Vikings return home to host Saint Mary's CA
Sept. 22, 2003
Bellingham, Wash. -
THIS WEEK:Western Washington University Vikings (0-3) vs. Saint Mary's College Gaels (0-3) at Civic Stadium (FieldTurf - 4,400 capacity) in Bellingham, Wash., on Sat., Sept. 27, at 12 noon, in a non-conference contest.
Western, off to an 0-3 start for the first time since 1988, lost 52-28 last week at Nebraska-Omaha, ranked No.19 in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II Top 25.
The Vikings were edged 23-20 in overtime at Western Oregon on Sept. 13 after falling in their season and home opener, 44-27, to No.8-rated St. Cloud State MN on Sept. 4.
Western has lost its last three contests at home, the first time that has happened since 1986-87 when the Vikings dropped four in a row.
Saint Mary's, which had a bye last week, also is winless in three outings this season. The NCAA I-AA independent Gaels lost 20-6 to Humboldt State in their home opener on Sept. 13. They opened the campaign with two lopsided road losses, 44-3 to Northern Arizona on Aug. 30 and 69-19 to Sacramento State on Sept. 6.
Saint Mary's, which has had three head coaches over the last five years, was 6-6 in 2002.
Western finished 6-4 last year, extending its school-record string of non-losing seasons to 12 (previous best was six). Its second-place finish in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference snapped a string of three straight league titles for the Vikings, who had won five conference championships in seven years.
SERIES HISTORY: Fourth meeting. Western has won all three previous meetings, 31-28 at Moraga, Calif., in 2002; 30-20 at Moraga in 2000 and 20-7 at Bellingham in 1999.
RADIO: KBAI (930 AM-Bellingham) is broadcasting all Western football games live this season with sports director Doug Lange handling the play-by-play duties for the eighth consecutive season. Providing the color commentary for the sixth straight year is former Viking quarterback Jason Stiles. The pre-game show, hosted by Mark Scholten, begins at 11:35 a.m. The KBAI broadcast can be picked up via the Internet at wwuvikings.com.
2002 RESULTS: Western finished 6-4 and placed second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings (2-1).
Saint Mary's was 6-6.
WESTERN REPORT: Despite the winless start, the Vikings have put up some impressive offensive numbers, averaging 445.7 yards a game, 340.7 through the air. In fact, they even have more first downs than their opponents, 73-69. The problem has been turnovers, as Western has committed an uncharacteristic 10 in three games, including losing six of seven fumbles, and the opposition has turned the ball over just twice.
Sophomore wide receiver Andy Olson has established himself as the top offensive threat. Olson already has 18 receptions for 433 yards with five touchdowns, averaging a remarkable 24.1 yards a catch, a mark 3.6 yards better than the school record for a full season. Senior wide receiver Ryan Van Diest has 13 catches for 225 yards, and senior slotback Nate Kuhns, who missed last week's game because of injury, has 10 receptions for 86 yards.
At quarterback, junior Steve Nichols has started all three games, completing 42-of-74 passes for 667 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Senior Josh Shimek has also seen extensive time, completing 28-of-52 attempts for 355 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The two combined to throw for 412 yards last week.
Leading the running backs is sophomore Duncan Sherrard, the 2002 GNAC co-Freshman of the Year, who has rushed for 256 yards and a touchdown on 56 carries. He runs behind an offensive line led by senior guard Jon Pagan and sophomore center Loren Winter, both returning starters.
Western has struggled on defense, allowing an average of 39.7 points and 493.7 yards a game, although the stop corps did perform well in the overtime loss at Western Oregon. Junior strong safety Rob White, the lone returning starter in the secondary, has a team-best 37 tackles and an interception, making 14 stops last week. He led the Vikings in tackles last year with 99.
Senior linebacker Lann Olson has 30 tackles, including a team-best five for loss, two of which were sacks. Junior linebacker Jesse Looker has 23 tackles, with 1.5 for loss. Along the line, ends JeVarian Gamble, a senior, and Joey Joshua, a sophomore, each have 13 stops, with Joshua having 2.5 for loss and Gamble 1.5.
