Wildcats Blowout Lumberjacks in 44-0 Home opener - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wildcats Blowout Lumberjacks in 44-0 Home opener

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ELLENSBURG, Wash - The Central Washington Wildcats made sure that Beau Baldwin's head coaching debut would be one to remember, racking up 435 yards of total offense and building a 37-0 halftime lead en route to a 44-0 blanking of visiting Humboldt State University in non-conference football action on Saturday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium.

The Wildcats, who shut out the Lumberjacks for the second consecutive year and won the 12th consecutive meeting in the all-time series, sprinted out to a 20-0 lead after the first quarter. Their combination of a persistent offense and overpowering defense enabled them to take a 37-point halftime advantage.

Junior quarterback Mike Reilly (Kalispell, Mont./Flathead HS) threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, connecting on scoring strikes of 31, 21, and 20 yards to sophomore Johnny Spevak (Edgewood, Wash./Puyallup HS), senior Durrell Moss (Orange, Calif.), and senior Chris Rohrbach (Edmonds, Wash./Meadowdale HS).

While the offense controlled the ball for the first half -- the Wildcats maintained possession for more than 18 of the opening 30 minutes -- the defense was just as effective. Central held Humboldt State to just 42 yards of offense in the first two quarters, including zero rushing yards. Junior Mitch Reffett (Moses Lake, Wash.) capped the Wildcats' strong defensive effort with a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown -- his first collegiate points -- with 5:18 remaining in the first half.

Central Washington was content to keep the ball on the ground in the second half, and the Wildcats didn't need much offense in preserving their halftime advantage. In fact, Central totaled just 108 yards of offense after the intermission, including 74 on the ground and 34 through the air. Their only scoring in the final two quarters came on a 69-yard interception return by junior Brandon Kennedy (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga Prep) -- his 11th career pick and the fifth that he has returned for a touchdown.

Humboldt State appeared in prime position to break the shutout late in the game. The Lumberjacks were driving in the final 2 1/2 minutes, and had second and goal at the Wildcats' 2-yard line when Central's Justin Gran (Buckley, Wash./White River HS) forced a Joevany Cueva fumble in his pursuit of the end zone. The loose ball bounced out of the side of the end zone for a touchback with 32 seconds to go, keeping the Wildcats' shutout intact at 44-0.

Central dominated in nearly every statistical category, totaling 24 first downs to the Lumberjacks' 10. In fact, the Wildcats had 12 first downs before HSU attained its first of the game on the next-to-last play of the first quarter. The Wildcats finished with a nearly-eight-minute edge in time of possession, and averaged nearly six yards per offensive play.

Reilly played the first three quarters at quarterback for Central Washington, completing 19 of 28 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore backup Kyle Miller (Vancouver, Wash./Evergreen HS), making his CWU debut, completed all four of his pass attempts in the final quarter for 12 yards.

Johnny Lopez (Federal Way, Wash./John F. Kennedy HS) had the Wildcats' top day on the ground, picking up 57 yards, while Reilly and Moss finished with 38 and 35, respectively.

Eleven different Central Washington players had at least one pass reception, with Spevak leading a balanced pass-catching attack with five grabs for 91 yards. Junior Jared Bronson (Kent, Wash./Thomas Jefferson HS) and Rohrbach each finished with four grabs, totaling 66 and 47 yards, respectively.

The Wildcat defense was also balanced on Saturday, as three different players led the way with seven tackles each. Linebackers Nate Pirak (R-Jr., Edmonds, Wash./Meadowdale HS), Adam Bighill (Fr., Montesano, Wash.), and Anthony Le (R-Fr., Lacey, Wash./Timberline HS) were credited with seven tackles apiece in their Wildcat debuts, while Gran, another redshirt freshman, finished with six stops. Pirak had a quarterback sack and forced the fumble on which Reffett scored in the second quarter.

Humboldt State was led by the 62 rushing yards of Marcus Cox. Cox also topped the Lumberjack receivers with five grabs for 42 yards. Garrett Hubrich (8-15-1, 47 yards) and Brian Hildebrand (6-11-1, 60 yards) split time at quarterback for Humboldt. On defense, the 'Jacks were keyed by the 12-tackle performance of Nathan Turner.

Central Washington will travel to preseason North Central Conference favorite and number three nationally-ranked North Dakota for its NCC opener next Saturday (Sept. 15) at the Alerus Center. The Wildcats will then return home on Sept. 22 to face Minnesota Duluth.