46 of their last 55 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 five weeks ago. He now has 1,579 yards in two years at Cal Poly and, including his 2008 freshman season at Northern Arizona, has 2,529 yards in three collegiate campaigns.
Broadous recently cracked the 2,000-yard mark in career passing as a Mustang. He has thrown for 2,682 yards, No. 10 all-time at Cal Poly, and has been picked off just three times in 344 career attempts. With 29 career rushing touchdowns, he needs six more to catch James Noble's school record. Broadous has rushed for 1,337 yards in his Mustang career.
Idaho State, coached by Mike Kramer (second year at Idaho State (3-17), 14th season overall (80-92), Idaho '77) returned 39 lettermen, including 16 starters, off last year's team which went 2-9 overall and finished eighth in the Big Sky at 1-7.
After a season-opening loss at Air Force, the Bengals defeated Black Hills State 38-5 before losing seven in a row, including last week's loss to Northern Arizona.
Yost has completed 287 of 455 passes for 3,049 yards, all best in the Big Sky, and 20 scores this season; he has been intercepted 11 times. Rumble is the top receiver in the Big Sky with 8.0 catches per game (56 for 744 yards) while Cam Richmond has 63 catches in nine games for 698 yards. Josh Hill has 53 catches and Luke Austin 42. Xavier Finney leads the Bengal ground game with 226 yards in nine games while Aaron Prier has 217 yards in eight contests. Sophomore linebacker Mitch Beckstead leads the Bengals defensively with 78 tackles while Donovan Henley has three interceptions.
Idaho State has been outscored 53.6 to 22.2 this season and is averaging 409 yards in total offense per game -- 50 on the ground and 358 through the air -- while giving up 567 yards a contest (341 rushing, 226 passing). The Bengals are last among the 121 FCS schools in rushing offense (50.2), rushing defense (340.89), total defense (567.11) and scoring defense (53.56).
Cal Poly and Idaho State will be playing each other in football for the 18th time Saturday, but the first meeting in four years. Cal Poly has an 11-6 advantage in the series dating back to 1937 and has won the last four meetings, including a 49-10 triumph in 2008 in San Luis Obispo, setting a school FCS record with 459 rushing yards.
A total of 11 seniors will be honored during a ceremony prior to their final regular-season home game. They include Andre Broadous, Doug Shumway, Nico Molino, Kennith Jackson, Deonte Williams, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Michalkiewicz, Ryan Solomon, Karl Winkelman, Geoff Hyde and Josh Swaney. In addition, junior Amir Tadros will graduate next spring and will be honored as well.
Next week Cal Poly wraps up the 2012 regular season with a Big Sky game at Northern Arizona (8-1, 6-0 Big Sky entering Saturday's home game against Southern Utah). Kickoff in the Walkup Skydome is set for 3:05 p.m. PST.
Photo of defensive lineman Chris Lawrence courtesy of Matt Brown