On special teams, junior Michael Koenen is 4-of-7 on field goals, with six of the attempts coming from over 40 yards, and is 7-of-8 on extra points. Koenen, a consensus first-team NCAA II All-America punter last year, is averaging 41.8 yards a punt, and has sent nine kickoffs for touchbacks, including four last week. The Vikings have also done well on kickoff returns, averaging 27.4 yards per attempt. Sophomore Jake Carlyle has averaged 24.5 yards on 10 returns, and redshirt freshman Matt Wilson had four returns last week, averaging 34.8 yards.
SAINT MARY'S REPORT: The Gaels, who had a bye last week, are 0-3 under Vincent, their third head coach in the last five seasons. But after losing by large margins and allowing a total of 113 points in the first two games, they had their best effort of the season in a 20-6 loss to Humboldt State on Sept. 13, having a 364-252 edge in total offense.
Leading the Saint Mary's 3-4 defense are two experienced safeties. Senior Winston Borba, a preseason first-team All-America selection by Don Hansen's Football Gazette, has 296 career tackles and is tied for second in school history in career interceptions with 13. He has 24 tackles and an interception this year. Junior Greg Kavulich has 12 career interceptions, including seven last year. He has 12 tackles and an interception this season and leads the Gaels in pass breakups with four.
Junior linebacker Heath Villarreal, a starter at running back the last two years, has a team-high 31 tackles through the first three games, including two for loss. He had 16 tackles in the season-opening loss at Northern Arizona, earning I-AA Independent Defensive Player of the Week honors. Junior linebacker Ray Mike has 23 stops and two interceptions, returning one 66 yards for a touchdown against Sacramento State. A third linebacker, senior Anthony Woodards, leads in tackles for loss with four.
At quarterback is true freshman Parker Magnum, who has completed 39-of-74 passes for 349 yards, but has been intercepted nine times. Backup Zac Connors, a sophomore, has thrown for 169 yards and a touchdown. Their favorite target has been senior slotback Stephen Ratliff, who has had 15 receptions in the last two games after throwing seven passes as the backup quarterback in the season opener.
Junior running back Clint Wilson has rushed for 221 yards and a touchdown on 43 carries, and also has six receptions. Wilson ran for a school-record 1,100 yards last year.
Senior punter Ben Antongiovanni is averaging 41.6 yards a punt. Kavulich is averaging 14.7 yards on three punt returns.
NOTES: Western is 4-6 versus NCAA I-AA schools, with three wins over Saint Mary's and one against Cal Poly. The losses have been to Eastern Washington, Montana, Montana State, Nevada-Reno and twice to Portland State ... The 69 points Saint Mary's allowed against Sac State were the most the Gaels had allowed since restoring football in 1967, although they did suffer a 127-0 loss to Cal in 1920 ...Cornerback Bryan Jarrett is the first true freshman to see action for Western since Nate Kuhns did so in 2000. Jarrett, who is starting, has 11 tackles and two pass breakups, and blocked a potential game-winning field goal in the dying seconds of regulation at Western Oregon ... Saint Mary's was a college football power in the first half of the 20th century, beating Texas Tech, 20-13, in the 1939 Cotton Bowl and falling to Oklahoma A&M, 33-13, in the 1946 Sugar Bowl. In 1945, Gaels' halfback Herm Wedemeyer finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. The program was shut down for 17 years, however, in 1950 ... Western had six turnovers against Western Oregon. The last time the Vikings did that was Nov. 8, 1997 in a 36-22 loss at Central Washington ... Western has lost its last four games, three this season and the final contest of 2002. The last time the Vikings did that was in 1986 when they dropped seven straight ... Western's next three opponents have a bye week before playing the Vikings.
INJURY REPORT: Wide receiver Nate Kuhns and defensive tackle Nick Ball both missed the Nebraska-Omaha game with a shoulder injury and quad contusion, respectively. Both are expected back this week. Defensive end Derek Noble will be out another one or two weeks after suffering a leg injury against Western Oregon. Quarterback Steve Nichols sprained his knee versus Nebraska-Omaha, but is expected to practice by mid-week and be available to play.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Smith calls Western's 2003 schedule "the most challenging" in school history. The Vikings play three NCAA I-AA schools, two of which, UC Davis and Northern Colorado, are beginning their first year of provisional status after being longtime NCAA II powers. There are two games against teams from the rugged North Central Conference, St. Cloud State and Nebraska-Omaha. As well, the Vikings have two regular-season matchups with archrival Central Washington, which was 11-1 last year.
