Five turnovers by defense lead Central past Western Oregon, 20-7

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Turnovers lead to losses more times than not.

When it came to Central Washington University’s football game against Western Oregon on Saturday at Tomlinson Stadium, both teams had multiple turnovers. It turned into a question of who would capitalize off them.

Well, the answer was the Wildcats, who won both the game and the turnover battle in their 20-7 victory. Central improved to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, while Western Oregon dropped to 0-2 and 0-1.

Wildcats’ senior safety Deionte Gordon alone forced three turnovers, recording two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Central forced five turnovers altogether. Wolves junior quarterback Ryan Bergman threw three interceptions, the third of which belonged to sophomore defensive back Isiah Davis.

“The kids played well, we’re excited about that,” Central head coach John Picha said. “The offense was clicking a bit and we put up 20 points.”

The Wildcats had two turnovers of their own, however, both of which occurred in the second quarter. Central freshman quarterback Justin Lane threw two interceptions in the first half, which proved uncostly for the Wildcats.

On a positive note, Lane successfully led the Wildcats to their first two scores of the game. After the Wolves first possession of the game ended with a punt, a 25-yard completion on fourth-and-25 from Lane to redshirt freshman Tyler Stumph set the Wildcats up on the Wolves 10-yard line. Four plays later, senior running back Ishmael Stinson rushed the ball one yard for a touchdown with 6:49 remaining in the first quarter.

Less than two minutes later, Stinson rushed for another touchdown again, this time from two yards out, increasing the Wildcats lead to 14-0.

After Lane committed his second interception, Picha gave freshman backup quarterback Jake Nelson the nod. The decision would paid off Central.

Nelson finished 9-of-15 for 73 yards and one touchdown. The six-yard scoring pass from Nelson to redshirt freshman tight end Colter Clinch cemented the game with 2:59 remaining in the third quarter. Neither team would put up any more points.

“I thought (Nelson) facilitated the offense, made some drives,” Picha said. “That’s a great thing and I’m very glad for him and it’s a good thing for the offense.”

The Wolves scored their only points of the game on a Joe Harris one-yard rushing touchdown with 2:34 left in the fourth quarter.

Central’s strong point thus far this season has been its defense their defense. Picha believes it’s the cohesiveness of the defense that’s leading them to good results.

“The unity of (our defense),” Picha said. “Leadership is outstanding, and they come every day and want to play hard, they practice hard, and those are the things that make you a good team and that’s what is leading us so far.”

Senior and sophomore defensive linemen Gabe Bruno and Tovar Sanchez had two sacks apiece for the Wildcats.

“The (defensive backs) were doing a good job of staying in front of those big receivers,” Picha said. “I thought they did a great job out there.”

Central plays its third straight home game on Saturday against Simon Fraser University. Simon Fraser recently upset top-ranked GNAC competitor Humboldt State, 41-27, and was named GNAC Team of the Week.

Gordon was named player of the game for his performance. He stood and humbly waved back at the crowd cheering his name.

“I think I had an alright performance,” Gordon said. “It’s all glory to God, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t even be here. This is my second chance on this team, so I just want to thank my D-Line, the linebackers, because they just make it easy for me to make plays.”

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Five turnovers by defense lead Central past Western Oregon, 20-7