CWU Football: Wildcats final drive not enough in 21-14 home-opening loss to Texas A&M-Kingsville
BY EVAN THOMPSON, Online Editor
With 55 seconds remaining on the clock, down 21-14 with zero timeouts left, redshirt freshman Justin Lane had the chance to end his first start ever with a victory.
And it looked as if he was going pull it off, too. With the ball on Central’s 20-yard line, Lane passed to redshirt freshman receiver Jesse Zalk for a nine yard pickup, stopping the clock at 49 seconds. The next play, he completed another pass, this time a 38-yard strike down the sideline to sophomore receiver DJ Richardson. Three penalties over the course of the next seven plays helped the Wildcats advance to the 16-yard line.
But one play, one major mistake, put the ball and the victory in the hands of the Javelinas. On what was supposed to be zone run to the right, Lane fumbled the exchange from junior center Marshall Green which was recovered by Texas A&M with 16 seconds remaining on the clock.
The final buzzer rang, with the Javelinas coming out on top, 21-14.
“I don’t know if was nerves between me and the center, but I should have got the ball,” Lane said.
Central had their lowest output of offense since 2006 in their 21-14 season-opening loss against Texas A&M Kingsville at Tomlinson Stadium on Saturday.
The Wildcats defense and ground attack were the highlights of the day.
Junior linebacker Ride Nielsen scored the first touchdown of the game by way of a pick six, snatching a pass over the middle from Javelinas’ freshman quarterback Alex Rios and returning it 51 yards for the score.
The Javelinas answered Central’s score when junior receiver Anthony Washington rushed for a 60-yard touchdown, tying the game at 7-7.
The teams traded touchdowns again when the Javelinas receiver senior receiver Robert Armstrong caught a 15-yard touchdown pass, which was answered when sophomore running back Jordan Todd scored on a six-yard run.
Todd finished the day with 28 rushes for 127 yards and one touchdown.
Senior preseason All-American free safety Stan Langlow was everywhere on the field. Langlow finished with a team-high 13 tackles, with one tackle for loss. Sophomore corner Isaiah Davis finished second with 10 total tackles, while also making an impact in the return game.
Davis returned a punt return for a touchdown early in the game, but a penalty on the Wildcats overturned it. Davis still managed to return for 147 total yards.
Central gained only 201 total offensive yards, while the Javelina’s racked up 352 yards of their own.
Perhaps the biggest game changer came with 6:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. What looked like was going to be a standard field goal attempt, senior kicker Matt Stoll carried out the fake by running 17 yards to the left pylon for the score.
“I think that the team played hard, I’m happy about the effort,” head coach Jon Picha said. “We had some mistakes that we need to overcome and we’ll do that. In order to get better, you need to cure your mistakes, and that’s our goal.”
Central opens Great Northwest Athletic Conference play next week versus Western Oregon on Sept. 14 at Tomlinson Stadium.