No. 10/12 Cal Poly Hits the Road for Pair of Contests Against FBS Schools

No. 10/12 Cal Poly Hits the Road for Pair of Contests Against FBS Schools


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly will play Fresno State in a non-conference matchup of Central California rivals Saturday night for just the second time in the last 28 years.

The Mustangs, ranked No. 10 in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll and 12th in the The Sports Network media poll, visit the Bulldogs for the 44th meeting between the two former California Collegiate Athletic Association members in Bulldog Stadium (41,031).

Kickoff is set for 7 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 video streamed by ESPN3. Links for audio and video streams as well as live stats are available at

A year ago, Cal Poly finished 9-3 overall, captured a share of the Big Sky title in its first year in the conference and earned a second-round NCAA FCS playoff berth, falling 18-16 to Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas. In earning their third FCS playoff berth, the Mustangs finished with a winning record for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons.

Cal Poly opened its fifth season under head coach Tim Walsh with a 38-16 victory over San Diego last Saturday in Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Junior slotback Kristaan Ivory rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns, junior quarterback Vince Moraga completed 15 of 21 passes for 226 yards in his first start as a Mustang and junior wide receiver Willie Tucker caught a career-high seven passes for 113 yards. The Mustang defense was led by senior linebacker Xavier Ramos with a career-high 13 tackles and a fumble recovery and senior defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz with two of Cal Poly's four sacks.

Fresno State threw 73 passes, but needed an extra period to defeat Rutgers 52-51 last Thursday in Bulldog Stadium. Derek Carr, younger brother of David Carr, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, completed 52 of his 73 attempts for 456 yards and five touchdowns, including the game-winner to Greg Watson in overtime. Davante Adams and Josh Harper each had 14 catches while Isaiah Burse had 13 for the Bulldogs, who rushed for just 81 yards.

Carr, who passed for 3,544 yards as a sophomore and 4,104 yards as a junior, needs 2,592 passing yards to tie Kevin Sweeney's school record that has stood since 1986. He has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Davey O'Brien Award, the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. Carr was the 2012 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and has been named 2013 Mountain West Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

Cal Poly opened Fall Camp with 58 returning lettermen, including 17 players who started at least four games in 2012. Topping the list of returnees are a pair of second-team All-Big Sky honorees -- linebacker Johnny Millard and defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz -- and eight others who earned All-Big Sky honorable mention praise.

Moraga won a four-man battle at quarterback in Fall Camp and was tabbed by Walsh on August 19 to start the season opener. Ivory rushed for 728 yards and eight touchdowns as a backup to 1,500-yard rusher Deonte Williams a year ago.

On defense, all four starting defensive linemen of a year ago -- ends Andrew Alcaraz and Jake Irwin plus tackles Grosz and Chris Lawrence -- return. At linebacker, junior Nick Dzubnar moves from the outside to replace Jackson in the middle (Mike) while Millard shifts from Will to Sam. Junior Cameron Ontko takes over at Will. Eight of the nine defensive backs who played six or more games last fall return along with senior three-year letterman Bijon Samoodi, who sat out the 2012 season with a hip injury.

Bobby Zalud, who handled all kicking duties (55-for-55 PATs, 12-for-16 field goals, 40.6 punting average), and return specialist Chris Nicholls (24.0 average per kickoff return, 8.5 average per punt return) also return.

As a team a year ago, Cal Poly was No. 1 in the FCS in passing efficiency, No. 3 in rushing offense (324.2 yards a game), No. 7 in scoring offense (38.6 points per contest) and No. 8 in sacks allowed (.83 per game) in 2012. In addition, the Mustang defense showed considerable improvement last fall compared to the year before. In 2012, Cal Poly was No. 45 in scoring defense (86th two years ago) and No. 57 in total defense (90th in 2011).

Fresno State returned 37 lettermen, including 15 starters (seven on offense, eight on defense) off a team which went 9-4 in 2012, shared first place with Boise State and San Diego State in the Mountain West and lost to SMU 43-10 in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.

