FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Senior fullback Joe Protheroe surged past the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his Cal Poly football career and senior quarterback Khaleel Jenkins ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more as the Mustangs defeated Northern Arizona 38-28 on Saturday inside the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome.
Protheroe rushed for 217 yards on 39 carries, joining an elite Mustang club of five former players who twice rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season. Protheroe, who scored once on a one-yard dive, raised his total for the 2018 campaign to 1,152 yards and for his career to 3,613, still No. 4 on the all-time Mustang list but just 65 yards behind No. 3 James Noble.
Jenkins completed just three of eight passes, but two of his completions resulted in 38-yard touchdowns to Quentin Harrison and J.J. Koski and the third was a 22-yarder to Koski that set up another Mustang score.
Jenkins also rushed for 103 yards, scoring on runs of 12 and one yards, as Cal Poly improved to 3-5 for the season and 2-3 in Big Sky Conference games.
Northern Arizona, which has used four starters at quarterback this season, fell to 3-5 and 2-3.
The Lumberjacks staged a furious rally from a 38-7 deficit in the final 16 minutes of the game before senior cornerback Dominic Frasch (pictured above) intercepted a pass at the one-yard line to preserve the victory for Cal Poly.
Cal Poly has beaten Northern Arizona just twice in 13 meetings. Both wins were in Flagstaff. The first victory clinched for the Mustangs the Big Sky title in 2012.
Northern Arizona scored first on a seven-yard run by Joe Logan late in the first quarter. Cal Poly then scored the next 38 points of the game, three touchdowns on runs and two via the pass plus a 37-yard field goal by Alex Vega.
Jenkins ran 12 yards for the first Mustang score, then hit Harrison and Koski with 38-yard touchdown passes, Cal Poly's first two touchdowns through the air this season. Protheroe's one-yard run capped a 28-point second quarter for Cal Poly and a 28-7 halftime lead.
Vega's field goal and the one-yard run by Jenkins gave the Mustangs a 38-7 advantage midway through the third period.
Northern Arizona tried to climb back into the game with three touchdowns, a 20-yard pass from fourth-string quarterback Brandon Porter to Emmanuel Butler, a one-yard run by Jacob Mpungi and a five-yard run by Logan after a Mustang fumble, cutting Cal Poly's lead to 38-28 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Lumberjacks fired one more bullet, driving to the Cal Poly one-yard line before Frasch intercepted Porter at the 1 with 54 seconds left to clinch the victory for the Mustangs. It was Frasch's second interception of the season.
Cal Poly compiled a 441-418 advantage in total offense with 343 yards rushing and 98 yards passing. The Mustangs also had nearly a 10-minute advantage in time of possession.
Linebacker Matt Shotwell earned double-digit tackles for the fourth time this season, collecting 11 against the Lumberjacks. Myles notched two tackles for lost yardage and forced a fumble. Frasch had the lone interception of the game while Bradley Mickey and Anders Turner recovered Northern Arizona fumbles.
For Northern Arizona, Porter, listed as a freshman wide receiver on the roster, rushed for 115 yards out of the wildcat formation and completed two of eight passes for 24 yards. Starter Gino Campiotti was five of 10 passing for 38 yards. Logan finished with 103 yards on 16 carries. The Lumberjacks failed to produce a 100-yard rusher in their first seven games this season. Mpungi almost made it three Saturday, finishing with 98 yards on just nine carries.
Protheroe joined James Noble, Louis Jackson, Craig Young, Chris Brown and Antonio Warren as Mustangs with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons rushing.
Cal Poly plays its final road game next week, visiting Montana State in Bozeman on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Pacific.