Clan defeat Red Storm to earn first ever road win in GNAC.
The Simon Fraser University football team was on the road last week in Saint George, Utah to battle the Dixie State College Red Storm. It was an old-fashioned shootout, with the Clan earning their first conference road win since joining the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Dixie State opened the scoring on the first drive of the game. They started at their own 27 and took advantage of the Clan’s run defense, by running six times in eight plays, finishing with touchdown. The Clan responded on the next drive. Quarterback Trey Wheeler spread out the passing, and used running back Bo Palmer to take the Clan 69 yards. Palmer ran in the tying touchdown from two yards out. The first quarter ended 7–7 but the Red Storm were pressing, and sat at the SFU 21-yard line to start the second quarter.
It took two plays into the quarter for the Red Storm to cap off their 13-play, 78-yard drive with a touchdown, but the Clan blocked the extra point, then responded once again. It was receiver Lamar Durant’s time to play. He caught a 40-yard toss from Wheeler for a first down, and then finished off the drive with a touchdown. The Clan hit their conversion and took the lead, 14–13. After some stingy defensive play by the Clan, who forced the Red Storm into a three-and-out, Wheeler hooked up with Jamal Kett to put the Clan up 21–13. The Red Storm marched down the field on the ensuing drive, scoring less than three minutes later to keep the game close at 21–19.
Did I mention it was Durant’s turn to play? In superman-like fashion, Durant caught a 73-yard pass from Wheeler on third down for a touchdown. On the next Clan possession, he finished off a seven-play drive with a 22-yard catch for his third touchdown of the day. The Red Storm added a touchdown and two-point conversion before the end of the half, which finished 35–27.
Believe it or not, there were exactly zero points scored by either team in the third quarter. Both defenses played well, causing turnovers and sacking the quarterbacks on several occasions. In the final minute of the quarter, the Red Storm were in Clan territory looking to tie the game. The Clan defense forced Red Storm running back AJ Johnson to fumble the ball at the SFU 31-yard line. They were unable to recover the ball, and the Red Storm retained possession at the 28. They made it down to the four-yard line before the end of the quarter.
The Red Storm scored eight seconds into the fourth quarter, to tie the game at 35, and setting up an exciting finish. Neither team could take advantage of their next possessions. The Clan started with good field position as a result, starting at the Dixie State 49-yard line. Wheeler completed passes to Palmer, then Kyle Kawamoto, finishing the drive with a 37-yard pass to Kett for his second touchdown of the game and gave the clan the six-point lead; the extra-point was no good. The Clan forced another fumble on the first play of the next drive, and this time they took advantage. After taking over on the Dixie State 46, Wheeler hooked up with Durant for his fourth touchdown. Then, Durant caught the ball to give the Clan a two-point conversion and a 49–35 lead.
After a 62-yard boot by Docherty down to the Dixie State 3-yard line, Red Storm returner Cache Morgan ran past everyone, 97 yards for the touchdown, but the kick was blocked. Palmer added his second touchdown of the day, after a 12-play, 78-yard drive putting the game out of reach 56–41. Dixie State added another touchdown, but the Clan ended up getting a defensive conversion after the extra point kick was blocked. The game finished 58–47.
Wheeler was 36 for 54 attempts, for 482 yards, and reached a single-game GNAC record with six touchdown passes. Durant had 228 yards on 12 catches and four touchdowns. His performance earned him Red Lion Offensive Player of the Week honours. Palmer had two touchdowns, and 99 yards on 26 carries.
Head coach Dave Johnson was pleased with the win, “I’m proud of our kids, they played a full four quarters in a tough environment.” The Clan is now 4–5 on the year, and played their final home game of the season on Saturday. This game will be covered in the next edition of the Peak.