The Pacific Northwest, Portland included, was supposed to be hit by a huge storm – the remnants of a typhoon with wind gusts of 60 miles per hour on Saturday. On Friday, Oregon was hit by a rare tornado. So when the storm swung north and missed Providence Park, the two teams decided to create a storm of their own in what was an unexpectedly high-scoring affair. Cal Poly won 55-35.
There were a few strong gusts throughout the game, but Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said the weather was "very nice". Relative to what they were expecting, it was practically a summer day. If the storm had hit as expect? "It would have been a nightmare for both teams," Walsh said. "You have to play in the conditions you're dealt, that definitely would have affected the pass game."
It's safe to say Cal Poly's offense would not have been as efficient as it was on Saturday.
"We never punted," coach Walsh said. "We fumbled once and we scored on all other possessions. We did our deal and we did it very well, so I'm pleased with our outcome."
Cal Poly's offense racked up 658 total yards, 462 on the ground, and three players reached over 100 rushing yards: Kyle Lewis, Kori Garcia, and Joe Protheroe. All three running backs scored a pair of touchdowns as well – Lewis and Protheroe rushed for both of theirs, while Garcia caught one and carried one in.
"Our offensive coordinator Justin Wood has done a very good job. I'm also a huge believer that players win games," Walsh added. "We run a very unique offense, and we never know what exactly a team is going to do against us. What Portland State did we've played before, we have played against before, so our players felt very comfortable with their assignments and once we got going it was a very impressive performance."
Portland State had it's fair share of big plays, returning a kick-off for a touchdown. (Portland State Athletics)
Cal Poly runs a triple option offense, so the run game is a huge part of what they do. It's also a huge part of what Portland State does, but the Cal Poly defense was able to hold the Vikings to just 72 yards on the ground.
It wasn't entirely about the run game, though, as the Mustangs' QB had another efficient outing.
"Dano Graves was 13 for 14 passing today, he's an extremely good thrower and a really smart quarterback. He can damage a defense in a lot of ways," Walsh said. "A lot of people going into the year didn't know how good we would be. But we have 10 returning starters on offense, and we're good, and that's the strength of our team."
The box score credited the senior quarterback for 12-of-13 passing 166 yards and three touchdowns.
"Number one is our overall team efficiency. I give a lot of credit to our offensive line first and foremost, and second to our quarterback Dano Graves, and third to Justin Woods the offensive coordinator. The most unsung guy is Kori Garcia. He's one of the best football players I've ever coached, he's not the fastest guy, hes not the biggest guy, he's just a really good football player that blocks the ball and runs the ball. Week in and week out the offensive line and Kori Garcia are really some of the strengths of who we are. We feel really confident of who we are offensively."
Cal Poly was able to prove once again why they should be taken seriously in the Big Sky Conference after Tim Walsh returned to his old stomping grounds once again. His parting words were simple, but tell the story of his team this year.
"The overall thing is they didn't stop us and we stopped them enough. Our players just performed very well today."