MONMOUTH, Ore. — A conference title wasn’t the only thing on the line Saturday for Central Washington.
Coach Chris Fisk said the Wildcats were playing for pride at Western Oregon, three weeks after losing to the Wolves at home for the first time in more than two decades. Given a second chance, Central showed its resiliency in a 42-41 overtime win, erasing a 14-point deficit in the final six minutes of regulation.
“We felt like we let our alumni and our former players down in our first performance against those guys,” Fisk said. “We talked all week about getting redemption.”
Those efforts got off to a rough start when Western Oregon scored twice in barely three minutes. But Central clawed its way back and tied the game at 21 in the second quarter on a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Samuel Sanchez, his first catch in three games.
Poor conditions and an inconsistent running game put more pressure on sophomore Christian Moore, who responded by completing 32 of 52 passes for 332 yards and four touchdowns. The last one came on a 12-yard pass to Jojo Hillel with 58 seconds left, capping off a four play, 59-yard drive that took just 44 seconds.
Moore and the Wildcats’ offense didn’t get much of a chance for a comeback in Ellensburg, when Western Oregon’s powerful running game held the ball for the final eight minutes. This time Central’s defense forced two three and outs while trailing by seven to set up the improbable rally.
That momentum carried into overtime, when running back Michael Roots finally found the end zone on his last run of a day that saw him record season-lows of 73 yards on 13 carries. A defensive pass interference on fourth down set up a Western Oregon touchdown, but the Wolves tried to go for two and failed, setting off a raucous Central celebration.
“It was a rollercoaster for sure,” Fisk said. “It’s been kind of how they’ve been all year that even when the chips have been down they have been fighting all year long.”
Central’s run defense struggled once again in tough conditions on a muddy field to contain the GNAC’s top rushing attack, which gained 255 yards. WOU quarterback Ty Currie ran for 100 yards and threw for four touchdowns, but three Wildcat interceptions halted drives in their own territory.
Tony Archie led all receivers with 11 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown to help CWU earn its second straight win and hand Western Oregon its first GNAC loss. The Wildcats (2-1 GNAC, 3-4 overall) could move into a tie for first place with a win next week at home against Simon Fraser, which snapped a 15-game losing streak with a win over Azusa Pacific on Saturday.
WOU — Jarren Ford 75 pass from Ty Currie (Andrew Gross kick), 14:42
WOU — Evander Willingham 18 pass from Currie (Gross kick), 11:56
CWU — Christian Moore 5 run (Patrick Hegarty kick), 0:46
WOU — Marquis Sampson 22 pass from Currie (Gross kick), 13:06
CWU — Tony Archie 7 pass from Moore (Hegarty kick), 7:39
CWU — Samuel Sanchez 14 pass from Moore (Hegarty kick), 4:41
WOU — Currie 44 run (Gross kick), 1:42
WOU — Sampson 3 run (Gross kick), 5:02
CWU — Kaiden Hammond 5 pass from Moore (Hegarty kick), 5:55
CWU — Jojo Hillel 12 pass from Moore (Hegarty kick), 0:58
CWU — Michael Roots 1 run (Hegarty kick)
WOU — Willingham 2 pass from Currie (pass failed)
Time of Possession=31:06=28:54
RUSHING—CWU, Roots 13-73, Moore 10-60, Rey Green 9-28, Hillel 1-9, Hegarty 1-3. WOU, Omari Land 16-104, Currie 10-93, Nico Jackson 12-57, Sampson 1-3.
PASSING—CWU, Moore 32-52-2-332. WOU, Currie 12-27-3-242.
RECEIVING—CWU, Archie 11-131, Tyson Rainwater 6-84, Drake Owen 2-39, Hillel 4-38, Sanchez 1-14, Roots 6-13, Mykel Campbell 1-8, Hammond 1-5. WOU, Ford 3-121, Thomas Wright 4-53, Sampson 1-22, Willingham 2-20, Jackson 1-16, Justice Murphy.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.