CWU Clinches GNAC Title Outright, wins 38-31 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

CWU Clinches GNAC Title Outright, wins 38-31

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. - Central Washington University quarterback Mike Reilly (Kalispell, Mont./Flathead HS) threw for 359 yards, and cornerback Courtney Smith (Stockton, Calif./East Union HS) had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to lead the Wildcats to a 38-31 Homecoming football victory over visiting Western Oregon on Saturday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium.

The win clinched the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship outright for the Wildcats for the fourth time in the six-year history of the conference, improving their record to 8-1 overall and 7-0 in GNAC play. Western Oregon fell to 5-4 overall and 4-3 in league action.

The game was a see-saw affair, with each team starting the game with a field goal in the opening quarter. Western Oregon took the opening kickoff and went 77 yards on nine plays before a 20-yard field goal by Juan Rodriguez gave the Wolves a 3-0 lead. Central tied the score two possessions later, with junior Garrett Rolsma (University Place, Wash./Curtis HS) connecting on a 26-yard field goal with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.

Western Oregon regained the lead early in the second quarter, as Josh Riddell threw the first of his four touchdown passes for the game to Shaun Kauleinamoku -- a 25-yard scoring strike -- that gave the Wolves the largest (and last) lead of the game at 10-3. Central Washington responded on its next series, again tying the score on a one-yard pass from Reilly to Johnny Spevak (Edgewood, Wash./Puyallup HS). That duo then hooked up on a scoring pass play late in the half, connecting on a 45-yard touchdown with 1:13 remaining that put the Wildcats in front, 17-10, at halftime.

After the intermission, Central extended its run of unanswered points by scoring twice in the third quarter. Both times, the Wildcats found the end zone via one-yard runs -- the first by junior Jerome Morris (Los Angeles, Calif./Jefferson HS) at the 10:01 mark of the third quarter, and Reilly with just under five minutes remaining in the period -- to give Central a commanding 31-10 advantage.

Western Oregon rallied back, scoring consecutive touchdowns. The Wolves had a pair of big-play scoring passes from Riddell -- the first of which was to Justin Ore from 45 yards late in the third quarter. Riddell then connected with Isaiah Smith on a 35-yard TD toss early in the fourth quarter that brought the Wolves to within seven at 31-24. On the ensuing kickoff, Central's Courtney Smith went the distance, going 98 yards to score what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown and setting a new Great Northwest Athletic Conference record for longest kick return in the process. It also marked his second kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

The kick return touchdown marked the final points of the game for Central Washington, and it appeared that Western Oregon might make a late rally. The Wolves scored once more on a Riddell-to-Isaiah Smith pass with 1:41 remaining in the game to make it a 38-31 score, but the on-side kick that followed from the Wolves was recovered by Central's Spevak at the WOU 47 yard line. Two plays later, Morris had a 43-yard run inside the Wolves' 10 that sealed the victory.

Both quarterbacks had identical numbers for completions (22) and attempts (34) on Saturday. Reilly threw for 359 yards -- the fourth-highest single-game effort of his illustrious career -- while throwing just one interception. Riddell threw for 381 yards but was intercepted twice by the Wildcat defense, with Smith and Adam Bighill (Montesano, Wash.) each securing takeaways through the air.

Morris finished as the game's top ball carrier, logging 25 carries for 101 yards and becoming the first Central player to break the 100-yard rushing mark this season. The tandem of Spevak (10 catches for 166 yards) and senior Chris Rohrbach (Edmonds, Wash./Meadowdale HS; 7 catches for 112 yards) combined for 278 yards receiving, and only four CWU players had receptions in the contest. For Rohrbach, he matched a career-high in receptions and was one yard shy of his career-best mark for yards.

Western Oregon also had two receivers over 100 yards, led by Demario Ballard's seven receptions for 127 yards. Isaiah Smith had five catches for 101 yards and the two fourth-quarter touchdowns. The Wolves' ground attack was led by Ben Kuenzi with 67 yards on 17 carries.

