CWU Football Suffers First GNAC Loss, 29-21 at Dixie State - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

CWU Football Suffers First GNAC Loss, 29-21 at Dixie State

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By CWU Athletics

ST. GEORGE, Utah (Oct. 6) -- Senior running back Demetrius Sumler (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic HS) scored a pair of touchdowns, and senior safety Kevin Puckett (Pomona, Calif./Garey HS) had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown, but the Central Washington University football team suffered a 29-21 loss to host Dixie State College of Utah on Saturday afternoon at Hansen Stadium.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Wildcats (4-2, 4-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference), who also lost for the first time in nine all-time meetings with the Red Storm (3-3, 3-2 GNAC).

Sumler got the Wildcats on the scoreboard in the second quarter on a 33-yard touchdown pass from senior Ryan Robertson (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS), but CWU entered halftime with a 10-7 deficit after Dixie State scored a field goal and touchdown in the opening quarter.

CWU took its first lead of the game early in the third quarter when Puckett, who added a game- and career-high 14 tackles, intercepted a Kaleo Nawahine pass in the end zone and returned it 100 yards for a score. Senior Sean Davis (Federal Way, Wash./Todd Beamer HS) added the extra point for a 14-10 lead. The Wildcats gained possession again just 10 seconds later after senior John Koopman (Enumclaw, Wash.) intercepted a Nawahine pass and returned it to Dixie State territory. Five plays and 40 yards later, Sumler scored on a 22-yard run to make it a 21-10 count with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter.

Sumler's second touchdown proved to be the final points the Wildcats would score on the afternoon, as Dixie State began its comeback with a touchdown five and a half minutes later. Griff Robles, who relieved Nawahine under center for the Red Storm, threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Nick Porrazzo but the extra point was blocked and CWU maintained a five-point edge (21-16) heading to the fourth quarter.

In the final stanza, Dixie State scored two touchdowns in the final 4:23 to complete its comeback. A.J. Johnson capped a 99-yard drive with a one-yard run to give the Red Storm the lead, and after CWU failed to gain a yard on three offensive plays on its next series, Dixie clinched the game with a two-yard run from Robles on fourth-and-goal with 1:39 left. The Wildcats' last-minute comeback efforts stalled after Robertson threw an interception in the end zone.

The Wildcat defense was busy throughout the game, incurring 90 plays on defense while the CWU offense logged just 60 offensive plays. Dixie State took advantage of those extra plays -- and nearly 36 minutes of possession -- to rack up 585 yards of total offense including 478 through the air. Both yardage totals were the highest by a CWU opponent since West Texas A&M University finished with 497 passing yards and 608 total yards in the 2008 NCAA Division II playoffs.

Offensively, CWU managed just 297 yards on its 60 offensive plays. Robertson was just 11 of 29 for 174 yards through the air, with Sumler finishing as the top gainer through the air (53 yards) and on the ground (96 yards).

Both Dixie State quarterbacks threw for better than 230 yards, with Robles totaling 244 on 12 of 19 and Nawahine 234 yards on 16 of 31. The Red Storm's Zack Fox finished as the game's lone 100-yard receiver, netting 120 yards on four catches.

CWU is scheduled to finally make its Tomlinson Stadium debut next Saturday (Oct. 13) for Homecoming against Simon Fraser University at 1 p.m. However, as was the case with its first two scheduled home games that were later moved to Bothell due to air quality concerns in the Kittitas Valley, the game location for this week's contest will be evaluated and is expected to be determined by mid-week.
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