The Colgate Raiders football team began the 2017 season on the road in sunny California on August 26. The Raiders traveled to San Luis Obispo to square-off against Cal Poly’s Mustangs who were ranked as a top 25 team this past year after defeating Montana State.
8,428 people were in attendance for the game in addition to a national audience who was tuned in to the ESPNU broadcast. Colgate displayed dominance early, tallying 17 points and holding the Mustangs to zero by the half.
The Raiders graduated most of its veteran defensive line leaving only three starters returning this season. Despite the gaps left, the Raiders displayed a tremendous defensive performance against the Mustangs. The Raiders were capable of holding the Mustangs scoreless until nearly 14 minutes left in the game.
“I thought we did a really good job not making mistakes that teams will make during their opening games; we didn’t have a ton of penalties, we didn’t have too many missed assignments and we played really physical,” head coach Dan Hunt said.
Hunt added, “Obviously, our defense played fantastic for the whole game and made the big play when they had to.” The Raider’s strong triumph over the Mustangs marks the first time the football team has been 1-0 since its 2011 season run.
Don’t expect the Raiders to let up their defensive game from last year. The Raiders graduated a number of the players last year who made up the best defense in the country against running plays as well as the second best in sacks. Despite the loss, they have clearly shown that they are capable of picking up where they left off.
The Mustangs have led the NCAA the past four seasons in rushing yards, averaging 343.5 yards on the ground. The Raiders were able to hold them to just 210 yards, speaking to the strength of this year’s defensive strength.
The defensive effort was made possible with players stepping into their roles like junior TJ Holl, who had a career high of 16 stops during the game, including nine solo tackles.
“It starts with a number of guys who played but didn’t necessarily start [last season], you look at TJ Holl, you look at Ben Hunt, both of those guys had fantastic games Saturday,” Hunt said.
Next week, the Raiders will be playing against the Richmond Spiders who are ranked 7th going into the contest.
The Spiders will test the Raider’s defensive ability in a different way than the Mustangs were capable of doing. Against the Mustangs, Colgate was tasked to defend against wishbone running plays whereas the Spiders will test them in the air.
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