MONMOUTH, Ore. (Sept. 15) -- Senior Johri Fogerson (Seattle, Wash./O'Dea HS) ran for a career-high 123 yards, including the game-tying and game-winning touchdowns, as the Central Washington University football team rallied for a 21-14 overtime victory over host Western Oregon University on Saturday afternoon at McArthur Field.
The Wildcats improved to 2-1 on the season, including 2-0 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference games. Western Oregon fell to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the GNAC.
Fogerson, a transfer from the University of Washington who scored four touchdowns in his CWU debut last week at Simon Fraser, scored on a nine-yard carry with 4:13 remaining in regulation to tie the game. He then scored the game-winner on his fourth carry of overtime -- and also the Wildcats' fourth play of the drive -- from 11 yards out.
"It was important for us to get some points on the board," CWU head coach Blaine Bennett said. "Johri's touchdown gave our defense a lot of energy. He played extremely well in the second half and was a 'man among boys' out there. Our plan in overtime was to give Johri the ball and let him run with it, and he answered the call."
The Wildcats' game-tying and eventual game-winning drives were set up by four key defensive possessions late in the game. CWU came up with a major stop when Western Oregon, with a 14-7 lead at the time, was knocking on the doorstep for a potential insurance score. Redshirt freshman Cedrique Chaney (Kelso, Wash.) dislodged the ball from the hands of WOU receiver Mark Moore, and senior Kevin Puckett (Pomona, Calif./Garey HS) returned the fumble 56 yards to give CWU excellent field position. Five plays later -- all Fogerson carries -- the senior broke numerous tackles and scored the first of his touchdowns. Senior Sean Davis (Federal Way, Wash./Todd Beamer HS) tied the score with his extra point conversion.
Western Oregon gained two first downs on the first four plays of its ensuing drive, but after the Wolves got into CWU territory, the defense held WOU to three straight incomplete passes and forced a punt.
The Wildcats sputtered on their next offensive series, failing to gain a first down on their three offensive plays and returning the ball to the Wolves with 55 seconds left. WOU again progressed into CWU territory, getting as close as the 36-yard line but after a penalty and a pair of incompletions, Western Oregon was forced to settle for a 58-yard field goal attempt by Kelly Morgan, which came up short. CWU then took a knee on its lone offensive play following the miss, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra session, the Wildcats' first OT period since Bennett's CWU debut on Aug. 30, 2008 at Dixie State, Fogerson had carries of one, 10, three, and 11 yards to get the ball into the end zone. Davis' extra point made it a seven-point margin with WOU to gain possession. On the Wolves' series, though, the Wildcat defense held WOU to a two-yard carry before an incompletion. Consecutive sacks and forced fumbles, the latter of which came on fourth down was recovered by CWU junior Donnie Johnson (Olympia/Capital HS), sealed the come-from-behind victory for the Wildcats.
"The defense came up huge for us today," Bennett said. "We were able to create some turnovers, and our defense made some huge stops when it counted -- especially late in the game. To be able to hold WOU to 14 points reflected how great of an effort our defense made our there.
The Wildcats finished with five takeaways, including Johnson's game-ending fumble recovery. Three of the takeaways belonged to Chaney, who had interceptions in each of the first three quarters including two picks in the end zone that thwarted potential WOU scoring drives.
"Cedrique played well, undoubtedly the best game of his young career," Bennett proclaimed. "(WOU) tried to take advantage of him, but he was able to come up with some huge plays for us that kept us in the game when our offense wasn't clicking particularly well in the first half."
The offense had just five possessions in the first half, two of which ended in punts and two others that resulted in interceptions thrown by senior quarterback Ryan Robertson (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS). The other first-half possession was a kneel-down to run out the clock.
CWU finally capitalized and got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter on a six-play, 94-yard drive that began after Chaney's third interception of the game. Robertson connected with senior Robert Akeo-Orr (Spanaway, Wash./Bethel HS) for a five-yard touchdown to cap the drive.
Robertson finished the game completing 24 of 37 passes for 220 yards, but tied a career-high with four interceptions. At least two of the picks came on deflected passes by the WOU defense.
"We had some critical interceptions," Bennett explained, "but a couple of those were on tipped passes. Ryan had an efficient game (in terms of completion percentage), but we have to do a better job overall on the offensive side of the ball."
CWU finished with a 459-390 disadvantage in total offensive yards, as the Wildcats were outgained in both the rushing (210-170) and passing (249-220) departments. They did finish with an edge in first downs (29-26) and time of possession (31:38 to 28:22) in the victory.
Helping to lead the Wildcats' defense were junior linebackers Riley Wall (Olympia, Wash./Capital HS) and Holman Faatili (Bellingham, Wash.), who each established career-highs with 11 tackles. Puckett added seven stops and Chaney totaled five tackles in addition to his interceptions and forced fumble.
Central Washington will finally make its 2012 home debut next Saturday (Sept. 22), opening a two-game home stand as it takes on Azusa Pacific University at 1 p.m. inside Tomlinson Stadium.