Defensively, Central Washington did not record a quarterback sack for just the second time this season after coming into the game ranked second in the NCAA Division II in team sacks. The Wildcat defense was led by the linebacking duo of senior Chris James (Tacoma, Wash./Bellarmine Prep) and Buddy Wood (Chattaroy, Wash./Riverside HS) with 12 and 10 tackles, respectively. Wood also had a fumble recovery netting 14 return yards.

Matt Cox led Western Oregon with 13 total tackles, including 2 1/2 for losses, while Andrew Jackson and J.T. Gilmore each added 10 stops in a losing effort for the Wolves.

Central Washington, which has now won 10 consecutive meetings over Western Oregon in the head-to-head series, locked up a postseason berth with its win Saturday against the Wolves. Should they not be selected for the NCAA Division II postseason, the Wildcats would receive the conference's berth in the Dixie Rotary Bowl on Dec. 6 at St. George, Utah, by virtue of their outright GNAC championship. Central was ranked sixth in the NCAA Division II regional poll this past week, and should they remain in the top six at the end of the regular season, the Wildcats will secure a second consecutive trip to the NCAA playoffs.

CWU plays its final non-conference game of the 2008 season next Saturday (Nov. 1), traveling to Azusa Pacific University to take on the NAIA member Cougars. The Wildcats will then play their home finale on Nov. 8, taking on archrival Western Washington University in the 100th all-time football meeting between the two schools.

