Football team 1-1 after loss to Cal Poly SLO
For four of the last five seasons, the University of San Diego football team has won at least a share of the Pioneer Football League (PFL) championship. Of course, an accomplishment of that nature is impossible without having some of the league’s best players. This is the case once again in 2016. Prior to the season, five players were named to the conference’s preseason team.
Senior cornerback Jamal Agnew, junior offensive lineman Miles McArdle, redshirt junior defensive end Jonathan Petersen, junior wide receiver Justin Priest, and senior wide receiver Brian Riley all received the honor. The five selections trailed only the Dayton Flyers, who had seven players chosen for the squad.
The Toreros’ talent was on display for their opening week victory over the Western New Mexico University Mustangs on Sept. 3. USD blanked the Mustangs by a score of 27-0, earning their sixth win in as many years against them. Redshirt senior running back Jonah Hodges led the way for the Torero offense. Hodges scampered his way to 106 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.
Petersen was the star on the defensive side of the ball, showing his merit as an all-conference player by racking up three tackles for loss and two sacks while leading the defense to a shutout.
Junior linebacker Max Michaels says the team’s familiarity with Western New Mexico certainly helped.
“I think for the most part we had a pretty good idea, especially defensively, of what they were going to come out and do,” Michaels said. “We’ve played them pretty well in the past. We were pretty well prepared from a defensive standpoint.”
Head coach Dale Lindsey and his team suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday, Sept. 10 in San Luis Obispo against the Cal Poly Mustangs. Unlike USD’s football program, Cal Poly’s offers scholarships to their players. The Mustangs emerged victorious by the score of 38-16.
Despite what the final score might indicate, there were several bright spots for the Toreros. Hodges picked up 94 yards on the ground while redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Lawrence tossed two touchdown passes. Redshirt junior tight end Ross Dwelley, one of the fulcrums of San Diego’s offense, hauled in both of the scoring passes while gaining 97 yards on nine receptions.
Junior defensive backs Ray Clark and Colton Giorgi were the defensive standouts against Cal Poly. Clark had two tackles for loss, while Giorgi led the team with 16 total tackles.
The team will start in-conference play on Saturday, Sept. 24 against the University of Dayton Flyers at Torero Stadium. Coming in as the defending PFL champions, the Flyers arguably represent the biggest game of the season for USD.
Agnew spoke about the team’s goals for this season, one of which involves dethroning the Flyers from its spot at the top of the standings.
“My number one goal is to go undefeated in PFL play,” Agnew said. “USD has never done that before. This is my last year, so I definitely want to be a part of the team that does that for the first time.”
The dynamic cornerback, who attended nearby Point Loma High School, also has aspirations regarding an illustrious individual award.
“Also, [I want to] at least try to get close to breaking the career interceptions record here,” Agnew said. “I’m striving for that next record.”
Agnew has already broken the school record for career pass breakups, and now sits six interceptions behind Al-Rilwan Adeyemi for the all-time record at Alcala Park. Petersen and his six career forced fumbles places him only two behind school record holder Jeb Dougherty.
The pivotal matchup against Dayton will be monumental in determining the Toreros’ chances of making the Football Championship Series (FCS) playoff. The last time they advanced to the playoff, USD was knocked off by the Montana Grizzlies, another scholarship program.
While it is still very early in the season, this year’s edition of the Torero football team appears primed to make some noise in the Pioneer Football League.
Written by Matthew Roberson, Sports Editor