POSTGAME REACTION: TIM WALSH | JAKE ROMANELLI
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Bo Levi Mitchell's run for two points in the third overtime proved to be the difference as Eastern Washington defeated Cal Poly 53-51 in a non-conference football game Saturday night inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Mitchell's 22-yard touchdown pass to Cory Mitchell tied the game at 35-35 with 3:15 to play in regulation and send the game into overtime.
Each team exchanged field goals in the first extra session – a 36-yarder by Eastern Washington's Mike Jarrett and a 37-yarder by Cal Poly's James Langford.
In the second overtime, Cal Poly quarterback Andre Broadous ran one yard for a touchdown and Eastern Washington countered with a 25-yard pass from wide receiver Greg Herd to Nicholas Edwards on what started out as a reverse.
Then Herd caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell to start the third overtime period and Mitchell ran for the two-point PAT and a 53-45 lead.
Broadous scored from a yard out on fourth down to close the gap to two points, but his two-point conversion pass was batted away in the end zone by Eastern Washington defensive back Alden Gibbs, ending the game.
The loss dropped Cal Poly to 5-5 and leaves the Mustangs with a 4-1 record at home for the third straight season. Eastern Washington, the defending NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national champion, also is 5-5 for the season.
The decision spoiled a brilliant performance by Cal Poly senior fullback Jake Romanelli (pictured at right), who established career highs with 36 rushes for 179 yards and a touchdown on a one-yard run early in the second quarter.
For Romanelli, it was his fifth 100-yard game this season and the sixth of his Mustang career. He is now just 34 yards shy of becoming Cal Poly's first 1,000-yard rusher for a season since 2006 when James Noble gained 1,009 yards.
Broadous added 81 yards on 32 carries, scoring three times, all on runs of one yard. Junior slotback Deonte Williams contributed 69 yards on eight trips and slotback Mark Rodgers, one of 25 seniors honored in a pregame ceremony on Senior Night, added 60 yards on 16 carries after sitting out the last two games with a shoulder injury.
Eastern Washington gained most of its yardage through the air as Mitchell completed 34 of 50 passes for 436 yards and five touchdowns. Edwards was his favorite target with 10 catches for 136 yards and Cory Mitchell added seven receptions for 132 yards.
Eastern Washington built leads of 21-7 and 28-14 before Cal Poly bounced back.
Broadous hit Lance Castaneda with a 22-yard scoring pass in the second quarter, Williams scored on a three-yard run midway through the third quarter and the first one-yard scoring run by Broadous tied the game at 28-28 with 1:22 to go in the third period.
Cal Poly took a 35-28 lead with 5:06 to play in regulation on an 18-yard pass from Broadous to freshman wide receiver Willie Tucker, but the visiting Eagles answered with the Mitchell to Mitchell scoring pass with 1:51 to go, sending the game into overtime.
Broadous completed seven of 11 passes for 96 yards and two scores. Rodgers was Cal Poly's top receiver with three catches for 18 yards.
Both teams surpassed the 500-yard mark in total offense. Cal Poly amassed 501 yards, including 405 on the ground, while Eastern Washington accumulated 546 yards, 461 through the air.
Linebacker Grant Williams logged 19 tackles and linebacker Ronnie Hamlin added 16 for Eastern Washington, Tyler Washburn, another Eagle linebacker, recovered a Cal Poly fumble.
Cal Poly was led defensively by linebacker Nick Dzubnar with nine tackles and cornerback Bijon Samoodi with eight. Senior safety Greg Francis intercepted an Eastern Washington pass and returned it 26 yards to set up Cal Poly's go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
Cal Poly played its sixth overtime game and fell to 1-5. It was the first overtime contest for the Mustangs since a 36-35 loss at Wisconsin in 2008 and the second overtime game ever played in Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Northern Iowa outlasted Cal Poly 29-26 in 2002.
Cal Poly wraps up the 2011 season next Saturday at South Alabama, with kickoff in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., set for 2 p.m. PST.