‘It was amazing’: Football wins thriller 28-27 over San Diego in home opener
A game-winning touchdown pass from Jaden Jones to Chris Coleman and a trio of interceptions lifted Cal Poly to a 28-27 victory in their home opener against the University of San Diego on Saturday, September 10 at Inside the Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
The Mustangs (1-1) lost big early on, but they recovered their way to win over the Toreros (1-1) in front of the home crowd.
Alex G. Spanos Stadium was bustling for the home opener as students, families and alumni filled the stands.
“I appreciate these fans so much,” said head coach Beau Baldwin. “We don’t even have any students on campus yet, but you could feel the energy and the noise. I thank the Mustang Nation for that.
After both teams fell short in their respective first practices, the Toreros broke the scoreless tie in a tricky fashion.
With 7:40 remaining in the first quarter, San Diego quarterback Judd Erickson threw a fullback to fellow quarterback Re-al Mitchell, who then unloaded on a 43-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Lawson for the score. The double pass and subsequent extra point gave the Toreros a 7-0 advantage.
On their next practice, the Mustangs appeared to have found the big play they needed as redshirt freshman quarterback Jones found freshman tight end Tyrece Fairly-Diyem in midfield. for a gain of 40 yards. However, late in the game, the ball was knocked out of Fairly-Diyem’s arms and San Diego recovered to regain possession.
The game then slowed down a bit as there were three punts in a row before Jones gave up Cal Poly’s second fumble of the day to return the ball to the San Diego offense in the red zone. .
The Toreros were able to capitalize on that turnover with a field goal, extending their lead to 10-0 with 8:12 to go in the first half.
After a nine-game practice for the Mustangs that ended in a turnover on the downs, San Diego took advantage of a hit-the-kicker penalty and a facemask against Cal Poly to add to their advantage. , again with a turn. .
With 2:03 left in the half, quarterbacks Erickson and Mitchell were back. Erickson took the snap, handed it to Mitchell and, as the defense’s attention turned to Mitchell, he threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Erickson in the end zone to take the lead 17-0.
For the first time in the entire game, the Mustang offense responded with a touchdown that lasted just 58 seconds. In those 58 seconds, Jones led the offense on a six-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a 42-yard touchdown reception by redshirt freshman tight end Josh Cuevas.
Cal Poly picked up that momentum in the locker room at halftime 17-7.
Coming out of halftime, Mustang’s offense remained hot with a seven-play drive punctuated by a 41-yard touchdown connection between Jones and Fairly-Diyem to cut San Diego’s lead to 17-14 . On the success later in the game, Jones mentioned the need to settle into the game.
“We just had to play our game,” Jones said. “We were excited for the home opener, but as soon as we settled in and played the game in the game, that’s when we started to shake things up. Self-confidence is what leads to success. »
The two teams then struggled for the majority of the third quarter, alternating punts until the Toreros went up the board with their own 40-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead to 24-14 with only seven seconds left in the third quarter. .
Cal Poly’s offense couldn’t do anything in their next practice, and San Diego set up for another score with a big punt return that got them to the Cal Poly eight-yard line to start. training.
However, Mustang’s defense remained strong and held the Toreros to the basket to extend their lead to 27-14.
With just 12 minutes left, Jones and the offense had a 14-play run with an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior redshirt tight end Ryan Rivera, once again taking the lead at 27- 21.
The very next ride, San Diego was looking to put the Mustangs away for good, and they were getting help. A pair of 15-yard penalties by Cal Poly and a strong running game allowed the Toreros to score a first-and-a-half from the Mustang five-yard line.
With just over five minutes left in the game, San Diego elected to fade a pass into the back corner of the end zone, and it was intercepted by freshman defensive back Jay’vion Cole, tipping the momentum completely in favor of the Mustangs.
With three touchdowns already under his belt, Jones entered the field with 5:15 left and a chance to take the lead after Cal Poly led 17-0 earlier in the game.
Mustang’s attack began to spread down the field, Jones leading the way with his arm and legs. With two and a half minutes remaining, the freshman starter backed up and threw a pass down the right sideline, finding Chris Coleman’s hands in the end zone.
“When I saw the ball in the air, I said ‘yeah, that’s me,'” Coleman said. “I had been beating him all day and it was almost a calm feeling like ‘we’re going to score now’. There was no pressure at all, we practice this all the time. I was put in this position several times and I was glad I was able to get out of it.
With the game-winning touchdown, Mustang fans at Alex G. Spanos Stadium erupted. When sophomore kicker Jaden Ohlsen scored the extra run to take a 28-27 lead, that same crowd breathed a sigh of relief.
“It was unbelievable, I was on the ground after being hit,” Jones said. “All I could see was the crowd going crazy and that’s the sound you want to hear in offense.”
The game was far from over, as the Toreros won the ball on their own 35-yard line with 2:20 to go. After a pair of misses and a five-yard catch, San Diego’s offense faced a fourth-and-five with the game on the line.
As Torero quarterback Judd Erickson took a step back and threw his pass, freshman defensive back Brian Dukes came forward and grabbed the interception, sending the Alex G. Spanos crowd into another frenzy .
After the Mustangs attempted to run out the ball short of the final whistle, San Diego found themselves with the ball once again with 23 seconds left.
However, it was Jay’vion Cole who once again intercepted the pass to claim the 28-27 victory and send the fans home happy.
“It says a lot to see two freshmen come up with three picks,” Coach Baldwin said. “Choices are games where all 11 guys are involved.”
Jones completed 26 of 41 passes, racking up 383 passing yards and four passing touchdowns to go with 24 rushing yards. Coleman, meanwhile, had nine receptions for 94 yards and the game-winning TD. On the ground, the redshirt junior running back had 54 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
After the win, Coach Baldwin emphasized his belief that the team has more room to grow this season as it continues to get some action.
“We’re going to come together, especially offensively and I thought we started to find something late in the first half,” coach Baldwin said. “We have to figure out who we are and what we’re going to do, and sometimes you have to play games to really feel that, especially with younger players.”
The Mustangs will be looking for back-to-back wins over South Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. at the DakotaDome.