Silver linings in late game performance, but it was too little, too late for the Clan

Miles Richardson (#8) went 17 for 29 with 104 yards passing.

After going without in the two previous games, SFU football put up an offensive touchdown. It was the most points they put up in four games. In the second half, they were beaten by a score of only 107, and didn’t allow a single point in the fourth quarter.

There were more than a few positives for the Clan Saturday night, but they came too late in the game. SFU lost 479 to Humboldt State Lumberjacks; the 21st straight loss dating back to 2014, and the eighth loss of the season.

Once again, the offence had difficulties moving the ball and putting up points. Even the defence — which for the previous two games was the team’s bright spot — gave up 546 yards. It was the worst game statistically since they gave up 631 yards in a 570 loss to Humboldt State last Halloween.

“Our offence was unable to get on the board early. We had some promising drives snuffed out by errors that have been consistent with what we’ve done all year,” said head coach Kelly Bates. “We are a young team and those early mistakes really make it hard to build any momentum.”

On the first play of the game, quarterback Miles Richardson threw an interception, giving Humboldt State the ball on their own 38-yard line, which led to a touchdown. For the sixth time this season, SFU surrendered a touchdown on the opposing team’s first drive.

Humboldt State’s second touchdown came two drives later as a result of a blocked punt at SFU’s 37-yard line. The Lumberjacks recovered at the 25-yard line, and all they needed was one 25-yard pass to make it 140 (with an extra point kick).

“There’s a building process in place that will take a considerable amount of time if this program is to turn around.”

SFU’s only score in the first half came off of Humboldt’s fifth touchdown in the second quarter. The Clan defence had blocked the Lumberjacks’ extra point kick and defensive back Jaryn Bailey, playing special teams, caught the ball and ran it 98 yards into the Humboldt end zone.

As it was on Humboldt’s extra point kick, it counted as a defensive PAT (point after touchdown), not a touchdown, and was worth only two points.

The Clan went into halftime down 372.

SFU allowed two scores in the first 9:34 of the third quarter — a touchdown and a field goal for 10 points. However, for the remaining 20:26 of the game, SFU didn’t allow a single point and gave up only 75 yards.

Just over five minutes into the fourth quarter, running back Jalen Jana ran 38 yards to put it in the end zone and give SFU a much-awaited offensive touchdown. Offensive touchdowns have been hard to come by for the team, with only seven on the season — three of them credited to Jana.

An interception by Bailey and the Clan stopping a Humboldt fourth down rush attempt on SFU’s 21-yard line — with SFU having pushed back the Lumberjacks from the red zone — kept the rest of quarter scoreless.

At the end of the game, SFU had done some good. However, much of it came in the second half. By then, it was unlikely Humboldt was putting in its best effort, and was probably mostly playing its second- and third-string players — SFU not allowing any points at the end of the third quarter and fourth quarter coincided with when Humboldt put in its backup quarterback.

“When we have success near the end of the game, I understand we’re playing against second string guys — I get that — but we are still building and we have to start somewhere. Those are positives we can build off of,” said Bates.

“There’s a building process in place that will take a considerable amount of time if this program is to turn around, and I think that we are in a predicament right now, because of what’s gone on here the last few years.”

SFU now has two games left in the season. While a win may be difficult to find — considering what the previous eight games have shown — they will somehow have to bring the way they played in the fourth quarter to kickoff.

SATURDAY: The Clan hit the road one last time to face the Central Washington Wildcats in Ellensburg, WA.

SFU fans will remember Central Washington as the team that gave SFU a 55–6 loss at the homecoming game October 1. The Wildcats currently sit second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), with a 4–2 record in the conference and 5–3 overall.

The Wildcats are coming off of a 44–7 loss on the road to the GNAC leaders, Azusa Pacific. Central Washington is second in the GNAC in both total offence and total defence statistics.

In their previous matchup, SFU was held to 42 rushing yards, and only scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

“I’m always expecting full effort, I think that we’ve always got that, I think that we play extremely hard. The things we need to work at are things to do with playing consistent football, which is knowing your assignments and carrying the load properly on the field. We’re looking for our young kids to grow and get better at that, and that comes with experience,” said Bates.

“It’s been a learning process all year. We’ve done some things to try and make it easier on our young kids that don’t have to know as much and simplifying the game plan, and trying to let our kids to play physical is something we’ve tried to do on both sides of the ball.”

Kickoff is at 1 p.m.