The Simon Fraser Clan may not have posed an imminent threat to the host and No. 21 nationally-ranked Central Washington Wildcats on Saturday night in Ellensburg.
Yet even as the visiting Clan (1-7, 0-6) was falling 60-19 to the reigning powerhouse of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, it was impossible not to appreciate the passing numbers that Canada’s NCAA team was putting up.
Clan senior quarterback Miles Richardson flirted with the all-time single-game GNAC passing yardage record, his 470 yards just 32 shy of the record of 502 put up by Humboldt State’s Robert Webber back in 2016.
Richardson was 27-of-46 en route to those numbers, throwing three touchdown passes while getting picked off twice.
And putting on the best performance of his entire football-playing career was former Vancouver College wide receiver Rysen John, the 6-foot-7 junior who has come into his own of late after battling through a bout of nagging injuries midway through the campaign.
John caught 12 passes for 234 yards, including a 55-yard major from Richardson that had the Clan trailing the Wildcats 32-13 at the half.
“Rysen was dominant,” said SFU head coach Thomas Ford. “He looked like the best receiver in the GNAC and that is ability he has.”
John’s confidence to beat defenders was undeniable, and it showed in the ways that he created problems for CWU’s talented corner Tyler Hasty, the Oregon State transfer.
“And Miles?” said Ford of his senior pivot. “He is just so athletic, and there is no question that he can throw. I thought he must be up around 400 yards.”
Yes, there was plenty of damage inflicted on SFU by the clear class of the conference, yet it is nothing that CWU has not done to the rest of the GNAC’s lodge brothers.
En route to a 6-0 conference mark, the Wildcats have beaten Western Oregon 50-17 and 48-10, and they blanked Humboldt State 49-0.
And to put SFU’s 425 yards of total offence on Saturday into some kind of perspective, it’s the second most yards Central Washington has allowed in its six GNAC games this season, just off the 446 put up by Azusa Pacific.
SFU took a 7-6 lead early on Richardson’s four-yard pass to tight end Spencer McCabe.
It’s only points of the second half came on an eight-yard pass from Richardson late in the fourth quarter to receiver Ethan Beselt.
Unfortunately from an SFU perspective, the success of the Clan’s passing game didn’t translate to its rushing attack.
Richardson was sacked nine times for 67 yards and those heavy losses contributed to the Clan going minus-45 yards along the ground.
As well, the Wildcats were unstoppable on the ground, rushing for 390 yards and a 7.4 ypc average.
“I think first and foremost, CWU has one of best offences in all of Div. 2 and they really ran the football at will,” said Ford of Michael Roots (117 yards) and Cedric Cooper (112 yards) who each broke the century mark and each rushed for two scores. “It doesn’t matter who they play, they have done it to everyone in the GNAC, and it was them hitting their stride and us really hit with a lack of depth. We’re pretty banged up right now.”
Yet if growth is also about celebrating your own successes, the Clan could take heart.
In its 63-10 loss to visiting CWU back on Sept. 22, SFU managed 295 yards in offence, 130 fewer than on Saturday. It’s also a massive improvement over its two losses against Central Washington a season ago.
That elusive first conference win?
The schedule falls the Clan’s way with its final two games at home, beginning with a Nov. 3 kick-off against Western Oregon at Terry Fox Field.
The regular season closes out Nov. 10 at home to Humboldt State.
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