CWU's Season Ends in 41-21 Loss to Defending ChampsPosted: Updated:
ALLENDALE, Mich - Central Washington sophomore Johnny Spevak (Edgewood/Puyallup HS) hauled in 10 catches for 134 yards and junior quarterback Mike Reilly (Kalispell, Mont./Flathead HS) threw for three touchdowns but top-ranked Grand Valley State raced out to a 27-0 first half lead and eventually defeated the Wildcats, 41-21, in the NCAA Division II Northwest Region final on Saturday afternoon at Lubbers Stadium in Allendale, Mich.
Central Washington finished the 2007 campaign with a 10-3 overall record, marking the sixth time in school history that the Wildcats have finished with 10 or more wins in a season. Grand Valley State, who has won its 40th consecutive game, improves to 12-0 on the season and will take on Northwest Missouri next weekend in the NCAA Division II National Semifinals.
Grand Valley State scored on its opening possession with a 3-yard quarterback keeper by Brad Iciek, capping an eight play, 66 yard drive that took only 3:16 off the clock. Central Washington then committed three turnovers on its first three possessions (two fumbles and an interception) in which the Lakers were able to only capitalize once -- a 16-yard pass from Iciek for Antione Trent to go up 13-0 with 8:00 left in the first quarter. Iciek rushed for two more touchdowns in the first half with runs of 5- and 2-yards to take a 27-0 lead into the halftime break.
The Wildcats only managed to gain 59 yards through the air and rushed for -13 yards in the first half.
On the opening possession of the second half, Central Washington capped a nine play, 67 yard scoring drive. Reilly found Spevak for a 17-yard score to make the score 27-7. GVSU countered on its next drive when Iciek found Mike Koster for a 20-yard strike for a touchdown, increasing the Laker lead to 34-7.
In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats were able to cut into the deficit when Reilly connected with sophomore Brandon Stout (Tacoma/Bellarmine Prep HS) on a 9-yard pass making the score 34-14. The Lakers once again scored on the next drive on another keeper by Iciek from 5 yards out. Senior Charles Smith (Lemon Grove, Calif./Helix HS) then caught his first career touchdown -- a 22-yard pass from Reilly with 1:30 left in the contest.
Grand Valley State held the Central Washington running game to a dismal 38 yards, the second lowest output by the Wildcats this season. Reilly was able to throw for 275 yards on 27-of-45 passing with the three aforementioned touchdown passes. He was intercepted twice. Stout had five catches for 37 yards as sophomore Matt Snell (Yakima/East Valley HS) brought in three receptions for 36 yards.
Freshman Anthony Le (Lacey/Timberline HS) led the Wildcat defense with 13 tackles, complemented by sophomore Jerome Williams (Seattle/Ballard HS) and senior Chris Hemphill (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra HS) with 12 and 10 stops, respectively. Williams also had a fumble recovery as did junior Nate Pirak (Edmonds/Meadowdale HS).
The Lakers finished with 473 yards of total offense compared the CWU's 313. Iciek threw for 176 yards on 14-of-22 as running back Blake Smollen rushed for 200 yards on 20 carries. Brandon Horn led GVSU's receiving core, catching six Iciek passes for 92 yards.
Central Washington, who will lose 16 seniors to graduation next year, went 10-3 on the year and finished third in the North Central Conference (6-2). The Wildcats will return to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference next season that will include teams from Western Washington, Western Oregon, Humboldt State and Dixie State (Utah).
NOTES: Reilly moved into second place on the all-time single-season passing list with 3,386 yards on the season.