SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Hamler completed his first six passes, three for touchdowns, and also ran for two scores as Cal Poly opened its 2019 football season with a 52-34 victory over San Diego on Saturday inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Hamler (pictured above) finished the game eight of 11 for 221 yards and rushed for 96 yards on 17 carries to lead Cal Poly to its first season-opening win since 2015. San Diego, which defeated the Mustangs in the first round of the 2016 FCS playoffs in the last meeting between the two schools, is 0-1.
Cal Poly opened the scoring with an 87-yard run down the right sideline by sophomore fullback Duy Tran-Sampson less than five minutes into the game. San Diego answered with a one-yard run by Emilio Martinez, tying the score at 7-7.
Continuing in the first quarter, Hamler ran three yards for a touchdown and the Toreros again answered with a 30-yard pass from Reid Sinnett to himself after the ball was batted in the air by Mustang defensive end Ryan Boehm.
Cal Poly snapped the 14-14 deadlock by scoring the next 38 points of the game.
J.J. Koski caught touchdown passes from Hamler spanning 55 and 23 yards, Hamler also hit Quentin Harrison with a 60-yard scoring pass and Colton Theaker closed out the first half with a 28-yard field goal as Cal Poly took a 38-14 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.
In the third period, Hamler ran 38 yards for a touchdown and Tran-Sampson (pictured at left) added a 34-yard scoring romp capping a 98-yard drive as Cal Poly opened up a 52-14 advantage.
San Diego scored the final 20 points of the game, but fell short in its comeback try. Sinnett hit Dalton Kincaid with a 17-yard touchdown pass and Michael Bandy with scoring passes of seven and 20 yards.
Tran-Sampson, who had one carry for four yards in his freshman season, finished his first game as a sophomore with 172 yards on 15 carries as Cal Poly amassed 386 yards on the ground and held San Diego to just 119 rushing yards.
The Toreros accummulated 416 yards through the air as Sinnett, replacing four-year starter Anthony Lawrence, completed 26 of 39 passes, four for touchdowns. Bandy finished with 10 catches for 133 yards and Kincaid had six for 152 yards.
Koski was Cal Poly's top receiver with five catches for a career-high 154 yards and Harrison added three for 67 yards. For Koski, he produced his fourth career 100-yard game receiving.
Defensive back Carter Nichols led Cal Poly with a career-high 11 tackles. Kitu Humphrey and Matt Wright recorded sacks while Matt Shotwell, Bradley Mickey and Kevin Howell each intercepted Sinnett once.
Cal Poly scored on each of its first eight possessions, produced nine plays of 20 or more yards and did not punt until the first play of the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for 86 points and 1,142 yards of total offense and the Mustangs averaged 9.8 yards per play, including a 7.9 average rushing the football. Six of Cal Poly's seven touchdowns came on plays of 23 or more yards and the Mustangs scored on two of the three interceptions.
Cal Poly plays a non-conference game at Big Sky rival Weber State next Saturday at 5:05 p.m. PDT.
Photos courtesy of Matt Brown | Matt Brown Photography