On Senior Day, senior quarterback Khaleel Jenkins passed for a career-high five touchdowns and senior fullback Joe Protheroe smashed the school record for career rushing yards as Cal Poly wrapped up its 2018 season with a 38-24 Big Sky Conference victory over Southern Utah on Saturday inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Jenkins completed nine of 13 passes for 196 yards and surpassed his former career high of four touchdown passes set against Northern Iowa in 2017. He hit J.J. Koski and Quentin Harrison twice on scoring passes and Malcolm Davis with another.
Protheroe earned his ninth straight 100-yard game and his 23rd career contest over the century mark with 183 yards on 34 carries, surpassing the career rushing mark of 4,205 set by Craig Young (1996-99) with a 24-yard run early in the third quarter.
Protheroe finished his career with 1,810 yards for the season and 4,271 yards in his five-year stay at Cal Poly. His season total is the most in the Big Sky since Cal Poly joined the conference in 2012.
With the win, Cal Poly’s second in a row for the first time this season, the Mustangs improved to 5-6 on the year, a four-win improvement over last season’s 1-10 mark. Cal Poly finished sixth in the Big Sky at 4-4.
Southern Utah, co-champion of the Big Sky a year ago, fell to 1-10 and 1-7.
The visiting Thunderbirds jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first 14 minutes of the game before Cal Poly mounted its comeback. Karris Davis ran 28 yards for the first score and Tyler Skidmore hit McCoy Hill with a nine-yard touchdown pass.
Koski’s first touchdown catch covering 46 yards and a 32-yard scoring reception by Malcolm Davis knotted the score at 14-14 midway through the second period.
Each team scored another touchdown before the break, leaving the game tied at 21-21. Jay Green scored on a one-yard run for Southern Utah and Koski’s 56-yard touchdown catch knotted the game a second time just before halftime.
Cal Poly outscored Southern Utah 17-3 in the second half to secure the victory.
Both Mustang touchdowns were passes from Jenkins to Harrison covering eight and 31 yards. The latter was a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone for the final touchdown of the game.
Alex Vega contributed a 37-yard field goal for Cal Poly, which was answered by a 20-yard Manny Berz field goal for Southern Utah.
Cal Poly finished with a 503-450 advantage in total offense and 31:47 to 28:13 in time of possession. The Mustangs, among the nation’s leaders in time of possession and third-down conversions, converted nine of 13 third downs to finish the season 95 of 189 (51 percent).
Koski was Cal Poly’s top receiver with four catches for 109 yards, finishing as the top Mustang receiver for the second straight year.
Skidmore was 26 of 38 for 260 yards and one score for Southern Utah. Hill was his favorite target with six receptions for 61 yards.
Linebacker Matt Shotwell notched a career-high 16 tackles for Cal Poly and Nik Navarro and Kitu Humphrey each added 10 stops. Two of Navarro’s tackles were sacks, giving him the team lead for the year with five. Dominic Frasch, the nation’s leader in passes defended, broke up three passes Saturday.
Taylor Nelson (16 tackles) and Quaid Murray (13) led Southern Utah defensively. There were no turnovers in the game.
Cal Poly has beaten Southern Utah 15 straight times in San Luis Obispo and holds a 20-9 advantage in the series.
–Provided by Cal Poly