SAN JOSE, Calif. – Montel Aaron relieved starter Josh Love early in the second quarter, threw three touchdown passes, and San Jose State turned two of Cal Poly's three lost fumbles into touchdowns en route to a 34-13 victory on a hot 107-degree Saturday afternoon in CEFCU Stadium.
Aaron threw scoring passes covering 18, 13 and 49 yards to help San Jose State (1-1) wipe out an early 6-0 Cal Poly (0-2) lead. Aaron completed 11 of 17 passes for 183 yards.
In addition to its 6-0 lead on a pair of 35-yard field goals by Casey Sublette, Cal Poly had other first-half scoring chances, but fumbled the ball away at the Spartan 2-yard line and Sublette was short on a 47-yard field goal attempt as the second quarter expired.
Still, Cal Poly was in the game with 13:37 left in the fourth quarter when sophomore quarterback Khaleel Jenkins capped a 44-yard, 12-play drive with a one-yard dive over right guard, cutting San Jose State's lead to 20-13.
But the Spartans scored two quick touchdowns in a nine-second span to put the game away.
Zamore Zigler, who amassed 121 yards on just 12 carries, scored on a 17-yard run with 7:50 to play and, nine seconds later, Jamal Scott scooped up a Mustang fumble and scampered 22 yards for another score.
"We just have to take care of the football," Mustang head coach Tim Walsh said. "It's unfortunate we're killing ourselves. We gave away touchdowns.
"Our defense, I thought, played their tails off. I thought they played extremely hard," Walsh added. "If we keep playing defense the way we are, and we keep playing special teams the way we are, sooner or later our offense will catch up. When they do, we'll be a pretty good football team, but right now, I don't think we're playing well on offense."
Senior fullback Jared Mohamed (pictured at right) fell three yards short of his second career 100-yard game, finishing with 97 yards on 22 carries. Mohamed replaced starter Joe Protheroe (pictured above) early in the second quarter after the Walter Payton Award candidate injured a knee.
Jenkins completed four of 10 passes for 37 yards and rushed 17 times for 44 yards and Cal Poly's only touchdown of the game.
The Mustangs accumulated just 233 yards of total offense, 196 on the ground, far short of the 343.5-yard average of a year ago. Cal Poly recorded just 13 first downs but for the second straight week held the ball on offense for over 33 minutes.
"You have got to stay together, to play together and to learn to win together," said Walsh. "It takes everybody to do it. And right now we're not playing very well or efficiently on offense."
San Jose State improves its record in its series against Cal Poly to 8-2. The Mustangs' only wins over the Spartans came in the late 1950s.
Linebacker Mason Montgomery made a career-high 17 tackles for Cal Poly and safety B.J. Nard added 10, including two for lost yardage. Dominic Frasch and Jack Ferguson recovered Spartan fumbles for the Mustangs.
Cal Poly completes non-conference play next Saturday at Northern Iowa.
Photos courtesy of Matt Aguirre