KOENEN NAMED TO FOUR PRESEASON A-A TEAMS: Junior Michael Koenen was named to four preseason All-America teams as a punter, being honored by Street & Smith, Don Hansen's Football Gazette, Lindy's Football Annuals and D2Football.com. He was a first-team Daktronics, D2Football.com and Football Gazette All-American last fall, and second-team Associated Press Little All-America. Koenen led DII in punting with school-record 44.9 average. He also holds school marks for longest punt (73 yards), longest field goal (54 yards), consecutive field goals (8), and consecutive PAT conversions (40). Koenen ranks No.11 among school's career scoring leaders with 143 points, converting 80-84 PATs and 24-40 field goals.
MILESTONES: Rob Smith needs five wins to become the first coach in Western history to reach 100. Only two four-year collegiate coaches have reached that figure while coaching in the state of Washington, those being Frosty Westering at Pacific Lutheran (250) and Don James at Washington (153). Smith currently ranks fourth, with Washington's Jim Owens third with 99.
COACHES: Rob Smith (Washington, 1981) is in his 15th year as head coach and his victory total (95-49-1) and winning percentage of 65.9 are the best in Western history. Smith has directed the Vikings to their only five national playoff berths in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999, and guided them to their best regular-season (No.1, 1995) and final (No.1, 1995) national rankings. He was named GNAC Coach of the Year in 2001, Columbia Football Association Coach of the Year in 1989, 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2000, and American Football Coaches Association College Division Region V Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1996.
Vincent White (Stanford, 1983) is in his first year as head coach at Saint Mary's and is 0-3. White took over the Gaels' program after 17 seasons as an assistant coach, most recently with University of Utah for the last two years. With the Utes, he coached the running backs, helping lead the team to a victory over USC in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl. As a running back at Stanford, White led the nation in receptions as a senior in 1982, catching 69 passes. He totaled 1,275 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns en route to first-team all-PAC-10 and honorable mention All-America honors.
WESTERN NATIONAL STATS RANKINGS (AS OF SEPT. 16)
TEAM: Total Offense - 27. 423.0, Passing Offense - 9. 305.0 INDIVIDUAL: Passing Efficiency - 34. 140.4; Total Offense - 21. Steve Nichols, 261.5, Receiving Yards - 16. Andy Olson, 123.0; Field Goals - 25. Michael Koenen, 1.0; Punting - 18. Michael Koenen 41.3; Tackles - 27. Rob White, 11.5. Solo Tackles - 31. Rob White, 6.0; Forced Fumbles - 25. Joey Joshua, 0.5.
NEXT WEEK: Western meets arch-rival Central Washington in the first Battle in Seattle on Sat., Oct. 4 (6 p.m.) at Seahawks Stadium.
BATTLE IN SEATTLE: Western and Central Washington play each other twice in 2003, but with a unique twist. The arch-rivals, who last faced off twice during a regular season in 1970, play the first of the two contests at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle on Oct. 4. The game, which was originally to be played at Ellensburg, was moved as part of a marketing plan to generate interest among the numerous alumni of the two institutions in the Seattle-Tacoma area. After several months of negotiations, the two universities, along with First and Goal, Inc., came to agreement on a deal that was announced on July 17. For information on purchasing tickets, visit the WWU athletics web site at http://www.wwuvikings.com.
WEBSITE: For the latest results, statistics and updates, including reports on all Western athletic events, visit the Vikings website at wwuvikings.com.
LAST WEEK AGAINST NEBRASKA-OMAHA: Quarterback Brian Masek completed 21-of-30 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns and added two rushing touchdowns as AFCA/NCAA II No.19-ranked Nebraska-Omaha defeated Western, 52-28, at Omaha, Neb.
The score was tied, 28-28, at halftime, but Masek hit Chris Denney for scoring passes of 45 and 56 yards on the first two possessions of the third quarter to give the Mavericks a 42-28 lead. The Vikings then fumbled the ball away on their next three possessions, two of the fumbles coming after Western had reached the UNO 22.
