Central Washington Loses to North Dakota in Rodeo Bowl
ELLENSBURG, Wash. - Central Washington sophomore quarterback Mike Reilly (Kalispell, Mont./Flathead HS) completed 23 of 37 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, but visiting North Dakota scored 28 unanswered points to spoil the Wildcats' North Central Conference debut in handing CWU a 28-14 defeat in the 2006 season opener for both teams on Friday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium.
Reilly helped engineer a pair of first-half scoring drives, connecting on pass plays of 33 yards to Josh Boonstra (Sedro-Woolley, Wash.) and of 16 yards to Johnny Spevak (Edgewood, Wash./Puyallup HS), as the Wildcats posted the game's first two scores and led 14-0 with 5:46 to go in the first half.
North Dakota, ranked fourth in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll, stormed back on its next two possessions. The Fighting Sioux marched 68 yards on five plays to cut its deficit in half at 14-7 after a 21-yard pass from Reed Manke to Weston Dressler. Then, after the Wildcats were unable to get a first down on three successive offensive plays, UND needed just three plays to go 60 yards as Manke found Brady Trenbeath with a 37-yard scoring play with exactly one minute remaining in the first half to tie the game.
Neither team scored on its first possession of the second half, as Central Washington allowed just one first down to North Dakota on the first drive after the break. The Wildcat offense struggled equally on its first set of downs in the third quarter, managing just one first down before punting the ball away to the Fighting Sioux. North Dakota picked up the eventual game-winning drive on its next drive, eating up more than five and a half minutes of game clock and going 90 yards on 11 plays to take a 20-14 lead. Manke found Dressler for a second time, but Brandon Hellevang's extra-point attempt was blocked to preserve the six-point margin.
Central Washington was unable to get an equalizing score. In fact, after Reilly completed his first pass on the next possession, he was intercepted by Rory Manke on a deflected pass, and a 24-yard return of that pick gave North Dakota the ball deep inside Wildcat territory at the three-yard line. From there, the Fighting Sioux attempted three rushing plays in succession, all of which were stopped short of the goal line, before Manke found fullback Trent Christensen in the end zone for the insurance touchdown.
Just as the Wildcats appeared to be making a comeback on their next drive, including back-to-back completions from Reilly to Chris Jameson (Wenatchee, Wash.) and Brad Broughton (Renton, Wash./Kentridge HS), he was again intercepted by Rory Manke, this time in the end zone, to thwart another potential scoring possession.
The Central defense had an interception of its own in the fourth quarter as sophomore J.R. Jamerson (Pasco, Wash.) took away a pass from Reed Manke as the Fighting Sioux were driving. Jamerson's interception came at the Wildcat 8, and despite a 13-play, 83-yard drive that took CWU to the North Dakota 9-yard line, Reilly and the Wildcats were unable to score after three consecutive incompletions. North Dakota then ran out the clock and sealed its come-from-behind road victory.
The two teams were nearly identical offensively, with Central Washington picking up 22 first downs to North Dakota's 17. Neither team rushed the ball especially well, as UND finished with an 82-72 advantage in rushing yards, although Reilly was sacked five times for 42 yards to help diminish the Wildcats' total on the ground. Reed Manke won the passing battle, going 22-of-30 for 261 yards and four touchdowns, while Reilly tossed for 238 yards.
Dressler was the top pass receiver for either team, collecting 141 yards on 10 catches, while Trenbeath had five grabs for 59 yards. Spevak was Central's top receiver, nearly hitting the century mark in his collegiate debut with 98 receiving yards on eight catches. Boonstra and Brandon Robertson (Ellensburg, Wash.) each finished with four catches, and three other players had two receptions apiece.
On defense, senior linebacker Chris Burch (Inchelium, Wash.) led all players with nine tackles and had a team-leading two tackles for loss. Buddy Wood (Chattaroy, Wash./Riverside HS) added eight tackles in his first career start, while defensive backs Ryan Andrews (Lake Stevens, Wash.) and Adam Jackson (Spanaway, Wash./Spanaway Lake HS) added seven tackles each.
Rory Manke, Jason Hoffschneider, Adam Wolff, Derek Malner, and Dan Ullsperger all totaled five tackles for the Fighting Sioux. Wolff had three of his team's five quarterback sacks among his 3.5 tackles for loss.
Central Washington steps out of conference play for consecutive weeks and will begin a three-game road trip next week as it visits Humboldt State in Arcata, Calif. North Dakota travels to Division I-AA Northern Iowa next week.