BY CHANCE WEEKS-WILLIAMS, Staff Reporter
The Central Washington University football team looked to finish the season with an exclamation point, and they did just that by thrashing the Dixie State Red Storm 44-0. The blowout win over Dixie State (4-7, 4-6 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) was the Wildcat’s fourth road win on the season, while they finished with only one loss away from home.
The Wildcat (7-4 overall, 7-3 GNAC) offense was on point and moved up and down the field with ease, earning their biggest margin of victory all year.
Central piled up 19 first downs, with 12 coming through the air. Freshman quarterback Jake Nelson played extremely efficiently, completing 8-12 passes with two touchdowns.
Nelson wasn’t the only one throwing for scores. Freshman wide receiver Jesse Zalk got the party started when he threw a 51 yard bomb to sophomore wide receiver, DJ Richardson, on a trick play for the first touchdown of the game.
Sophomore running back Jordan Todd was an absolute monster on the ground. Todd gained 226 yards rushing on 24 carries, averaging 9.4 yards per carry, with a 55-yard touchdown coming late in the second quarter. Todd outgained the entire Dixie State offense by 87 yards. Todd became just the 12th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
As a team, Central gained a total of 451 yards while averaging 7.6 yards per play. The outcome of the game could have been a lot worse for the Red Storm if Central had not turned the ball over as much. The Wildcats fumbled three times and lost two of them. However, Dixie State returned the favor by losing two fumbles.
As impressive as the offense was in the game, the defense was even better. Getting a shutout on the road is extremely hard, but the Wildcats were up to the task. Along with the two fumble recoveries, Central also intercepted the Dixie State quarterback twice. The DSU offense only totaled 139 yards on 59 plays, averaging only 2.4 yards per play.
Senior linebacker Ridge Nielsen and defensive lineman Austin Schnizler combined for six and a half sacks in their last games as Wildcats. Schnizler had four sacks and a forced fumble while Nielsen led all players with 10 tackles.
With the win, Central finished tied for second in the GNAC with Western Oregon and trailed first-place Azusa Pacific by two games.