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Despite statistical advantages, Cal Poly falls to Nos. 17/18 Montana, 48-28

Posted at 8:26 PM, Sep 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-01 01:58:57-04

Cal Poly produced a pair of 100-yard rushers and compiled advantages of 512-468 in total offense, 32-18 in first downs and over 16 minutes in time of possession.

Montana, however, won the battle on the scoreboard as the No. 17/18 Grizzlies outscored the Mustangs 48-28 in a Big Sky Conference football game Saturday afternoon inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

Senior fullback Joe Protheroe earned his 17th career 100-yard game – third in a row – with 139 yards on 35 carries, scoring three touchdowns in a game for the second time in three weeks.

Sophomore slot back Drew Hernandez exploded for 135 yards on just 14 trips, averaging 9.6 yards per carry, giving Cal Poly two 100-yard rushers in a game for the first time since the Northern Iowa contest early in the 2017 season and for the 22nd time in the last eight campaigns.

Montana took advantage of two costly Cal Poly turnovers, both lost fumbles, and stopped the Mustangs three times on fourth-and-short to claim the victory.

The Grizzlies (4-1, 2-0 Big Sky) jumped to a 31-7 lead in the opening 30 minutes of play and Cal Poly could pull no closer than 17 points down the stretch, falling to 1-4 and 0-2 for the year.

Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed completed 23 of 32 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Grizzlies offensively. Adam Eastwood ran for 132 yards on 16 carries and a pair of touchdowns.

Mustang signal caller Khaleel Jenkins connected on seven of nine passes for 82 yards and his favorite target was J.J. Koski with four catches for 58 yards.

Tim Semenza opened the game with a 34-yard field goal and Montana added four touchdowns, including an 80-yard fumble recovery and run by Josh Buss and a six-yard pass from Sneed to Gabe Sulser after a Mustang fumble on a punt return.

Sneed also hit Samuel Akem with a 54-yard scoring pass and with Matt Rensvold on an eight-yarder to close out the first half with a 31-7 advantage.

Cal Poly’s only score of the first half was a seven-yard run by Protheroe with 10:04 left in the second quarter. He added scoring runs of two and four yards in the second half and Jenkins plunged one yard for the other Mustang touchdown.

Linebacker Dante Olson earned 24 tackles, four shy of the Big Sky record, and notched 12 solo and 12 assisted stops. Robby Hauck, son of Griz head coach Bobby Hauck, added 17 tackles, while Gavin Robertson and Josh Sandry each had 10.

Junior free safety Carter Nichols garnered his second career interception and led Cal Poly’s defense in tackles with seven.

Cal Poly resumes Big Sky play next Saturday at Sacramento State.

-Provided by Cal Poly