Yakima Herald-Republic: Reilly breaks NCAA record in win over Western
Oct. 12, 2008
SEATTLE, Wash. -
by Roger Underwood, Yakima Herald Republic
Given all he's done at Qwest Field, including passing numbers that would do NFL Hall of Famers proud, it's hard to believe that Mike Reilly's first pass in the Seahawks' venue was caught by the other team.
In the Central Washington standout's first Battle in Seattle back in 2005, then-freshman Reilly's first throw was intercepted.
"I remember that," he said Saturday night. "It was a throw that I thought was good that turned out to be not so good."
Unlike the overwhelming majority of his throws this time.
With Reilly setting four school and/or NCAA records, the 11th-ranked Wildcats blew out Western Washington 50-28 to both enhance their momentum in this spirited regional rivalry and embellish their Division II playoff hopes.
That's six straight CWU victories over the Vikings, including four straight in what has become known simply as The Battle.
Reilly, while improving to 5-0 against Western, finished 36-for-47 for 371 yards and four touchdowns, and established the following standards:
His first touchdown toss broke Jon Kitna's Central career record, and his total presently stands at 103.
His 58 rushing yards made him CWU's career leader in that department for quarterbacks at 1,111.
His 184 passing attempts without an interception set both school and conference records.
His having thrown at least one touchdown in 41 consecutive games -- or in each of Reilly's Central starts -- set an NCAA record for all divisions.
"Like I've said before," Reilly shouted above the postgame din at midfield, "it's more a team thing than anything. Yeah, it feels good and yeah, it's exciting.
Central Washington University's Jerome Morris runs the ball in the first half against Western Washington University during the Battle in Seattle at Qwest Field Saturday, October 11, 2008. (Kris Holland/Yakima Herald-Republic) "But none of it would have happened without my teammates, and none of it would have mattered if we hadn't won."
There was blood on Reilly's upper lip and a nasty gash on his chin, courtesy of a series of Western blitz schemes designed to disrupt if not dismantle Reilly and the Central air game.
Many of them left Johnny Spevak facing one-on-one coverage, however, and the junior wideout caught a career-best 13 passes for 148 yards and a pair of 7-yard touchdowns.
His second score was CWU's last, and after holding for Garrett Rolsma's extra point, Spevak bounded off the field waving both index fingers in the air.
"It's just such a big deal, to beat Western," he said. "You have family here, you have people coming all the way from Arizona to watch the game, and even all the little kids who come to watch us have smiles on their faces. You can't put anything above it."
Plus there's the playoff predicament.
Given that the GNAC has earned as much nationwide respect as the NFC West, the Wildcats were seventh in last week's regional poll. They'll have to make the top six in the final rankings to qualify for the postseason.
"The biggest thing is the win," coach Blaine Bennett said, "but I'll also say this. Having known a lot about the rivalry and about the teams playing here, this was everything I'd hoped it would be and then some."
Posting 531 yards of offense will do that for a coach, and for a time it seemed the Wildcats might need all of them.
Central took a 16-0 lead on a safety (Western snapped the ball over its punter's head on the game's first series), Reilly's 10-yard scoring strike to Sam Togar and, after Central recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Reilly's 30-yard touchdown toss to Jamal Weems.
But the Viks (3-2 GNAC, 3-3 overall) rallied behind their own senior quarterback, Adam Perry, and were within 22-14 at halftime and 29-21 early in the third quarter.
The first Reilly-to-Spevak TD connection made it 36-21 with 6:41 left in the period, however, and the Vikings then misfired on successive crucial fourth down passes.
They had reached the Central 6 yard line on the first drive and the CWU 31 on the second.
Jerome Morris' second touchdown, covering three yards, and then Spevak's second scoring catch followed, sealing the deal with 5:05 to play. Morris, spelling starter J.R. Hasty who re-injured a bothersome ankle, totaled 74 yards on 15 carries.
"Mike Reilly's a great player, probably the best quarterback in Division II and better than a lot of quarterbacks in Division I," said Perry, who was 22-for-36 for 320 yards and two scores. "I have a lot of respect for the way he plays."
Reilly, by the way, threw an interception Saturday night -- a late-game toss that eluded Mike Waller's hands and found those of Western's C.J. Green.
"A throw I wish I had back, sort of like the first one I ever threw here," Reilly said.
Then, rubbing his chin, he added, "I'm lucky I'm engaged. Not too many people would probably want to be around me with all this hamburger on the bottom of my face."
Hamburger, maybe. But certainly not egg.
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