BROOKINGS, S.D. – Junior fullback Joe Protheroe rushed for a career-high 217 yards and two touchdowns, senior quarterback Dano Graves passed for 161 yards and one touchdown and junior safety Aaryn Bouzos intercepted a pass with 1:55 to play as Cal Poly upset No. 9/10 South Dakota State 38-31 on Saturday night before 16,887 in Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
Protheroe, who carried the ball a career-high 31 times, scored on runs of 76 and 13 yards in the fourth quarter. Graves hit Kyle Lewis with a 33-yard scoring pass and Kori Garcia added 82 yards on 10 carries as Coach Tim Walsh's Mustangs accumulated 601 yards in total offense and improved to 2-1 on the season.
South Dakota State dropped to 1-2.
South Dakota State held leads of 7-0 and 10-7 in the first 16 minutes of the game. Cal Poly grabbed the lead at 14-10 on a 21-yard touchdown run by Garcia with 10:11 to go in the second quarter and the Mustangs never trailed the rest of the way though the game was tied at 17-17, 24-24 and 31-31.
Protheroe's 13-yard scoring run with 2:28 to go gave Cal Poly a 38-31 lead and Bouzos intercepted Taryn Christion on third down with 1:55 to play. Cal Poly was able to pick up one first down and run out the clock.
Cal Poly compiled advantages of 27-21 in first downs, 601-336 in total offense and 35:43 to 24:17 in time of possession. The interception by Bouzos was the first turnover forced by the Mustang defense this season.
The Mustangs punted just once in the game -- on their opening drive -- and were six of 11 on third-down conversions and two of three on fourth down.
"I give a ton of credit to Cal Poly," said Jacks coach John Stiegelmeier. "They ran their offense and we could not stop it. Some of it was scheme, some of it was confusion, and some of it was they're a good football team."
Graves (pictured at right) completed nine of 11 passes and his favorite target was Lewis with five receptions for 122 yards. Garcia and J.J. Koski each made a pair of catches.
"We had some good push up front," said Walsh. "(SDSU's defensive tackles) are big ol' dudes, and we weren't sure if we could control the line of scrimmage like we did. As the game went on we felt good about it, our players felt good about it, and you could feel the O-line's intensity rise on the sideline."
Said South Dakota State senior linebacker Jesse Bobbit, who had 16 tackles: "Nothing we hadn't seen ... exactly what we went against all week in practice, but they were a lot faster than our scouts. Give them credit. They were a very good team."
South Dakota State, which amassed 265 passing yards but was held to just 71 yards on the ground, was paced by Isaac Wallace and Brady Mengarelli, each with 40 rushing yards. Christion completed 20 of 33 passes for 252 yards and three scores. All-American receiver Jake Wieneke caught nine passes for 114 yards.
Jesse Bobbit and Chris Balster notched 16 and 10 tackles, respectively, for South Dakota State.
Cal Poly, which now leads its series against the Jackrabbits, 6-3, opens Big Sky Conference play next Saturday against Montana at 12 noon inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.