Andy Severson hit a 35-yard field goal to extend the UNO lead to 45-28, then after Western's third fumble, Masek, who rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries, got outside and went 55 yards early in the fourth quarter for the final points of the game.
The two teams combined for 1,097 yards, with UNO holding a 606-491 edge in total offense. The big difference was in rushing, with the Mavericks getting 285 yards on the ground, led by Justin Kammrad's 181 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
Western quarterback Josh Shimek completed 20-of-37 passes for 267 yards and one touchdown. Shimek alternated with starter Steve Nichols, who completed 6-of-12 passes for 145 yards and two scores, in the first half, but Nichols did not return after limping off the field with a knee injury late in the second quarter.
Western scored on the opening possession of the game. Jake Carlyle returned the opening kickoff 50 yards, setting up a nine-play, 47-yard drive capped when running back Duncan Sherrard took a screen pass from Nichols and scored from 10 yards out. But UNO responded immediately as Kammrad ran 66 yards for a touchdown on the Mavericks' first play from scrimmage to tie the game, 7-7.
UNO took a 14-7 lead on its next series as Masek scored from 1 yard out to cap a nine-play, 50-yard drive. That was just a prelude to a flurry of scoring, as the two teams combined for 35 points in the second quarter to leave the game tied, 28-28 at halftime.
Western's Michael Koenen opened the second-quarter scoring with field goals of 49 and 43 yards. The Vikings later got touchdown catches of 58 and 39 yards from Andy Olson, both in the last 2:17 of the half. Olson also caught a 2-point conversion pass on the first touchdown. The Mavericks scored on a 15-yard run by Kammrad and an 11-yard pass from Masek to Ryan Krause, who had set up the score with a 41-yard catch on the previous play.
Krause had seven receptions for 100 yards, and Denney had five catches for 136 yards. For Western, Olson had seven receptions for 187 yards, matching the seventh-best single game receiving yardage total in school history, but had just one 19-yard reception in the second half. Olson was named GNAC co-Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.
LAST MEETING WITH SAINT MARY'S: Wide receiver Greg Dykstra caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Shimek with 1:11 left, giving Western a 31-28 victory over Saint Mary's on Sept. 28. 2002 at Moraga, Calif.
Dykstra tied a school record for the second straight game by catching three touchdown passes as the Vikings won despite letting a 21-7 halftime lead slip away. Ryan Sauter, the third quarterback used by Saint Mary's, threw two touchdowns and ran for a third, all in the second half, as the Gaels rallied to take a 28-24 lead on a 32-yard pass to slotback Andre Coleman with 5:37 to play.
But the Vikings, who had just one first down in their previous two possessions, went 74 yards in 10 plays, with a 14-yard run by Duncan Sherrard setting up Dykstra's game-winning catch.
The Gaels then reached midfield, but with 24 seconds left, Sauter's deep pass down the middle was intercepted at the Viking 20 by Western strong safety Rob White, and the Vikings ran out the clock.
Dykstra, who became the first Western player to have more than one three-touchdown reception game in the same season, had five catches for 69 yards. He caught touchdown passes of 23 and six yards in the opening half. The second gave Western a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter, a margin extended to 21-7 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Sherrard with 43 seconds left in the first half.
But Sauter, who replaced Stephen Ratliff five minutes into the third quarter after Ratliff had come in for injured starter Trevor Johnston, led the Gaels to touchdowns on his first two drives, hitting Nick Brown for a 24-yard score, then sneaking in from a yard out to narrow the margin to 24-21 early in the fourth quarter.
Saint Mary's nearly took the lead with nine minutes left, as fullback Clint Wilson broke free and seemed headed for a 76-yard touchdown, but was caught from behind by Western cornerback Anthony Dalton, who stripped the ball loose, with White recovering the fumble at the Western 17.
The Gaels had a 463-364 edge in total offense, with 373 of the yards coming on the ground. Sauter completed 5-of-7 passes for 70 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Wilson rushed for 116 yards on 14 carries and Coleman added 69 yards on 14 attempts, including a 3-yard scoring run in the first quarter.
