CEDAR CITY, Utah – Southern Utah scored 17 points in the first 18 minutes of the game and held on to defeat Cal Poly 20-14 in a Big Sky Conference football game Saturday night before a record crowd of 10,633 inside Eccles Coliseum.
Trailing 20-7 midway through the fourth quarter, Cal Poly rallied with a five-yard touchdown run by Broc Mortensen with 4:46 to play and got the ball back with 2:51 to go, but after picking up a pair of first downs and moving the ball into Southern Utah territory, the Mustang drive stalled.
With the loss, Cal Poly falls to 0-6 on the year and 0-3 in Big Sky games. Southern Utah improves to 3-2 and 1-1.
The loss spoiled the debut of redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Jeffrey (pictured above), who replaced injured starter Khaleel Jenkins and completed 11 of 21 passes for 137 yards. Senior fullback Jared Mohamed set new career highs with 142 yards on 30 carries.
After Southern Utah took an early 3-0 lead on a 26-yard field goal by Manny Berz, Cal Poly answered just 20 seconds later on a 73-yard touchdown run around right end by senior slot back Kyle Lewis.
The 7-3 Mustang lead was short-lived as Southern Utah drove 75 yards on just six plays for the go-ahead score. Jay Green broke off a 55-yard run for the touchdown and a 10-7 Thunderbird lead with 4:36 left in the opening quarter.
The only score of the second period also was produced by Southern Utah. Terrance Beasley caught a 26-yard scoring pass from Patrick Tyler with 12:37 to go, giving the Thunderbirds a 17-7 advantage.
Southern Utah almost scored again late in the period. On first and goal from the 1-yard line, Green fumbled and Mustang safety Kitu Humphrey recovered for Cal Poly with 55 seconds to play.
After a scoreless third quarter, Southern Utah stretched its lead to 20-7 with a 38-yard field goal by Berz.
Cal Poly closed the gap to six with Mortensen's five-yard scoring run, but couldn't get the go-ahead score.
Cal Poly accumulated just eight first downs until the final seven minutes, finishing with 15. The Mustangs rushed for 226 yards and passed for 137 more for 363 yards in total offense, just 20 fewer than Southern Utah.
Thunderbird quarterback Patrick Tyler completed 23 of 30 passes for 223 yards and one score. Green finished with 80 yards on the ground and James Felila added 50.
Cal Poly was slowed by a season-high 11 penalties, converted just four of 15 third-down plays and twice lost fumbles.
Defensive leaders for Cal Poly were Mason Montgomery and Darren Adjei with 10 tackles each, Mark Reza with his first Mustang interception and Kitu Humphrey with a fumble recovery. Cornerback B.J. Nard notched two of Cal Poly's three sacks and Adjey had 3.5 tackles for lost yardage.
Cal Poly has lost six straight for the first time since the 1965 squad lost its final six games of the year.
The Mustangs have a bye next week, returning home to host Weber State on Saturday, Oct. 21. The 6:05 p.m. kickoff is on Mustang Family Weekend.