SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Coming off a split of its first two games, Cal Poly (1-1, 0-0 Big Sky) plays its final non-conference contest of 2021 and opens the home portion of its schedule Saturday by hosting Missouri Valley Football Conference member South Dakota (1-1, 0-0 MVFC) inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium (cap.: 11,075).
Kickoff is set for 5:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio (1280 AM and 101.7 FM) with Zachary Anderson-Yoxsimer (play-by-play) and Stephan Hodges (analyst) calling the action. Pregame show starts at 6:30 p.m. Chris Sylvester (play-by-play) and John Kane (analyst) will have the call on ESPN+. Links for video and audio streams as well as live stats are available on the football schedule page at www.GoPoly.com.
The Beau Baldwin Era at Cal Poly officially opened last spring, more than 15 months after he was named Cal Poly’s 17th head football coach on Dec. 11, 2019. The Mustangs fell 34-24 to Southern Utah at home and dropped a 73-24 decision at UC Davis and a 62-10 verdict at Eastern Washington.
The fall season opened victoriously, however, as sophomore quarterback Spencer Brasch completed 23 of 38 passes for 316 yards — the most by a Mustang signal caller in 12 years — and two touchdowns and redshirt freshman linebacker Elijah Ponder returned an interception 75 yards for the clinching score midway through the fourth quarter as Cal Poly defeated San Diego 28-17. The Mustangs elevated their series advantage over the Toreros to 7-1.
Last week, Jaden Ohlsen kicked a 47-yard field goal and Brasch connected with Chris Coleman, running a crossing route from right to left, on a five-yard pass for a touchdown in a 63-10 loss at Fresno State. The Mustangs gave up 671 yards of total offense, punted 10 times and converted just four of 19 third-down plays as the Bulldogs extended their winning streak in the series to eight games.
Baldwin was head coach at Eastern Washington for nine seasons (2008-16) and was an assistant coach for the Eagles from 2003-06. An offensive coordinator at Cal for three years (2017-19) before coming to Cal Poly, Baldwin guided Eastern Washington to an 85-32 mark, five Big Sky titles and six FCS playoff berths, including the 2010 national championship.
South Dakota opened its season with a 17-14 loss at Big 12 member Kansas and evened its mark by defeating Northern Arizona 34-7, sprinting to a 27-0 lead by halftime. Kansas scored a touchdown with 1:12 to play to snap a 13-game losing streak and end the Coyotes’ upset hopes. Against the Lumberjacks from the Big Sky, quarterback Carson Camp completed 15 of 24 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown while Travis Theis scored twice and netted 74 yards on 12 rushes as the Coyotes scored on their first three possessions and coasted to the win.Sixth-year head coach Bob Nielson (23-30, Wartburg College ‘82), who guided the Coyotes to a 1-3 mark in an abbreviated schedule last spring, welcomed back 47 lettermen, including 24 starters. Leading the group of returning veterans are Camp (82 of 130 passes, 967 yards, three touchdowns in four games last spring), wide receiver Caleb VanderEsch (23 receptions, 273 yards, one TD) and linebackers Jack Cochrane (28 tackles, two quarterback hurries) and Brock Mogensen (team-leading 38 tackles).
In two games this season, Camp has completed 54 percent of his pass attempts (25 of 46) for 311 yards and one touchdown. Carter Bell has caught seven passes for 75 yards. Theis has netted 170 yards on 30 rushes so far, three for touchdowns, and Cochrane leads the Coyotes defensively with 22 tackles, including 3.5 for lost yardage. Linebacker Jonathan Joanis returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown against Northern Arizona last week.
Cal Poly fans are anticipating major changes, particularly on offense, with Baldwin at the helm. The Triple Option is gone and the new offensive package likely will result in three or four wide receivers on most plays with one running back instead of two slotbacks, a fullback and a pair of receivers in the old Triple Option formation.
Baldwin and his staff welcomed 48 returning lettermen to Fall Camp in August, including 23 on offense, 21 on defense and four specialists on special teams. The returnees include 26 players who started at least one game during the shortened spring season -- 13 on both offense and defense.
Also on the fall roster are 31 players who were redshirts last spring or injured, and almost 40 newcomers, including up to eight transfers from other four-year schools.
The group of veterans includes seven seniors who opted out of the second half of the spring schedule in order to preserve one final full season of eligibility this fall. They include linebackers Matt Shotwell and Lance Vecchio along with running backs Lepi Lataimua and Chuby Dunu and tight ends Nick White and Quentin Harrison. Defensive back Freddie Gaines, a member of the 2019 Big Sky Conference Football Community Service Team, also returns for a sixth year.
Shotwell led the Mustangs in tackles for the third straight year last spring and has notched 228 career tackles, No. 17 on Cal Poly’s all-time career tackles list. Vecchio made 19 tackles, including a sack, last spring while Lataimua (143 rushing yards in three games last spring) and Dunu (100 yards) head the list of returning ball carriers.
