SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Senior fullback Joe Protheroe rushed for a career-high 260 yards, set a Cal Poly record for yards rushing in a single season and scored a touchdown as the Mustangs celebrated Homecoming by upsetting No. 24 Idaho State 37-14 in a Big Sky Conference football game Saturday afternoon in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Senior linebacker Anders Turner (pictured above) scooped up an Idaho State fumble and ran 40 yards for a touchdown and cornerback Dominic Frasch, also a senior, forced a fumble, intercepted a pass, broke up four other Bengal passes and recorded seven tackles as Cal Poly improved to 4-6 for the season and 3-4 in Big Sky games.
Idaho State, averaging 524 yards in total offense per game entering Saturday's contest, was held to 367 yards and turned the ball over four times -- two interceptions and a pair of lost fumbles -- in falling to 6-4 and 5-2.
Protheroe surpassed the single-season mark of 1,578 yards set by James Noble in 2005 as he now has 1,627 yards with one more game to play. He also is within reach of the career mark of 4,205 yards set by Craig Young from 1996-99 as the Water Payton Award candidate has 4,088 yards and needs just 118 to break the mark.
Protheroe has surpassed the 100-yard mark in eight consecutive games this season and has rushed beyond the 200-yard mark four times this year and five for his career, including three straight games. He has 22 career 100-yard games, another school record.
Protheroe produced the 25th 200-yard game all-time at Cal Poly and the fourth-best total. Young holds the mark of 283 yards against Saint Mary's in 1996.
Protheroe (pictured at left), who carried the ball 41 times, two shy of his career high, scored on a one-yard run late in the second quarter, giving Cal Poly the lead for good at 13-7. The Mustangs added three touchdowns and a field goal in the second half to win going away.
Junior wide receiver J.J. Koski scored twice for the Mustangs, catching a 36-yard pass from Khaleel Jenkins early in the third quarter and running 28 yards on a reverse with 4:31 to play to clinch the victory for Cal Poly.
Turner's fumble recovery and run for a touchdown was Cal Poly's first since Kenny Jackson scampered 32 yards for a score against Dixie State in 2009. It also was the first score by the Mustang defense since Kelly Shepard's interception return against San Diego in the 2016 FCS playoffs.
Senior Alex Vega kicked a career-high three field goals spanning 31, 23 and 29 yards for the Mustangs. Vega is 10 of 11 in field goals this year.
Idaho State's only scores were an 11-yard pass from Tanner Gueller to Michael Dean in the second quarter and a 28-yard run by Ty Flanagan midway through the third period.
Cal Poly produced advantages of 22-19 in first downs, 465 to 367 in total offense and 36:49 to 23:11 in time of possession. The Mustangs, among the leaders in the FCS in third-down conversion, was successful eight of 16 times Saturday while the Bengals were just three of 11, and Cal Poly, which led the nation in lost fumbles with 15 entering the game, did not fumble the ball once Saturday.
Jenkins was six of eight passing for 91 yards and one score. Koski caught three passes and Protheroe two.
Flanagan finished with 86 yards on 10 carries and James Madison added 73 yards on 14 trips for Idaho State. Gueller was 21 of 36 for 200 yards and one score and his favorite target was Dean with five receptions for 30 yards.
Sophomore linebacker Matt Shotwell made nine tackles and Jayson Lee, back in the lineup for the first time since the Montana game Sept. 29, added eight stops and forced a fumble. Turner and Jerek Rosales recovered Idaho State fumbles and Kevin Howell intercepted Gueller late in the second quarter.
Aren Manu corralled 14 tackles and Christian Holland added 13 for Idaho State.
Cal Poly beat a ranked opponent for the first time since a 42-41 triumph over No. 6 Montana late in September 2016.
Idaho State was ranked for the first time since 2015. The Bengals are 4-0 at home this season but 2-4 on the road. With Saturday's win, the Mustangs have won five straight games at home against Idaho State and now hold a 14-8 advantage in the series. Idaho State was held to its lowest point total of the season by the Mustangs' defense.
Cal Poly wraps up its 2018 season next Saturday on Senior Day, hosting Southern Utah at 4:05 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The Thunderbirds are 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the Big Sky following a 31-18 loss to Weber State on Saturday.
Photos courtesy of Owen Main | www.fansmanship.com