Saturday, November 26, 2016

Toreros stun Cal Poly, earns first playoff win in school history

Photo Credit: Screenshot from ESPN 3's live broadcast.

San Luis Obispo, CA (11/26/2016) Jonah Hodges rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns to help propel the University of San Diego Toreros (10-1, 8-0 PFL) to a 35-21 victory over the Cal Poly Mustangs (7-4) in the first round of the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs.

With the win, the Toreros advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in program history, where they'll take on the five-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State Bison (10-1) in Fargo, North Dakota.

USD also becomes the first Pioneer Football League member to earn an FCS playoff win since the league's champion was granted an auto-bid in 2013.

The Toreros drew first blood with a five-play, 73-yard drive that was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown run by Hodges.

After USD regained possession, Anthony Lawrence found Justin Priest open in the end zone on the first play from scrimmage, giving the Toreros a 14-0 lead with 6:42 left in the first quarter.

Cal Poly would answer back with 1:23 left in the half. A seven-yard run from running back Joe Protheroe cut the Torero lead to 14-7 going into halftime.

After opening the second half with an 85-yard kickoff return from J.J. Koski, Cal Poly tied the score 14-14 with another touchdown run from Protheroe.

Hodges found the end zone once again on a seven-yard run, helping USD regain the lead with 8:22 left in the third quarter.

Following a huge defensive stop on 4th-and-2 from the Toreros' 24-yard line, Lawrence connected with Brian Riley (6 catches for 100 yards & 1 TD) for a 5-yard score, extending USD’s lead to 28-14 with 13:09 left to play.

A 63-yard pick-six by Cal Poly defensive end Kelly Shepard cut the score to 28-21 with 8:07 remaining in the game and the Mustangs managed to force a 3-and-out to regain possession.

With Cal Poly threatening to tie the game,  Spencer Hammitt recovered a Protheroe fumble near midfield, setting up the drive that led to a five-yard touchdown run from Hodges, his third of the game.

Putting a bow on an outstanding defensive showing, Alec Moreno recovered Jonathan Petersen's forced fumble on Cal Poly's final possession to seal the historic victory.

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