A tornado of turnovers did in the Simon Fraser Clan on Saturday afternoon in Monmouth, Ore.
Seven interceptions by the Western Oregon defence tied a Great Northwest Athletic Conference single-game record from 2011, as the Clan (1-4, 0-3) remained winless in conference play following a 54-13 loss to the host Wolves.
Six of those interceptions were thrown by SFU’s rookie quarterback Justin Seiber, who was making his second straight start coming off of last week’s 63-10 loss at home to Central Washington. That tied an individual conference record set by SFU quarterback Greg Bowcott in a 2016 game against Central Washington.
Yet the Clan’s struggle to protect the football extended to four fumbles, only one of which they were able to recover against a Western Oregon team which scored 33 of its 54 points off of Clan turnovers. The total of 10 takeaways gained by Western Oregon broke the previous record of eight by Central Washington in a 2005 game against Westen Oregon.
“I think our kids battled the entire time,” Clan head coach Thomas Ford said after the setback. “But when you have that level of self-inflicted wounds you can’t win and I don’t care who you have playing for you…you could have the Seahawks playing for you.”
Interestingly enough, the Clan actually caused the first turnover of the game when Griffin Barrett jarred the ball loose from Wolves’ running back Nic Jackson.
Clan corner Jaryn Bailey recovered it at the Clan 18-yard line, but three plays later, Seiber threw a 25-yard pick-six that ignited a 54-point first half for the hosts.
Seiber hung tough for three quarters, going 21-of-37 for 198 yards and one touchdown.
That scoring strike was an eight-yard pass to fellow Clan quarterback, senior Miles Richardson, who before spelling Seiber in the fourth quarter, did a pretty fair impersonation of an All-GNAC receiver, catching eight passes for 101 yards and a score.
“He is arguably the best athlete on the team and he’s played receiver before,” said Ford. “He knows all the routes and he showed great concentration catching the ball. He could be a very dynamic receiver.”
Richardson was just 2-of-6 for 32 yards and threw the team’s seventh interception as he assumed signal-calling duties in the fourth quarter.
Interestingly enough, Wolves’ starting quarterback Ty Currie played through the third quarter despite his team’s big lead, and the Simon Fraser defence did not allow a point over the entire second half.
The Clan’s other major came off a 50-yard fumble recovery return for a TD by Isaac Evans just under three minutes into the second half.
“I think a couple of those turnovers weren’t really on him,” Ford added of Seiber, who was picked four times and also fumbled after taking a hit, all in the first quarter. “On one, I felt the receiver needed to challenge for the ball, on another it tipped off of a helmet, and then later, another was tipped. Take those away and that’s still three, but he was in there trying to make plays and maybe did a little too much. I think Justin’s a really good player who just had an off day.”
Ford has not named his starter for this Saturday’s contest in Arcata, Cal., against the Humboldt State Broncos. He said the battle to see who starts will once again be determined through this coming week’s practices.
“It’s definitely a competition,” he said. “And if it’s Justin, then Miles will be a receiver.”
Again, the Clan’s positive efforts were overshadowed by a gruesome start.
In fact on most days, their first quarter defensive effort, which included a fumble recovery Bailey and later a pick by Shea Carstens, would have been enough to give the Clan some healthy momentum.
“We did some good things on defence,” Ford said. “We forced three or four turnovers on our end. We’re improving but we have to put a complete game together.”
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