NOTES: Central improved to 51-27-2 all-time in Homecoming games ... The Wildcats extended their win streak against current GNAC football members to 24 games with Saturday's win ... With his first-quarter completion to Rohrbach, Mike Reilly broke Jon Kitna's career record for pass completions. Reilly now has 933 completions in his career, surpassing Kitna's previous mark of 911 ... Reilly broke the 3,000-yard mark in total offense for the season, marking the third time in his career to accomplish that feat. That milestone has only been met five times in CWU history ... Spevak became the second receiver in CWU history with 3,000 or more career receiving yards, and has 3,156 with at least three games remaining in his junior season ... Spevak is also second in career touchdown receptions (35) and is fifth in career scoring (212) ... Rolsma moved into sixth in career scoring with eight more points on Saturday. He now has 207 career tallies as the Wildcats' kicker, and broke Craig Warmenhoven's career record for extra-points made (Rolsma now has 114) ... Rolsma also set a new school and conference record for single-season kick scoring, upping his 2008 total to 85 points.   COLLEGE FOOTBALL NCAA DIVISION II/GREAT NORTHWEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE Central Washington 38, Western Oregon 31   Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Western Oregon......  3  7  7 14  - 31       Record: (5-4,4-3)
Central Washington..  3 14 14  7  - 38       Record: (8-1,7-0)
  Scoring Summary:
1st 10:19 WOU - Rodriguez,Juan 20 yd field goal, 9-77 4:41, WOU 3 - CWU 0
    02:03 CWU - Rolsma,Garrett 26 yd field goal, 8-62 3:02, WOU 3 - CWU 3
2nd 11:14 WOU - Kauleinamoku,Shaun 25 yd pass from Riddell,Josh (Rodriguez,Juan kick), 5-45 2:19, WOU 10 - CWU 3
    07:04 CWU - Spevak,Johnny 1 yd pass from Reilly,Mike (Rolsma,Garrett kick), 12-76 4:04, WOU 10 - CWU 10
    01:13 CWU - Spevak,Johnny 44 yd pass from Reilly,Mike (Rolsma,Garrett kick), 7-69 3:30, WOU 10 - CWU 17
3rd 10:01 CWU - Morris,Jerome 1 yd run (Rolsma,Garrett kick), 8-73 3:40, WOU 10 - CWU 24
    04:46 CWU - Reilly,Mike 1 yd run (Rolsma,Garrett kick), 9-55 3:41, WOU 10 - CWU 31
    02:18 WOU - Ore,Justin 45 yd pass from Riddell,Josh (Rodriguez,Juan kick), 6-77 2:21, WOU 17 - CWU 31
4th 13:11 WOU - Smith,Isaiah 35 yd pass from Riddell,Josh (Rodriguez,Juan kick), 5-69 1:34, WOU 24 - CWU 31
    12:56 CWU - Smith,Courtney 98 yd kickoff return (Rolsma,Garrett kick), , WOU 24 - CWU 38
    01:41 WOU - Smith,Isaiah 16 yd pass from Riddell,Josh (Rodriguez,Juan kick), 5-80 0:58, WOU 31 - CWU 38
                                      WOU      CWU
FIRST DOWNS...................       20       23
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   27-146   41-134
PASSING YDS (NET).............      381      359
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  34-22-2  34-22-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   61-527   75-493
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0     1-14
Punt Returns-Yards............      0-0      1-1
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     4-91    5-169
Interception Returns-Yards....      1-3      2-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............   4-34.5   2-36.0
Fumbles-Lost..................      1-1      4-1
Penalties-Yards...............    10-89     9-75
Possession Time...............    25:33    34:19
Third-Down Conversions........  7 of 13  6 of 13
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 1   2 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      3-5      4-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     2-16      0-0   RUSHING: Western Oregon-Kuenzi,Ben 17-67; Fuller,Patrick 5-33; Dickson,Cory 1-26; Riddell,Josh 4-20. Central Washington-Morris,Jerome 25-101; Reilly,Mike 10-34; Leonard,Justin 3-3; TEAM 3-minus 4.   PASSING: Western Oregon-Riddell,Josh 22-34-2-381. Central Washington-Reilly,Mike 22-34-1-359.   RECEIVING: Western Oregon-Ballard,Demario 7-127; Smith,Isaiah 5-101; Kauleinamoku,Shaun 3-45; Ore,Justin 2-69; Fuller,Patrick 2-12; Kuenzi,Ben 2-10; Fullerton,Sean 1-17. Central Washington-Spevak,Johnny 10-166; Rohrbach,Chris 7-112; Waller,Mike 4-58; Morris,Jerome 1-23.   INTERCEPTIONS: Western Oregon-Romanick,Gavin 1-3. Central Washington-Bighill,Adam 1-0; Smith,Courtney 1-0.   FUMBLES: Western Oregon-Riddell,Josh 1-1. Central Washington-Reilly,Mike 2-0; Smith,Courtney 1-0; Williams,Jerome 1-1.   SACKS (UA-A): Western Oregon-Cuellar,Justin 0-1; Cox,Matt 0-1; Smith,Levi 0-1; Gilmore,JT 0-1. Central Washington-None.   TACKLES (UA-A): Western Oregon-Cox,Matt 2-11; Jackson,Andrew 5-5; Gilmore,JT 4-6; Singleton,Caleb 5-3; Romanick,Gavin 2-4; Huber,Bryan 3-1; Douglas,Andy 2-2; Lynch,Lorin 1-2; Marin,Anthony 1-2; Dowd,Jon 2-0; Malone,John 2-0; Buchanan,Isaiah 1-1; Zoller,Kalani 1-1; Cuellar,Justin 0-2; Smith,Levi 0-2; Davis,Gerald 1-0; Gonzalez,Miguel 1-0; Bangay,Braden 1-0; Slowey,Jason 1-0; Robertson,Keith 1-0. Central Washington-James,Chris 3-9; Wood,Buddy 1-9; Bighill,Adam 3-4; Breitzman,Taylor 5-1; Jamerson,J.R. 4-1; Williams,Jerome 3-2; Gran,Jason 2-2; Oney,Andrew 1-3; Reffett,Mitch 1-3; Nielsen,Tyrell 2-1; Smith,Courtney 2-1; Togar,Sam 1-0.