In addition to Carr, Adams and Burse, top Bulldog returnees include offensive linemen Austin Wentworth and Cody Wichmann, nose guard Tyler Davison, linebacker Donovan Lewis and defensive backs Sean Alston, L.J. Jones and Derron Smith. All were starters in each of Fresno State's 13 games a year ago. Smith had 79 tackles and six interceptions a year ago while Alston had five thefts and 51 tackles.

Fresno State has won 26 conference titles in 91 seasons of football with 24 bowl appearances, winning 11. A total of 114 Bulldogs have earned All-America honors. Tim DeRuyter is in his second season as head coach at Fresno State after serving two years as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. The 1985 Air Force Academy graduate also has coached at Air Force (2007-09), Nevada (2005-06), Ohio (1995-98, 2002-04) and Navy (1999-2001). DeRuyter is a St. John Bosco (Bellflower) High School graduate.

The Bulldog roster includes one player from a Central Coast high school -- sophomore offensive lineman Bo Bonnheim of Paso Robles High -- as well as freshman running back James Noble III, whose older brother, James II, rushed for 3,678 yards in four seasons at Cal Poly, including a school-record 1,578 yards as a freshman in 2005.

The Bulldog coaching staff includes three Mustang connections -- first-year secondary coach David Brown, second-year tight ends coach Phil Earley and fifth-year running backs coach Joe Wade. Brown was a defensive back at Cal Poly from 1992-95 and coached the Mustangs from 2001-05, the last two years as defensive coordinator under Rich Ellerson. He also was head coach at Missouri S&T for three years and also has coached at Ohio, Claremont-McKenna, Hancock College and Venice High School. Earley was assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Andre Patterson at Cal Poly from 1994-96. Wade's son, Joe Wade III, played at Cal Poly in the early 1990s and was a graduate assistant coach in 1995.

Fresno State leads Cal Poly 31-10-2 in the all-time series which began in 1922. The Bulldogs have won the last six meetings, including a 38-17 verdict in 2010 at Bulldog Stadium. Ahead by just four points at halftime, Fresno State scored 17 unanswered second-half points for the win, compiling a 459-221 advantage in total offense and 26-13 in first downs. Quarterback Andre Broadous rushed for 82 yards on 25 carries while slotback Mark Rodgers added 72 yards on 14 trips. Broadous completed three of seven passes for 18 yards, with Dominique Johnson catching two of the passes for 13 yards. Seven of Cal Poly's 10 wins against Fresno State occurred from 1969-79 when Joe Harper was head coach.

Out of the polls in 2011, Cal Poly regained its spot in the top 25 in 2012, climbing to as high as No. 11 in both the coaches and media polls before falling to Sacramento State and Eastern Washington. The Mustangs, 4-1 at home three straight seasons (2009-11), went unbeaten (5-0) at home last fall for the first time since the 2005 squad went 6-0 at home. Cal Poly has won 48 of its last 57 home games (84 percent) and has claimed nine of its last 18 games on the road since going winless away from Alex G. Spanos Stadium in 2009 as part of an eight-game road losing streak.

Cal Poly football, presented by French Hospital Medical Center, captured four Great West Conference titles in the eight-year history of the league (2004, 2005, 2008, 2011) before moving to the Big Sky last fall and has earned NCAA Division I FCS playoff berths in 2005, 2008 and 2012, reaching the quarterfinals in 2005 with a win at Montana before falling at Texas State. The Mustangs have won 75 of their last 115 games (65 percent) dating back to the 2002 season finale and have won 28 of their last 55 games on the road (51 percent).

Next week, Cal Poly continues its three-game road trip with the second of its two matchups against a Football Bowl Subdivision and Mountain West Conference foe, visiting Colorado State. Kickoff in Hughes Stadium is set for 12:30 p.m. PDT. The Mustangs don't play a home game in September, returning to Spanos Stadium on Oct. 5 with a 2:05 p.m. contest against Yale, the first-ever Big Sky Conference versus Ivy League matchup.