Thanks to a battering, bruising defense, Central Washington is still the only unbeaten team in Division II.
The top-ranked Wildcats stymied No. 12 Tarleton State in cruising to a 27-6 victory Saturday at Ellensburg in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Tarleton State (10-3) jumped out to a 3-0 lead before CWU and the No. 1 scoring defense in the country clamped down, forcing two fumbles and holding the high-powered Texans’ offense to only 58 yards in the first half.
The Texans, who entered the game averaging more than 400 yards per game, were unable to establish anything on the ground, being held to (minus)-14 yards rushing. It was the fourth time this season CWU (12-0) has held an opponent to negative rushing yards.
Tarleton State took an early 3-0 lead after Bradley Bullitt intercepted a Cole Morgan pass and returned 58 yards to the CWU 26. But the CWU defense clamped down, holding the Texans to just a field goal from then on.
Morgan answered on the ensuing drive, finding Johnny Spevak for a 48-yard TD strike that gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
“This defense never surprises me,” Central Washington head coach Blaine Bennett said. “…They’ve done an amazing job all year. Even when we gave up that interception, to hold the opponent to only a field goal in a critical time in the first quarter was a huge stop.”
The Texans were coming off a 57-56 double-overtime victory against Texas A&M-Kingsville in which the Texans put up 530 yards of offense. The Wildcats held them to 178 yards.
“Honestly, everything worked,” Morgan said. “I screwed us up with a pick and I checked out of a play I shouldn’t have. Other than that, we moved the ball really well.”
The Wildcats, the top seed in Super Region Four, will host second-seeded Northwest Missouri State (11-1) in the national quarterfinals Saturday.
NAIA: Carroll rolls
John Camino rushed for 90 yards and four touchdowns as Carroll College crushed Dickinson State 59-7 at Helena in the first round of the NAIA playoffs.
Carroll College, ranked No. 2 in NAIA, finished with 488 total yards, 302 of them on the ground, and remained undefeated at 12-0.
James Macey led Dickinson, ranked 17th, with 26 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Cody Holland, sacked three times, was among five others who finished with negative yards rushing. Dickinson finished its season 7-4.
The Saints move to the quarterfinals.
DIII: Linfield moves on
Cal Lutheran could find nowhere to hide from a swarming Linfield defense as the fifth-ranked Wildcats (10-0) battered the No. 22 Kingsmen (8-2) at McMinnville, Ore., advancing with a 38-17 victory in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
CLU quarterback Jericho Toilolo was sacked eight times and threw four interceptions as the Northwest Conference champion Wildcats held the champs of the Southern California Collegiate Athletic Conference to 220 yards of offense, including just 79 in the first half.