Central Washington suffers first ever home GNAC loss - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Central Washington suffers first ever home GNAC loss

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By Jonathan Gordon

ELLENSBURG (Oct. 15) -- Central Washington University senior Justin Helwege (Sammamish/Eastlake HS) finished with 130 receiving yards on a career-high 12 catches, but the Wildcat football team allowed 512 yards of total offense in a 30-20 Homecoming loss to visiting Humboldt State University on Saturday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium.

The loss was the first-ever home defeat for CWU in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game, snapping a 21-game streak since the league's inception in 2001. The Wildcats are now 2-4 on the season, including 2-3 in GNAC play. Humboldt State, ranked 19th in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll, maintained its undefeated season and improved to 6-0 overall (4-0 GNAC).

The Wildcats' last home loss in a conference game in 2007, when CWU capped a two-year football stay in the now-defunct North Central Conference. The defeat also marked just the second time in the past 12 years that Central Washington lost on Homecoming weekend.

Helwege, whose yardage total was six yards shy of his career-high, capped the day's scoring with a 17-yard scoring catch from junior backup Jose Mohler (Cardiff, Calif./La Costa Canyon HS) with 1:58 remaining. His 12 receptions were four more than his previous season- and career-high, as he was the primary target for the combined 26 pass completions from Mohler and junior starter Ryan Robertson (Sammamish/Eastlake HS). Robertson left the field due to injury on the final play from scrimmage prior to Mohler's TD pass.

Central Washington stopped Humboldt State in the red zone on the game's first possession as junior Genesis Fonoimoana (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach HS) came away with an interception from his own 2-yard line. However, the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the takeaway, and did not score until their second possession with 6:14 to go in the first as Robertson connected with junior Anthony Spain (Grants Pass, Ore./North Valley HS) on a six-yard strike.

As was the case in the first meeting of the season between the two schools on Sept. 8 in Arcata, Calif., Humboldt State responded with a game-tying touchdown on the next series, as quarterback Mike Proulx scored on a three-yard run with 2:24 remaining in the first.

Two series later, CWU marched 86 yards on 10 plays, with an even balance of Robertson completions (four on the drive) and three carries by redshirt freshman Levi Taylor (Spokane/Lewis and Clark HS). Taylor scored from one yard out to make it 14-7.

The Wildcats appeared to be in control until Humboldt State pieced together two quick scoring drives to close the half. The Lumberjacks needed just five plays to traverse 99 yards down the field, as a 53-yard pass play that saw Lynden native Dirk Dallas tip-toe down the sideline gave HSU a touchdown to make it 14-13. CWU senior Taylor Tanasse (Yakima/West Valley HS) blocked the extra point and it remained a one-point margin. After a three-and-out by the Wildcat offense, Humboldt State took over with 25 seconds left in the first half and went 35 yards on six plays to set up a 47-yard field goal by Brian Blumberg as time expired to give the Lumberjacks a 16-14 halftime edge.

Blumberg's last-second field goal in the first half, which marked the third time in the past four meetings between the two schools that the senior had kicked a go-ahead field goal in the final minute of a half, gave Humboldt State momentum. The Wildcats did open the second half with a 62-yard drive that went into the red zone, but a Taylor fumble at the end of a 22-yard run into the red zone thwarted a scoring opportunity for CWU, and Humboldt State responded with a seven-play, 90-yard drive that was finished off by a 67-yard run by Lyndon Rowells.

The score remained 23-14 heading to the fourth quarter, when HSU added an insurance score on a one-yard touchdown by Rowells. Neither team scored again until Mohler's pass to Helwege in the waning minutes of the game, and an interception thrown by Mohler into the end zone with three seconds left sealed the final 10-point margin.

Taylor, who had run for more than 100 yards each of the previous two weeks, finished with 77 rushing yards on 19 carries for the Wildcats. CWU finished with just 77 net rushing yards as a team, but compiled 307 yards through the air between Robertson (23 of 41 for 223 yards) and Mohler (3 of 5 for 84 yards). Spain joined Helwege in leading the receiving corps with six receptions for 67 yards.

The Wildcat defense was led by Tanasse, who tied for game-high honors with a career-best 11 tackles. Three of those stops were for losses, as he maintained his GNAC lead in that category, and he was also credited with a partial block on a fourth-quarter punt by Humboldt State's Chris Campbell. CWU junior John Koopman (Enumclaw) also finished with a career-high 11 tackles, while junior Deionte Gordon (Seaside, Calif./) finished with nine stops. Fonoimoana and senior Mike Reno (Ellensburg/Kittitas HS) added seven stops apiece, and Fonoimoana was also credited with a fumble recovery.

Humboldt State's offensive total of 512 yards, which was the most by a CWU opponent since the 2008 NCAA Division II playoffs at West Texas A&M, was keyed by Rowells, who finished with 223 rushing yards on 36 carries. Proulx threw for 281 yards on 19 of 29 passing, and Dallas totaled 132 recceiving yards on six grabs. Victor Spencer also reeled in five grabs for 85 yards for the Lumberjacks.

Central Washington will now play its next three games away from home. The Wildcats visit Dixie State next Saturday (Oct. 22) at 1:05 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (12:05 p.m. Pacific) before consecutive road games at West Texas A&M (Oct. 29) and Simon Fraser (Nov. 5). CWU closes out the home season on Nov. 12 at home against Dixie State.

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