CWU loses opening playoff game

Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Leah Shepherd, Staff Reporter

“Why not us?” This was what head coach Chris Fisk said in his pre-game press conference on Wednesday. The number six seed Wildcats were considered the underdog against number three seed Northwest Missouri State (NWMS) going into the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II playoffs Saturday, so why not us? It didn’t seem to work.

CWU lost 50-21 on Saturday, Nov. 20, ending their short playoff run after one game in Maryville, Missouri. 

NWMS started with the ball. After a kick return that brought it to their own 44-yard line, NWMS quickly went down the field and scored a one-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Mike Hohensee. A missed extra point kept the score at 6-0.

CWU got the ball and proceeded to go three and out and punted the ball away.

NWMS got the ball back at its own 30 and once again proceeded to march down the field and score on a three-yard touchdown by senior running back Al McKeller. NWMS made the extra point and extended the lead to 13-0.

CWU got the ball back and got a first down from a 20 yard pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Quincy Glasper to redshirt senior tight end Samuel Sanchez. The drive eventually stalled and CWU had to punt again. 

NWMS got the ball, but CWU’s defense forced a fumble that was recovered by redshirt sophomore defensive back Jahleel Breland and returned to the NWMS 26-yard line. Two plays later, Glasper found fellow redshirt freshman running back Tyler Flanagan for an eight-yard touchdown and CWU cut the score to 13-7.

NWMS got the ball back and proceeded to pick apart the CWU defense, only having to convert two third down attempts on the drive, finishing it off with a 17-yard touchdown pass from junior backup quarterback Braden Wright to senior receiver Imoni Donadelle. 

After another CWU three and out, NWMS again went down the field where Wright found sophomore tight end Cole Hembrough for a 26-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 27-7 at the half.

CWU started the second half on offense and proceeded to go three and out and punted the ball back to NWMS. NWMS again picked the CWU defense apart and scored on a one-yard run by Wright on fourth and goal to make it 34-7. 

CWU got the ball back and once again had to punt it back after only three plays. NWMS once again went right down the field and scored on a 30-yard touchdown from Wright to Donadelle, his second of the game. 

CWU got the ball back and drove it all the way to the CWU 42-yard line when Flanagan fumbled and NWMS recovered.

The fourth quarter started with McKeller rushing for his second touchdown of the game, this one from 14 yards out to make the score 47-7.

Flanagan had two touchdown runs late in the fourth quarter, including a 94-yard kickoff return and a one-yard touchdown run. CWU became the first team this year to score more than 19 points against the NWMS defense. 

Flanagan had himself a day, combining for 346 all-purpose yards and accounting for every CWU touchdown.

Glasper finished the game with 12 completions on 23 attempts for one passing touchdown and two interceptions.

Breland led the team with 11 total tackles. Redshirt junior linebacker Daeon Hudson added nine of his own. Freshman safety Tanner Volk and redshirt senior defensive lineman Zach Stecklein each had eight.

It wasn’t enough to win as they would fall by a final score of 50-21.

CWU finished the year with an 8-3 overall record, a fourth straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship and momentum heading into next season.