Topping the depth chart at the three wide receiver positions are Chris Coleman at X, Xavier Moore at Z and Zedakiah Centers at F. Moore made three catches in the spring and caught a touchdown pass for Cal Poly's only points against Oregon State in 2019. Centers caught eight passes. Coleman is one of three Mustang transfers from Fresno State this fall. The others are tight end Micah Pasion and defensive end Emeka Ndoh. Coleman and Ndoh are Bulldog graduates while Pasion is a sophomore.
Harrison, who led the team with 10 catches, two for touchdowns, last spring has moved to the tight end spot while Michael Roth has switched from tight end to wide receiver after making four catches in the spring.
Brasch, winning a six-man battle for the starting nod at quarterback during Fall Camp, is a transfer from Cal, where he played two games in 2019 against Utah and Oregon State, after completing 359 of 602 passes for 5,522 yards with 78 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions over his final two prep seasons at Higley High School in Gilbert, Ariz. Brasch’s chief challengers for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart were freshman Kahliq Paulette from Converse, Texas, and junior Conor Bruce.
At running back, Duy Tran-Sampson, Mark Biggins and CJ Cole all suffered injuries in last spring's shortened season. Tran-Sampson, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2019, and Cole, a Santa Maria St. Joseph High School graduate who was a 1,000-yard rusher as a senior and caught 64 passes as a junior, have retired from football due to their injuries. Biggins is back for his sophomore season.
Xavier Oliphant, Dawson Hurst and Julian Reed head a young group of players at the cornerback position. The offensive line features veterans Wade Willet (left guard), D.J. Stuckey (right guard) and Nicolo DiFronzo (center) while San Luis Obispo High School graduate Charles Lincoln figures to fill the open spot at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Austin Anderson is No. 1 on the depth chart at left tackle.
Bob Nielson was introduced as the 30th head coach in the history of University of South Dakota football in December of 2015. It is the sixth head coaching stint for Nielson, who has enjoyed success at every level of college football. He is a three-time national coach of the year recipient, a two-time national champion head coach, and was Missouri Valley Football Conference Coach of the Year in 2015. The 2021 fall season is the 29th for Nielson as a head coach.
After eight years as an assistant coach at Wartburg, Nielson has served as head coach at Ripon (1989-90), Wartburg (1991-95), Wisconsin-Eau Claire (1996-98), Minnesota-Duluth (1999-2012), Western Illinois (2013-15) and South Dakota (2016-Present), compiling a 209-110-1 overall record to date.
North Dakota claimed 10 North Central Conference titles from 1922 through 2007 before elevating its program to Division I in 2008 and joining the Great West Football Conference. After four seasons, the Coyotes moved to the Missouri Valley Football Conference prior to the 2012 campaign. South Dakota was a finalist in the 1986 NCAA Division II playoffs and is in its 124th season of football, compiling a 540-532-36 record so far.
Cal Poly leads South Dakota 3-1 in the series, all four games played between 2008-11 when the two schools were Great West Football Conference members. A 44-yard punt return by Greg Francis set up a game-winning 39-yard field goal by James Langford with 36 seconds left as Cal Poly rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to upset then-No. 17 South Dakota 27-24 in the last meeting between the two schools in 2011. The victory clinched a share of the Great West title for the Mustangs. Jake Romanelli rushed for 88 yards on 20 carries, Andre Broadous completed 13 of 22 passes for 117 yards and one score and his favorite target was Romanelli with four catches for 29 yards.
Baldwin is 0-1 against South Dakota (a 30-17 loss in 2011 at Vermillion, S.D.) while Nielson is coaching against Cal Poly for the first time.
Two games into the 2021 fall season, Brasch has completed 41 of 71 passes (58 percent) for 528 yards and three touchdowns. Coleman leads all Mustang receivers with eight catches for 139 yards and two scores. Shotwell has 18 tackles, Judaea Moon 16 and Aaron Cooper 14. All are linebackers.
Cal Poly, which captured the 2012 Big Sky title in its first year in the conference, claimed four Great West Conference titles in the eight-year history of the league (2004, 2005, 2008, 2011) and has earned NCAA Division I FCS playoff berths in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Next week, Cal Poly opens Big Sky Conference play at Montana on Sept. 25, with kickoff inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium set for noon Pacific.
- Eric Burdick, Assistant Athletics Director for Athletics Communications
Cal Poly Finishes Tied for Second Place in Hobble Creek Fall Classic
SPRINGFIELD, Utah -- The Cal Poly women's golf team moved up one spot in the team standings, but couldn't catch Gonzaga in the final round of the Hobble Creek Fall Classic on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs scored the best round of the two-day tournament with a two-over-par 286 total on the 6,135-yard par-71 Hobble Creek Golf Course, stretching a five-stroke second-round lead to a 12-stroke victory over coach Sofie Aagaard's Mustangs and Weber State, which shared second place.
