No. 17 Cal Poly Beats No. 15 Northern Arizona for Share of Big Sky Title
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In its first year in the Big Sky Conference, the No. 17-ranked Cal Poly football team gained a share of the title.
Sophomore slotback Kristaan Ivory scored two touchdowns and senior quarterback Andre Broadous threw a pair of scoring passes as the Mustangs overcame an early 7-0 deficit and beat No. 15 Northern Arizona 42-34 on Saturday in the Walkup Skydome.
Senior slotback Deonte Williams surpassed the 100-yard mark for the 10th time this season as Cal Poly raised its overall record to 9-2. Northern Arizona fell to 8-3.
Cal Poly, Eastern Washington and Montana State all finished with 7-1 Big Sky records. Eastern Washington gets the conference's automatic bid to the playoffs by virtue of its win over Sacramento State. Northern Arizona finished 6-2.
NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff pairings will be announced Sunday at 10:30 a.m. PST on ESPNU.
Cal Poly broke two records in the game – rushing yards for a season at Cal Poly as well as for the Big Sky Conference – accumulating 323 yards on the ground. Add the 180 passing yards and the Mustangs earned 503 total yards.
Northern Arizona's Brandon Phillips returned a Cal Poly fumble 61 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Lumberjack lead midway through the first quarter.
Cal Poly answered with two scoring runs by Ivory of 13 and one yards and junior linebacker Nick Dzubnar returned an interception 40 yards as the Mustangs built a 21-13 halftime advantage.
The Mustangs led by as many as 22 points in the second half, but Northern Arizona twice cut the deficit to eight points and tried an onside kick with 1:33 to play. The Lumberjacks were penalized for illegal touching and Cal Poly picked up a key first down on a 12-yard third-down run by Ivory and ran out the clock.
Cole Stanford caught a pair of 51-yard passes, one for a touchdown, Willie Tucker added a five-yard scoring catch and Broadous ran three yards for the final Mustang touchdown with 3:14 to go. It proved to be the game-clinching score.
Broadous completed six of nine passes for 180 yards and two scores. Stanford was his favorite target with three catches for 127 yards.
Williams finished with 139 yards on 25 carries, averaging 5.6 yards a carry. His 37-yard run set up the final one-yard scoring run by Broadous.
Williams now has 1,458 yards on the year, No. 2 all-time at Cal Poly and 120 yards shy of James Noble's single-season mark of 1,578 yards. He has cracked the 100-yard mark 10 times in 11 games this season, 11 times in his Cal Poly career and 15 in his collegiate career.
Williams rushed for 950 yards, including four 100-yard games, in his freshman season at Northern Arizona in 2008.
Ivory earned his first 100-yard game as a Mustang, finishing with exactly 100 yards on 19 carries and his two scores. Fullback Akaninyene Umoh added 57 yards on 13 trips.
Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman, No. 2 in the Big Sky in rushing, netted 44 yards on 14 carries. He missed most of the second half with an elbow injury. Casey Jahn also had 44 yards on eight carries.
Quarterback Cary Grossart completed 23 of 36 passes for 274 yards and was intercepted twice – by Dzubnar and Jordan Williams. R.J. Rickert caught eight passes and Bauman four for the Lumberjacks.
Dzubnar was Cal Poly's defensive leader with nine tackles, including two for lost yardage, and forced a fumble along with his interception. Cornerback Nico Molino added eight tackles, including one for lost yardage, and also forced a fumble and broke up a pass. Like Williams, Molino also played at Northern Arizona in 2008.
Andrew Alcaraz had seven tackles, including one sack. Sullivan Grosz and Johnny Millard also earned sacks for the Mustangs.
Jarret Bilbrey notched 14 tackles, Lucky Dozier 13 and Phillips 12 for Northern Arizona.
Cal Poly beat the Lumberjacks for the first time in the nine-game series dating back to the first meeting in 1935.
The Mustangs are seeking their first NCAA FCS playoff berth since 2008 and their first in the four-year Tim Walsh Era. Cal Poly reached the quarterfinal round of the playoffs in 2005 and lost to Weber State in the first round of the 2008 playoffs.
Cal Poly earned its fourth win on the road this season, the most since the 2004 squad went 5-1. The Mustangs' ninth win equals the win total of the 2004 (9-2) and 2005 (9-4) teams. Cal Poly is 14-5 in regular-season finales over the last 19 years.
Cal Poly football is presented by French Hospital Medical Center.