For Western, Shimek completed 15-of-20 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns, with tight end Adam Snel having five catches for 65 yards. Sherrard, who had just 10 carries in the first two games but played extensively because of injuries to running backs Jake Carlyle and Nyle Chambers ran for 99 yards on 20 attempts.
Western's Michael Koenen averaged 48.2 yards on five punts, including a school-record 73-yarder on his first attempt, but had his school-record streak of eight consecutive made field goals end when a 37-yard attempt was partially blocked in the third quarter. He later made a 29-yard field goal.
Koenen was named d2football.com National Special Teams Player of the Week and Shimek received GNAC Offensive Player of the Week for their performances.
HEAD COACH Rob Smith ON ...:
... NEBRASKA-OMAHA LOSS "It was a good first half of football, and a poor second half of football. Nebraska-Omaha is a talented football team. We were able to stay with them for 30 minutes, then in the second half we gave up some big plays and turned the ball over and that took us out of the game. There were some positives, some things to build off of, but at the same time we're still disappointed in not playing a full 60 minutes."
... TAKEAWAY-TURNOVER RATIO "That's a big part of our frustration right now. That's something that over the years we've taken great pride in, and historically we've been very solid in that category. But after three games to be minus-eight, and we're not taking the ball away on defense and we've have had some very uncharacteristic turnovers on offense. It's got to get cleaned up."
... RETURNING HOME "We're anxious to play at home and certainly anxious to have the students back. We need a win in a desperate way, and Saint Mary's is in much the same position we're in. We're just anxious to get back on the field. When you're going through what we're going through, the remedy is to get back on the field as soon as possible."
... SAINT MARY'S "They're quite a different football team from what we've seen the last few years. With the new coaching staff, they no longer run the option that we've had to prepare for. Now, they're very much a spread offense football team with a lot of shotgun from the quarterback."
"You're going to have two football teams very disappointed with their start and very hungry to get their first win."
PROBABLE TWO DEEPS
OFFENSE TE 82 Rick Carte (6-4, 240, **Jr., Juneau, AK/Juneau-Douglas) 13 Nick Yoney (6-4, 225, So., Arlington, WA/Arlington) ST 70 Brandon Torrey (6-3, 270, R-Fr., Graham, WA/Bethel) 79 Justin Simpson (6-5, 310, So., Kennewick, WA/Kamiakin) SG 62 Jon Pagan (6-5, 260, *Sr., Los Angeles, CA/El Segundo) 56 Jeff DeBuigne (6-5, 300, *So., Kennewick, WA/Kamiakin) C 53 Loren Winter (6-2, 250, *So., Bothell, WA/Juanita) 57 Lincoln Stalnaker (6-2, 225, *Sr., Flagstaff, AZ/Coconino) QG 73 Todd Gowing (6-3, 265, **Jr., Kirkland, WA/Inglemoor) 67 Peter Van Datta (6-2, 265, R-Fr., Bremerton, WA/Central Kitsap) QT 72 Geoff Hise (6-2, 255, *Jr., Snoqualmie, WA (Mount Si) 65 Jason Day (6-5, 250, **Jr., Tonasket, WA) SB 2 Jason Barton (5-9, 175, *So., Gig Harbor, WA/Gig Harbor) 8 Nate Kuhns (5-11, 190, ***Sr., Yakima, WA/Eisenhower) WR 22 Ryan Van Diest (6-1, 190, ***Sr., Lynden, WA/Lynden) 5 James Laurence (6-4, 225, T-Jr., Kent, WA/Kent-Meridian) WR 1 Andy Olson (6-3, 210, *So., Chehalis, WA/W.F.West) 9 Matt Wilson (5-11, 180, R-Fr., Auburn, WA/Auburn) RB 29 Duncan Sherrard (6-0, 195, *So., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt) 27 Jake Carlyle (5-7, 190, So., Olympia, WA/Capital) FB 98 Joe Casillas (6-3, 220, So., Phoenix, AZ/Arcadia) 26 Nyle Chambers (6-1, 220, ***Sr., Sumner, WA/Sumner) QB 11 Josh Shimek (6-4, 205, **Sr., Pasco, WA/Pasco) 14 Steve Nichols (6-1, 205, **Jr., Stevenson, WA/Stevenson)
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