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Spartans light up the Mustangs

A huge counterbalance win puts things in perspective

SJS QB Chevan Cordeiro throws out of the Cal Poly endzone, CEFCU Stadium, Saturday, September 9, 2023
photo by: Vic Aquino

After two weeks of the wrath of some of the best college football teams in the nation, San Jose State (1-2) completely imposed themselves on Cal Poly (1-1) in a 59-3 win in front of 14,224 at CEFCU Stadium.

As it is said, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” especially after facing USC and Oregon State, the Spartans in their all black tribute uniforms with midnight blue trim brought immediate physicality to the hapless Mustangs.

“I think we’ve done a decent job in our pass protection and our run game in the first couple games. These were positive things,” said head coach Brent Brennan on the positives after week three. “The offensive line is coming along; nice maturity there and I was excited about the execution of our kicking game this week.”

If 169 total Cal Poly yards vs. 472 total Spartan yards says it all, +3 on turnovers for SJS in the first quarter alone was an early triple exclamation point of what was to come.

Add in the utter neutralization of a once five-star QB in Mustang Sam Huard who finished his day in the middle of the third quarter, it was a very long day for Cal Poly. Huard finished with 66 yards on 11-17 and one INT before Cal Poly sophomore Jaden Jones was put in.

“We just studied Huard all week and studied their offense,” said SJS cornerback Jalen Bainer on the typical study process. “And we had a great, dominating game.”

In just the first quarter

At the opening kickoff, Bainer recovered a fumble leading to a Kyle Halvorsen field goal. Bainer also recovered an onside kick.

“It was perfectly executed by our kickoff coverage team,” said Bainer on his second fumble recovery. “The ball was in a perfect spot for me to go get it.”

On Cal Poly’s third offensive play of the game, Spartan DL Tre Smith forced a fumble that was recovered by Jordan Pollard, before SJS safety Chase Williams gathered in the first interception of the season.

The Spartan race was on

A pair of Quali Conley 10-yard-TD jaunts (60 yards, 12 carries) and a 27-yard TD toss from Chevan Cordeiro to TE Sam Olson made it 24-0.

Also in the first quarter, Cordeiro’s 101 yards passing left 131 more yards to reach a unique milestone of 10,000 yards passing. Cordeiro remains critical of himself regardless of any records.

“There was a swing to Jabari (Bates) that I missed that I should have hit and that almost INT where the safety dropped and I was slacking on that read,” Cordeiro rattled off. ”There’s a lot of balls that I missed that I have to get better with.”

Cordeiro added, “In games like this, I’m going to miss some throws. All I can do is put that behind me and focus on the next play.”

Then lightening struck, literally

-3 in the turnover department for Cal Poly, only an act of God could stop the game for a complete regroup and that’s exactly what happened. A Bay Area lightning anomaly stopped the game two minutes into the second quarter, which emptied the field for 30 minutes before a game reboot.

“Yes, it was probably Lawrence Fan saying, ‘I’m here,’” agreed Brennan on the lightning stoppage after remembering it was Fan’s birthday. Fan, SJS’ legendary sports information director passed away suddenly last February.

But no extended break would help the Mustangs. SJS’ relentlessness forced the Mustangs into more mistakes.

Closing out the half for the Spartans, an 88-yard scoring drive punctuated by an Isaac Jernigan 45-yard fly sweep and a shifty 18-yard run by Kairee Robinson capped by a 15-yard sprint to the endzone by Cordeiro found a 31-0 lead.

A 24-yard TD toss from Cordeiro to receiver Charles Ross and a Mustangs’ field goal ended the half with the Spartans up 38-3.

Gas pedal, gas pedal

With two second-half rush TDs by Kairee Robinson and a 75-yard TD punt return by Spartan freshman Matthew Coleman, SJS only let up when more of the younger players got into the game by the middle of the third quarter. There was no energy drop.

Robinson finished his day early with 124 yards rushing on 16 attempts leading the Spartans to a 267-yard team rushing day.

“Every week is definitely hard to establish the run,” said Robinson, “It wouldn’t be possible without the OLine. They did their job all night.”

Robinson’s last eight-yard TD run typified the Spartan’s day.

“On the last counter play where I scored, I went untouched into the endzone,” said Robinson. “That doesn’t happen without the big fellas on the OLine.”

Cordeiro also finished his day early ending with 205 yards passing (15-21), two touchdown passes (one rush TD) and 27 yards short of 10,000 career passing yards.

“Any stats are good in the record book and it shows all the hard work pays off,” said Cordeiro if he looked back at the accomplishment years from now. “But the Mountain West conference championship will be better and we have Toledo next week is all on our minds.”

photo by: Vic Aquino
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