The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

CSM receiver Johnny Niupalu is brought down by a host of Delta defenders in Saturday’s 43-30 loss. Photo by Patrick Nguyen

CSM receiver Johnny Niupalu is brought down by a host of Delta defenders in Saturday’s 43-30 loss. Photo by Patrick Nguyen

It just wasn’t the Bulldogs’ day.

Not only did No. 2-ranked College of San Mateo (3-1) suffer a huge upset with a 43-30 loss Saturday at unranked San Joaquin Delta (2-2). The Bulldogs were hardly even in the game.

CSM turned over the ball on each of its first two possessions and Delta capitalized, jumping out to a 16-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

“We were playing uphill the whole game,” CSM head coach Bret Pollack said.

The Mustangs then rode running back Evan Owens to a career day, as the sophomore totaled a triple-digit rushing total for the first time in his career. Owens gained 236 total yards, collecting a game-high 188 running yards on 24 carries; he also had a team-high 48 receiving yards on three catches. He rushed for 401 yards all last season.

“Really good job on his part, both running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield,” Delta head coach Gary Barlow said.

The second half featured two polar-opposite quarters. With Delta leading 26-10 at halftime, the two teams totaled totaled five touchdowns in the third quarter. But the Delta defense pitched a fourth-quarter shutout, holding CSM to just two first downs throughout.

“We just didn’t execute well,” Pollack said. “No mystery. They gave everything they always give … and Delta just did a better job of executing than we did.”

Bulldogs quarterback Dru Brown suffered the worst game of his collegiate career. Not only did the freshman complete just 10-of-25 passes — his lowest completion total in four games — for 178 yards, he was responsible for all three CSM turnovers.

Going deep right out of the gate, Brown threw interception on first play of the game with cornerback Alex Lee picking it off 29 yards downfield. The Mustangs quickly converted, catching CSM off guard out of the spread offense with four straight rushing plays to Owens for 14, 43, 1 and 1 yards, the last going for a touchdown.

“Some of the problems we’ve had going into Saturday’s game is we haven’t done a good job blocking for the running game and the passing game, and I think [the offensive line] had their best game,” Barlow said.

The Bulldogs took a big hit in the first half when freshman fullback Joey Wood exited with a shoulder injury. He was still CSM’s third-leading rusher with 37 yards on seven carries. While he did not return, Pollack said the injury probably won’t be a long-term issue.

“I won’t know until Monday when I get in, but it didn’t seem to be a big deal,” Pollack said.

CSM then turned over the ball again on its second possession. This time it was Brown on a fumble, giving Delta the ball near midfield. The Mustangs later converted with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Arnold Kimble to Jalen Ward. Delta added a 24-yard field goal by Joel Chavez with five minutes remaining in the first quarter to take a 16-0 lead.

CSM opened the second quarter with a 24-yard field goal of its own, as Anthony Cantabrana hit his first of the year to get the Bulldogs on the board, closing Delta’s lead to 16-3. But after CSM and Delta traded touchdowns in the second quarter, Chavez added a 43-yard field goal to improve Delta’s lead to 26-10 going into halftime.

Freshman running back Isaiah Williams paced CSM with 54 rushing yards on 13 carries, including three touchdowns. He scored twice amid the fireworks of the third quarter. CSM freshman Ramiah Marshall capped the third quarter with a 98-yard kickoff return to cut Delta’s lead to 40-30.

But after Chavez opened the final quarter with his third field goal of the game, from 22 yards out, the Bulldogs couldn’t move the ball. The Bulldogs endured three stunted drives, the fina ending with a costly fumble by Brown on their final offensive play with 2:17 remaining in regulation.

Delta outgained CSM 481-336 on the day.

CSM hosts No. 16-ranked American River Saturday at 1 p.m. Last season, it was American River (3-1) that handed CSM its first loss of the season.