Cal Poly tallied a final-round four-person 293 total while weber State checked in with a 290 as both teams compiled 31-over-par 883 aggregates. Boise State, which was second entering the final round, slipped to fourth with a round of 301 and an 890 total.
The Mustangs were led by a pair of freshmen in the season-opening tournament.
Kaylyn Noh, a graduate of Rocklin High School, carded a final-round 69 and finished with a two-over-par 215 total for fourth place while Kamille Dimayuga added a 74 for a 218 total and a tie for eighth place with two other golfers.
Noh's round of 69 included her second eagle of the tournament. After her eagle in Monday's first round on the 480-yard ninth hole, she eagled the 450-yard 13th hole Tuesday. Also on her card were four birdies and a pair of bogeys.
Individual honors went to Kimberlee Tottori of Northern Arizona with an even-par 213 total and a one-stroke victory over second-round leader Chaewon Baek of Gonzaga and Taitum Beck of Weber State, who shot a 69 to climb from sixth place.
Cal Poly's other scoring golfers were Vanessa Wang with a final-round 75 for a 225 total and 23rd place and Nicole Neale with a 75 as well for a 226 aggregate and 26th place. Carissa Wu checked in with a 76 for a 229 total and 36th place.
Dimayuga finished seventh in par-4 scoring at four over par while Noh was the best in the field on the par-5 holes at 11 under par. Dimayuga was second in par-5 scoring at eight under par.
Noh's 13 birdies beat the rest of the field by at least three strokes.
Cal Poly will compete in the Molly Collegiate Invitational on Sept. 27-28 at the Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Club in Seaside, Calif.
- Eric Burdick, Assistant Athletics Director for Athletics Communications
Cal Poly Preparing For Home-and-Home Against LMU This Week
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The Cal Poly volleyball team will play its final two matches of non-conference play this week with a home-and-home series against Loyola Marymount University.
The Mustangs (2-7) will travel to Los Angeles on Thursday to take on the Lions (7-1) at 5 p.m. inside Gersten Pavilion. They will then host LMU on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Mott Athletics Center.
Saturday’s home match is the first ‘Double Up Saturday’ of the year. Fans who show their ticket to the Cal Poly football game against South Dakota which starts at 5 p.m. that day get in to volleyball for free.
Thursday’s match at LMU will be live streamed on the WCC Network. Saturday’s home match will also be live video and audio streamed. Links for all these can be found on the volleyball schedule page.
The Mustangs are seeking both their first road and home wins of the season this week. They are 0-3 in road matches and 0-1 in home matches. Their loss at home to Texas A&M on September 1 was the first since October 28, 2016 and ended a streak of 32 consecutive wins at home which had been the nation’s longest active streak.
Cal Poly is coming off a pair of losses to two Top 25 teams last weekend. On Saturday, the Mustangs fell to No. 9 Washington 3-1, a team that made the final four last season. They then lost a five-set heartbreaker on Sunday to No. 22 Pepperdine 3-2. In both matches, the Mustangs were led in kills by redshirt senior outside hitter Jamie Stivers. Stivers had a double-double of 12 kills and 12 digs against the Huskies. She followed that performance up by tying her career-high with 17 kills and seven digs against the Waves.
So far this season, Stivers leads the team in kills at 2.91 per set while hitting .246 and averaging 2.47. Leading the way defensively this season has been junior middle blocker Meredith Phillips and freshman libero Peyton Dueck. Phillips is averaging a team-leading 1.12 blocks per set to go with 2.38 kills per set. Dueck leads the team in digs at 4.16 per set as well as service aces with 11. Junior setter Avalon DeNecochea has 293 assists this season (9.16 per set) which ranks 69th in the nation.
LMU is 7-1 this year and has won their last seven matches after losing their opening match of the season to No. 8 Purdue. They are coming off winning the Liberty Tournament over the weekend with wins over Old Dominion, Navy, and Liberty. Thursday’s match against the Mustangs will be their first at home this season while on the road they are 2-1 so far. The Lions have been led by 6-5 freshman outside hitter Kari Geissberger who is averaging 4.79 kills per set, which ranks seventh in the nation, while hitting .302 to go with 1.59 digs per set and .97 blocks per set.
Cal Poly is 9-4 all-time against LMU. The Mustangs won the last matchup 3-2 on August 31, 2018 at a tournament in Logan, Utah.
Following this week’s final non-conference matches, Cal Poly will open Big West Conference play on the road against Long Beach State on Friday, September 24 followed by an away match at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, September 25.
- Connor Leary, Cal Poly Athletics Communications