CWU Football Clinches GNAC Title With 51-19 Victory Over Dixie S - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

CWU Football Clinches GNAC Title With 51-19 Victory Over Dixie State

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From CWU Athletics

ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- On a day celebrating the final collegiate football game for 22 Central Washington University seniors, it was a combination of players old and young that helped lead the Wildcats to a 51-19 victory over Dixie State College of Utah at a chilly Tomlinson Stadium on Saturday.

The Wildcats, who finished their 2012 campaign with a 7-4 overall record, also secured the program's seventh Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship in the 10-year football-playing history of the conference with a 7-3 GNAC record. After earning at least a share of the title with its victory, CWU earned the crown outright after Humboldt State's 38-22 loss at Western Oregon University.

Senior quarterback Ryan Robertson (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) finished his four-year career with a bang, completing 18 of 19 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns, and 18 of the Wildcats' 20 pass receptions overall belonged to seniors playing their final game.

CWU set the tone early with the game's lone defensive touchdown at the 5:50 mark of the first quarter, as senior safety Kevin Puckett (Pomona, Calif./Garey HS) picked off his second pass of the season and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown. Both of Puckett's interceptions on the season came against Dixie State, and both were returned for scores as he had a 100-yard touchdown return in the Oct. 6 meeting between the two schools at St. George, Utah.

The youth of the Wildcats accounted for their first offensive touchdown, and three of the team's six offensive scores overall, as true freshman Jordan Todd (Bellevue, Wash./Interlake HS) scored on a 20-yard run to make it a 14-0 score. Todd later added scoring runs of one and 10 yards as part of a 29-carry, 192-yard day on the ground.

Dixie State got on the scoreboard with a 61-yard scoring pass from Griff Robles to Zack Fox with 11 seconds to go in the first quarter, but the Red Storm's extra point was blocked by junior Jake Tepper (Los Angeles, Calif./Ulysses S. Grant HS) and returned 96 yards by junior linebacker Ridge Nielsen (Mesa, Ariz./Mountain View HS). Tepper blocked the final Dixie State PAT attempt of the game as well.

Todd's second touchdown run accounted for the only scoring of the second quarter, giving the Wildcats a 23-6 halftime advantage. Robertson then had a pair of 17-yard touchdown passes in the third quarter -- both to senior wide receivers -- as Brandon Dunlap (Stockton, Calif./Edison HS) capped the opening drive of the half with his first score of the season and Robert Akeo-Orr (Spanaway, Wash./Bethel HS) then added to the lead with a touchdown grab of his own later in the period.

The lead reached 51-6 early in the fourth quarter after Todd had scored on the first play of the period and tight end Griffin Squires (Chehalis, Wash./W.F. West HS) then hauled in the only score of his senior season on a 59-yard catch-and-run. That pass from Robertson was the final toss of his career and enabled the signal-caller to tie a CWU school record with a 15th consecutive completion. Zak Hill also had 15 consecutive completions against Fort Lewis College (Colo.) in the 2002 season opener.

Todd's 192-yard performance was the highest yardage total of the rookie's season. He filled in admirably in the absence of senior Demetrius Sumler (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic HS), who had just five carries and six total touches after being slowed by an injury suffered in last weekend's win over Western Oregon.

Seniors Anthony Spain (Grants Pass, Ore./North Valley HS) and Tavoy Moore (Long Beach, Calif./Gahr HS) were the top two targets for Robertson, catching eight and four passes, respectively. Moore finished as the game's leader in receiving yardage with 77, while Spain added 58 yards on his eight grabs.

Dixie State, which had accumulated 583 yards of total offense in the first meeting of the year between the two teams, scored a pair of passing touchdowns in the final eight minutes with its back-up quarterbacks engineering those drives. CWU held the Red Storm to 333 yards of offense in Saturday's finale while totaling 480 yards of offense.

While CWU surpassed the 50-point plateau for the second time in its three games at Tomlinson Stadium this season, the defense also had numerous standout performances. The Wildcats registered 12 tackles for losses, led by junior defensive end Jerod Baker (Arlington, Wash.), who had four tackles for losses including three sacks. Junior Gabe Bruno (San Francisco, Calif./St. Ignatius Prep) led the Wildcats with nine tackles and added two more quarterback sacks in the contest. Nielsen and senior Louie Bruketta (Ellensburg, Wash./Kittitas HS) added eight tackles apiece.

The Wildcats wrapped up their season on Saturday, as they were not ranked among the top 10 in the NCAA Division II Super Region 3 this past week and will not move up enough to earn one of the top six positions in the super region for a post-season berth.

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