Oct. 16—ELLENSBURG — Central Washington understood its passing offense needed to be better after a disappointing loss to Western Oregon last Saturday.
With Midwestern State’s talented defense focused on stopping the run, it was even more urgent for Central to find a way to move the ball through the air without starting quarterback Quincy Glasper. Junior JJ Lemming and his receivers responded, helping give the defense plenty of energy to deny this week’s late rally attempt in a 17-10 win to celebrate Homecoming.
“Quarterback and receiver room we really just took it to heart, took it personal that we didn’t perform as well as we wanted to in the week before,” Lemming said after completing 26-of-36 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers. “We were getting extra workouts at practice and just a big attention to detail week this week in practice.”
Coach Chris Fisk put much of the blame for last week’s struggles on the receivers, noting seven drops out of Lemming’s 13 incompletions. The Wildcats caught nearly everything they got their hands on Saturday night, including a leaping catch by Davis graduate Marcus Cook in front a defender for 33 yards to spark the game-winning touchdown drive in the third quarter.
He caught two passes for 46 yards and also ran the ball three times for 16 yards. Fisk said Central wants to use Cook’s speed however it can, and his competitiveness makes him a strong runner despite his small stature.
“Running is so fun to me,” Cook said. “To be able to keep off the edge is crazy.”
Lemming led the Wildcats 65 yards for a touchdown on their first drive, finding success both through the air and with his legs. His 17-yard run helped Central convert a 3rd and 9 four plays before Tai-John Mizutani caught an eight-yard pass in the end zone on another third down.
The junior from Hawai’i who caught just eight passes in his previous three games, finished with team-highs of 10 receptions and 85 yards. Mizutani and Lemming have been close since they arrived on campus, frequently putting in extra reps after practice.
“Even when he’s not on the field he’s a great leader for us, great mentor for these younger guys,” Mizutani said. “I’m happy for him, happy to see him succeed.”
Demonte Horton caught five passes for 42 yards, including a three-yard catch in the back of the end zone against a defender who was called for pass interference. That finished 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, giving the Central defense plenty of time to rest.
Tanner Volk intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats’ second turnover of the game and they stopped Midwestern State’s last drive before it could even get started. Although the Mustangs racked up 140 rushing yards, they couldn’t run as well inside the red zone and never established much of a passing game.
Glasper appeared ready to come in if needed while warming up on the sideline at halftime, but Fisk said the coaching staff felt it would be in the dual threat sophomore’s best interest to take another week to recover. He’s still the unquestioned starter whenever he returns, possibly next week at West Texas A&M, but Lemming and his receivers proved they can still succeed with Glasper on the sideline.
“Those guys didn’t give up,” Fisk said. “They didn’t quit. They came back to work on Monday and it paid off for them so now we’ve got to build momentum.”
CWU — Tai-John Mizutani 8 pass from JJ Lemming (Jude Mullette kick)
CWU — FG Mullette 38
MSU — Ja’Marze Arvie 8 pass from Neiko Hollins (Ritse Vaes kick)
MSU — FG Vaes 28
CWU — Demonte Horton 3 pass from Lemming (Mullette kick)
RUSHING — MSU, Devin Cross 15-81, Trenton Kennedy 9-36, Peyton Shaw 4-23, David Clayton 1-4, Hollins 4-(minus-4). CWU, Tre’ Henderson 18-42, Lemming 5-36 Marcus Cook 3-16, Cameron Daniels 4-8, Scottland Vise 1-1.
PASSING — MSU, Hollins 8-14-1-69. CWU, Lemming 26-36-0-227.
RECEIVING — MSU, Arvie 5-46, Shaw 1-10, Quinci Jones 1-9, Cross 1-4. CWU, Mizutani 10-85, Cook 2-46, Horton 5-42, Peyton Glasser 4-30, Kaiden Hammond 2-9, Cameron Daniels 1-8, Henderson 2-7.
Reach Luke Thompson at email@example.com.
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