Comeback Performance Earns CWU Team Of The Week
The Wildcats bounced back from a 10-0 first-quarter deficit to win its season opener, 34-10.
The Wildcats bounced back from a 10-0 first-quarter deficit to win its season opener, 34-10.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Despite falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, Central Washington football capped the day with 34 unanswered points to capture its regular season opener, 34-10, against Texas A&M Kingsville on Sept. 2. The performance earned the Wildcats the first Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week honors for the 2017-18 season.

With just 31 seconds played in the second quarter, Central Washington’s Nate Rauda put his team on the board with a nine-yard touchdown reception that capped off an 11-play, 81-yard drive that began late in the first quarter. Christian Cummings gave the Wildcats the lead just eight seconds before halftime after pushing through for a one-yard touchdown run, 14-10. Central Washington shut out Texas A&M Kingsville in the second half, totalling five sacks in the contest.

“We went down early in the game.  Kingsville broke off a big run, and we made some bad decisions that resulted in penalties and big plays, but our guys rallied and put together three-plus quarters of quality football,” Central Washington head coach Ian Shoemaker said.  “When you hold a team to one third down conversion in a game, it has a huge impact; not only on your confidence, but to the confidence of your opponent.  After that feeling-out period in the first quarter, our defense really got going and spent a lot of time in the Kingsville backfield.” 

Texas A&M Kingsville ended 2016 winning its final seven games and is projected to finish third in the Lone Star Conference this season.

“Winning the first game of the season is always important, but defeating a team of Kingsville’s caliber answers a lot of questions about our football team right of the bat,” Shoemaker added. “We still have a lot of questions that need to be answered, but I am proud of how our guys accepted the challenge in front of them and battled through some adversity to get a big victory in Texas.”

Central Washington quarterback Reilly Hennessey completed 12 of 25 pass attempts for 144 yards and a touchdown. Hennessey was on target early in the second quarter, as he completed nine-straight passes to put the Wildcats on the board, 10-7. The junior also rushed for 87 yards on 14 attempts with a long of 23. Cummings carried a majority of the worklaod, rushing for 58 yards on 16 attempts, recording a touchdown. Austin Pernell recorded eight carries, totalling 24 yards and a touchdown with 5:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. JoJo Hillel also logged a rushing touchdown and completed a 38 yard passing touchdown on his only attempt.

The Wildcats outrushed Texas A&M Kingsville 192-88 and forced an interception that was returned for 96 yards by CWU’s Jackson Huerta, who also totaled a team-high 12 tackles. Kevin Haynes and Tyler Hasty recorded eight and seven tackles, respectively.

Central Washington opens conference play on Sept. 9, as the Wildcats host Western Oregon at 1 p.m. at Tomlinson Stadium.