After going in the wrong direction over the past few weeks, the Cal Poly soccer team ended its 2022 season with a win on Saturday night.
Spencer Brasch jumped 414 yards and four touchdowns, both career highs, and Troy Fletcher ran 14 yards at center for the victory point with 47 seconds left as Cal Poly thwarted a 49-42 excitement at Cal Poly in a Big Sky Portland State scored the conference game that was the season finale for both teams.
Three plays after Fletcher’s touchdown run, Cal Poly linebacker David Meyer intercepted Portland State quarterback Nathan West with 19 seconds left, sealing the win for Cal Poly.
The Mustangs went on an eight-game losing streak, finishing 2-9, 1-7. The Vikings ended 4-7, 3-5.
Before upending the Vikings, the Mustangs had been outplayed in their previous three games with a 188-45 aggregate score.
Brasch and Meyer were named Big Sky Conference Players of the Week. Meyer was Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week. Brasch shared the honor of offensive player of the week with Montana State quarterback Tommy Mellott.
Meyer led Cal Poly’s defense with 11 tackles barring a timely interception. The Conference Player of the Week award initially went to Brasch and Meyer.
West was Portland State’s backup quarterback. Vikings starter Dante Chachere completed six of 14 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, a 65-yard pass to Beau Kelly, and rushed 137 yards on just seven carries, including a 76-yard scoring run, before he left the game with an injury at the end of the second quarter.
All year Cal Poly struggled to fall behind and the Mustangs discovered the Vikings’ early deficits of 14-0 and 21-14. This time, however, the Mustangs rallied behind Brasch’s four touchdown passes, a 33-yard interception return by freshman defenseman Brian Dukes, and Fletcher’s run to the winning touchdown to take the win.
After falling behind early on, the Mustangs led 35-21, 42-28 before the Vikings rallied to level it. West connected the game with a 36-yard run down the right touchline with 2:53 left.
The kickoff that followed was a touchback, but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty against the Vikings put the ball on the Cal Poly 40. The Mustangs drove 60 yards in seven games for the tie score.
Paul Holyfield gave the Mustangs a 42-28 lead with a 12-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter before the Vikings leveled the game. Holyfield finished with 59 yards on eight carries. Fletcher added 47 yards on 11 carries.
Brasch completed three of his four passes on the drive, including a 21-yarder to Zedakiah Centers who set up the 14-yard Fletcher touchdown run.
Brasch hit Chris Coleman with a 30-yard touchdown pass, Giancarlo Woods with a 33-yarder, and centers with scoring passes from five and 64 yards as the Mustangs extended their 35-21 lead.
Quincy Craig rushed for 107 yards on 18 carries for Portland State, and West had 94 yards on 12 carries. Mataio Talalemoto caught six passes for 54 yards for the Vikings.
Portland State passed Cal Poly by 574 yards at 482 yards and had the ball 36:13 to 23:47 for the Mustangs.
Dukes made nine stops along with his interception.
The Mustangs didn’t turn the ball over. The two interceptions both accounted for Vikings turnover. In the second quarter, Cal Poly scored 28 points in a single quarter for the first time since the 28 points the Mustangs scored in the first in a 70-14 win over Idaho State on October 20, 2012.
Sacramento State and Montana State both earned a share of the Big Sky Championship. Sacramento State defeated UC Davis 27-21 in the Causeway Classic at Sacramento State’s Hornet Field Saturday and Montana State defeated Montana 55-21 in the Brawl of the Wild in Bozeman. The Hornets and Bobcats each finished the conference games 8-0.
Kenny Cress is a sports reporter for the Santa Maria Times, covering local sports in northern Santa Barbara County. You can send him information or story ideas by emailing them to [email protected]