Colgate built a 20-0 lead in the first 40 minutes and held on to upset No. 23 Cal Poly 20-14 in a season-opening Week Zero college football game Saturday afternoon before 8,428 inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium and a national television audience on ESPNU.
James Holland (17 yards) and Alex Mathews (57 yards) both ran for touchdowns and Chris Puzzi added field goals of 27 and 35 yards for Colgate (1-0).
Cal Poly waited until the fourth quarter to get on the scoreboard. Joe Protheroe ran seven yards for the first Mustang score 38 seconds into the final period and Kyle Lewis caught a 16-yard scoring pass from Khaleel Jenkins with 7:07 to play, trimming Colgate’s lead to six points.
Cal Poly got the ball back with 5:35 to go and drove from its own 32-yard line to the Colgate 22. Included in the 46-yard march was a 21-yard pass from Jenkins to Jake Smeltzer on fourth and 13 with 1:28 to play, putting the ball at the Colgate 24.
But the Mustangs netted just two yards on the next four plays and Colgate was able to run the final 37 seconds off the clock. Protheroe finished with his 14th career 100-yard game, accumulating 139 yards on a career-high 39 carries.
In his second career start as the Mustangs’ signal caller, Jenkins completed six of 17 passes for 85 yards and rushed five times for 23 yards. Lewis, Smeltzer and J.J. Koski each caught two passes for Cal Poly.
Holland led all Colgate rushers with 91 yards on 20 carries and Mathews added 78 yards on just seven trips. Sophomore Carmine Scarfone completed eight of 15 passes for 94 yards in his first start for the Raiders.
Cal Poly had the edge in first downs, 15-9 – the Raiders did not gain a first down in the final 20 minutes of the game – and the Mustangs finished with a 295-250 advantage in total offense.
Cal Poly, however, averaged just 3.4 yards per rush and the Mustangs' 210 yards total for the game on the ground is well below the average of better than 340 yards per game over the last four seasons.
Colgate finished No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision against the rush a year ago, giving up just 69.4 yards a contest.
Cal Poly, also one of the nation’s leaders in fourth-down conversions a year ago, failed to convert on three of its first four fourth-down plays and finished four of eight.
Linebacker T.J. Holl compiled 16 tackles for Colgate. Cal Poly’s defensive leaders were linebacker R.J. Mazolewski with eight and safety B.J. Nard with seven. Sophomore safety Kitu Humphrey intercepted a pass for the Mustangs.
Cal Poly plays its second game of the 2017 season next Saturday at San Jose State.