Nov 14, 2015
No. 12 Humboldt State football ended its regular season with a 29-13 win over arch rival Western Oregon. The victory clinched the Lumberjacks a spot in the NCAA Division II Playoffs and will likely ensure a home playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 21.
MONMOUTH, Ore. – No. 12 Humboldt State football ended its regular season with a 29-13 win over arch rival Western Oregon. The victory clinched the Lumberjacks a spot in the NCAA Division II Playoffs and will likely ensure a home playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 21.
“We showed today that we are the best team in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in 2015,” said Head Coach Rob Smith. “We are so excited to represent Humboldt State and Humboldt County in the national playoff.”
The win over regionally-ranked Western Oregon improves the Green and Gold overall record to 9-1. Saturday’s result also gave the Jacks their first win in Monmouth since the 2010 season.
The Wolves’ struck first and looked energized after honoring their senior class during a pregame celebration. Maurice McSwain got behind the Jacks secondary and caught a 71-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Phillip Fenumiami. The score gave Western Oregon a 7-0 advantage with 5:25 to play in the first quarter.
HSU came out of the gates with a balanced offensive attack, but turned to the conference’s leading rusher, sophomore Ja’Quan Gardner, to get on the board. Gardner bolted 48 yards to pay dirt on his eighth carry and evened the score at 7-7 after 15 minutes of play.
Quarterback Robert Webber orchestrated a 13-play, 66-yard drive to open the second quarter. He connected on a pair of first-down throws during the drive; a 15-yard pass to Marquise Deadwiler and a 10-yard strike to Chase Krivashei. Kicker Cameron Southward punctuated the drive with a 30-yard field goal to extend to put HSU ahead 10-7.
On their next drive, a 50-yard carry by Gardner put the Jacks in the red zone. A 16-yard screen pass from Webber to running back Richard Doctor put the Green and Gold on top by 10, 17-7.
All of the momentum was going the Green and Gold’s way as they regained possession of the football at the WOU 42 with less than 3 minutes remaining until halftime. Defensive back Daniel Castro blocked a Wolves punt to set up the ideal field position. The Jacks worked their way inside the 9-yard line with under a minute to go following a pass interference penalty in the end zone. On first-and-goal, Webber fired a laser to a leaping Sage Burmeister in the back of the end zone, but the touchdown was waived off. Webber ended the half with a pass into traffic, which was picked off by linebacker Shane Kuenzi.
HSU won the time of possession battle in the first half. The Jacks controlled the pace of game and held onto the football for 17:51 compared to 12:09 for the Wolves. Gardner finished the first half with 182 rushing yards on 22 carries and averaged 8.3 yards per rush.
It was all Jacks in the second half as Southward split the uprights with a 47-yard field goal on the North Coast team’s first drive. He finished the game 3-for-3 on field goal opportunities.
The Wolves were unable to contain Gardner as he continued to make a difference late into the game. He ran for a 5-yard touchdown with four minutes to go in the third quarter. The Ceres, Calif., native ended the regular season finale with 38 carries for 261 yards and two touchdowns. It was his fifth game of the year with 200-plus rushing yards and brought his season total to 1,994.
Southward booted a 37-yard field goal with 12:43 remaining in the contest. His field goal finished the Green and Gold’s 29-0 run after surrendering the first points of the game.
Western Oregon scored a touchdown as time expired, and the officials waived off an extra point attempt to make the score 29-13.
Donte Haddock stepped up his game and helped the secondary dominate the Wolves despite the loss of defensive back Chris Hannible last weekend. Haddock had a pair of interceptions to go with three tackles.
Linebacker Cameron Buell was the Jacks leading tackler and finished with nine stops, including a tackle for loss. He was also one of four HSU players with a pass breakup. Senior Dillon Huffman was a force on the defensive line and notched a sack and forced a fumble.
HSU will learn its postseason destiny Sunday afternoon. Fans and community members are invited to a free watch party held in the Kate Buchanan room on the HSU campus from 2-3 p.m. Lumberjack players and coaches will be on hand to watch the NCAA Division II Football Playoff Selection Show.