Spartans Down Cal Poly 19-9 For First Win

San Jose State running back Lamon Muldrow had his coming out party against the Cal Poly Mustangs on Saturday night; leading the Spartans to a hard fought 19-9 victory over the Mustangs with 188 yards rushing, and scoring a fourth quarter touchdown to ice the victory.

San Jose State running back Lamon Muldrow came to the Spartans with the reputation of being a workhorse while at Sierra College in Rocklin (Calif.), where he had rushed for as much as 50 times a game. In his first ever start for San Jose State against Cal Poly on Saturday night, Muldrow steamrolled over the Mustangs with a second half surge, rushing for 188 yards on 20 carries to lead the Spartans to a 19-9 victory over the Mustangs. As Head Coach Dick Tomey said after the game, Muldrow was "aching for an opportunity." When the opportunity came, Muldrow delivered. "He was somebody who was waiting to break out" said Tomey, "and he did that tonight."

The victory by San Jose State snapped a six game losing streak, dating back to last season, and improved their record to 1 win and 3 losses. Cal Poly dropped to a record of 1 win and 2 losses. The announced crowd of 13,510, on a hot and muggy evening, also witnessed the first blocked field goal and extra point attempts by the Spartans in nearly five years.

Unlike last week's game at Stanford, which saw the Cardinal returning the opening kick-off 89 yards for a score, Cal Poly's Jono Grayson, choosing to return from his own end zone, only made it to the 16 yard line. Early in the game it appeared that Grayson was on his way to a big night, rushing for 113 yards on just nine carries in the first half. However, Grayson would be limited to only 25 yards in the second half, once the Spartan defense figured out how to stop Cal Ploy's Triple Option attack.

Cal Poly opened the game with three straight runs by their fullback James Romanelli. A chop block penalty pushed the Mustangs back 15 yards. A third and 17 pass by quarterback Tony Smith fell incomplete, and Cal Poly was forced to punt. Smith who would go on to miss on his first five pass attempts, completed only 10 of his 25 passes, for 135 yards, and one interception over the entire game.

San Jose State spent much of the first half wasting good opening plays on each of their drives. On their opening possession, quarterback Jordan La Secla connected with wide receiver Kevin Jurovich for a 16 yard gain. The Spartans failed to get a first down on a fourth and one play from their own 40 yard line when running back Lamon Muldrwo was stopped short. The failed fourth and one attempt by the Spartans would go on to hurt them as Jono Grayson took a pitch from Tony Smith on a second and 15, and raced 53 yards down the right sideline for the games opening score. Kicker Chris Pinto's point after attempt was blocked by Adonis Davis, marking the first blocked PAT for the Spartans since 2004.

For the game, Jordan La Secla completed 18 of his 32 pass attempts for 172 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Kevin Jurovich led all receivers with 108 yards in seven catches. It was the third time this season that Jurovich has surpassed the 100 yards receiving mark.

On their second possession the Spartans would again begin the drive with promise, when Lamon Muldrow ran 19 yards on first down. Three plays later, a Jordan La Secla pass was intercepted by Scottie Cordier at midfield and returned to the San Jose State 39 yard line. The Mustangs failed to capitalize on the gift from the Spartans, gaining only one yard and having to punt it back to the Spartans Both teams traded punts over the next four possessions. The Spartans again failed on a fourth and two play at the Cal Poly 30 yard line, when Jordan LaSecla's pass to Ryno Gonzales fell short. Gonzales, a linebacker, opened the game at running back for the Spartans for the first time in his career.

Cal Poly extended its lead to 9-0 following a six play, 58 yard drive with a 30 yard Chris Pinto field goal. The Spartans answered the Cal Poly score with their own 10 play, 57 yard drive that featured runs by both Muldrow and La Secla, and was capped with an eight yard La Secla pass to wide receiver Jalal Beauchman. Tyler Cope missed the PAT, and the half ended with a score of 9-6.

In the third quarter, Spartan's punter Philip Zavala twice pinned Cal Poly back inside their one yard line. The Spartan defense, who came out after halftime with an intensity level not seen this season, seemed to have figured out the Mustang's option attack. After forcing the Mustangs to punt on their first possession, a fumble by quarterback Tony Smith at their own five yard line was recovered by San Jose State's Tanner Burns, setting up La Secla's second touchdown pass of the evening, a leaping catch by wide receiver Marquis Avery over the defender. Suddenly the Spartans led 13-9; a lead they would not relinquish.

In the fourth quarter, Cal Poly had an opportunity to take the lead back after driving to the San Jose State 10 yard line. On second and goal from the six, San Jose State linebacker Justin Cole dropped David Mahr for a four yard loss. Following an incomplete pass on third down, the San Jose State defense blocked Chris Pinto's 27 yard field goal attempt. San Jose State defensive assistant coach Joe Salave'a challenged his defense last Sunday, in what was described as an emotional meeting by Travis Jones, which motivated the Spartans to work extra hard this past week on kick blocking. "(Salave'a) always told us it's not about the scheme, blocking kicks," said Jones. "It's about want to, and being emotional."

Following the blocked field goal attempt, Lamon Muldrow enlightened the San Jose State fans with an electrifying 71 yard run on a third and three from the San Jose State 27 yard line, carrying the ball to the Cal Poly two yard line. Muldrow felt himself cramping towards the end of the play, which allowed Cal Poly's Brandon Roberts to catch him just short of the end zone. However, Muldrow scored a touchdown on the very next play, giving the Spartans a 19-9 lead with 4:33 remaining. Tyler Cope missed his second PAT of the evening following Muldrow's touchdown.

"We are thrilled to win this game" said Tomey. "It was a much-needed win for us, and we did so many things out there that we haven't been doing. This is the first time our team has really deserved to win, because they made plays when they really needed to make plays."

San Jose State has a bye next week, then will open WAC play at home against the University of Idaho on Saturday, October 5th.

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Mike Morgan is a Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at mike@insidesparta.com

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