The encore to victory didn’t go as planned for Simon Fraser.
Coming off its first GNAC triumph in five seasons last week at Azusa Pacific, the football Clan were certainly working towards giving an excellent account of themselves Saturday as they faced the host, powerhouse Central Washington Wildcats in chilly Ellensburg.
The ‘Cats, however, were all claws, emerging with a decisive 62-10 victory over an SFU group that was forced to play without starting quarterback Brandon Niksich, who was knocked from the game with a hand injury late in the opening quarter.
“What you saw was our team going up against a very veteran group that is finding its groove,” said Ford of facing a Central Washington team that, at 3-1, has the inside lane to the GNAC title over the final two games of the conference regular season.
“We had a bit of a hangover from last week,” Ford continued. “We were excited about getting a win, but tonight, we weren’t able to switch to another gear, and you have to against a high-quality team like that.”
Niksich, who threw a pick and never got into the flow offensively took a helmet to his throwing hand, and was replaced the rest of the way by senior back-up Mihai Lapuste.
“After he took that helmet to his hand, he couldn’t really grip the ball,” said Ford. “It’s not going to be a lingering thing. It wasn’t to one of the fingers, but it got swollen so it was an easy decision.”
Lapuste the former Handsworth Royal from North Vancouver, led the team’s only touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
His big 24-yard completion to receiver Riley Morrison helped set the table for a dandy four-yard cut-and-run scamper to the end zone by Solomon Hines.
David Eisenkraft added the point-after and kicked a 22-yard field goal in the loss.
Michael Roots was a force for CWU, carrying 14 times for 221 yards and three touchdowns, while quarterback Christian Moore threw four TD strikes.
Simon Fraser now returns home after spending the entire month of October on the road, going 1-3 in the process.
It will be home, sweet home over the final two games of the GNAC season, and it begins this Saturday (1 p.m.) at Swangard Stadium against Western Oregon (3-1).
“I would argue that we had the toughest schedule in the entire (NCAA),” said Ford. “There was not a team in America that spent an entire month on the road, so it’s going to be nice to be in the friendly confines and get back in front of our home fans.”
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