Wildcats, Lumberjacks To Play For Title In Front Of Nation
The Nov. 11 Division II Football Showcase game features two of the GNAC's top quarterbacks in Central Washington's Reilly Hennessey (left) and Humboldt State's Robert Webber.
The Nov. 11 Division II Football Showcase game features two of the GNAC's top quarterbacks in Central Washington's Reilly Hennessey (left) and Humboldt State's Robert Webber.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – The 2017 GNAC football championship will be decided on Saturday, Nov. 11, when No. 17 ranked Humboldt State hosts No. 7 Central Washington. The title will also be decided with the eyes of the nation on it.

The contest at the Redwood Bowl in Arcata, Calif., has been selected as one of four flex games added to the NCAA Division II Football Showcase and will be streamed nationally on ESPN3 and the ESPN app. It is the second GNAC game this season to be featured as part of the Division II package.

It is the second time that both the GNAC and Central Washington have been selected to play in a game featured in the showcase. The Wildcats hosted Azusa Pacific in the live streamed game last week, with CWU beating the Cougars 34-23.

Central Washington (9-0, 6-0 GNAC) is looking for its first GNAC championship since 2012 and its first berth in the postseason since 2009. The Wildcats will assure themselves of no less than a tie for the GNAC title with a win this Saturday at Simon Fraser. Humboldt State aims for its first conference crown since 2015, the same year the Lumberjacks earned their first NCAA Division II playoff appearance.

The game will feature two of the top offenses not only in the GNAC, but in all of Division II football. Humboldt State leads the GNAC in total offense and passing. The Lumberjacks are seventh in Division II with 502 yards of total offense per game while their 292 passing yards per game is 15th nationally. The team’s 189.60 pass efficiency ranking is second in Division II.

Humboldt State (7-1, 6-1 GNAC) is led by senior quarterback Robert Webber, who enters this week ranked 16th in Division II with 276.8 passing yards per game and 25th with 277 total offense yards per game. Webber’s pass efficiency rating of 192.3 is second best of all Division II quarterbacks. Senior running back Ja’Quan Gardner has broken six GNAC career records this season. He ranks third nationally with 205.6 all-purpose yards per game, is fourth with 149.4 rushing yards per game and is second with 17 rushing touchdowns. Gardner has six games with 100 or more yards rushing this season.

Central Washington leads the GNAC and is 14th in Division II in rushing offense, averaging 230.9 yards per game. The Wildcats are second to Humboldt State in the GNAC in total offense and 23rd in Division II with 456.6 yards per game. Central Washington, however, excels on defense. The Wildcats lead Division II with 4.44 team sacks per game, are third in rushing defense with 64.6 yards allowed per game, fourth in interceptions with 16 and fifth in total defense with 263.7 yards allowed per game.

Junior transfer quarterback Reilly Hennessey has excelled since transferring from Division I-FCS power Eastern Washington. The junior ranks third in the GNAC and 28th in Division II in total offense, averaging 269.9 yards per game, and ranks fourth in the GNAC with 215.8 passing yards per contest. Senior Austin Pernell has emerged as the leader of the rushing game, ranking second in the GNAC with 66.2 rushing yards per game. Defensively, linebacker Kevin Haynes set the GNAC career record for solo tackles last week and defensive lineman Billy Greer is ranked in the Division II top-30 in both sacks and tackles for loss.

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