Lumberjacks chop down Clan efforts

The loss was the largest defeat in the program’s NCAA era.

After flying down to California earlier in the week, the SFU football program hoped to get their first win of the year against the Lumberjacks of Humboldt State University (HSU), who are currently sitting in first place atop the GNAC with an undefeated record.

The sound of 5,000-plus screaming fans in costumes with the buzzing of the mascot’s chainsaw on the sidelines sure made for a ghostly atmosphere in Arcata, California on October 31 as the Clan prepared to take on this year’s GNAC contenders.

SFU opened the game on offense and rallied down the field with the help of a 26-yard completion from quarterback Ryan Stanford to receiver Christian Berger. They settled for a field goal a few plays later, but it sailed to left of the uprights, leaving the score 0–0. Humboldt state responded the following drive with a field goal attempt, but this too missed wide.

A stout Lumberjack defense began to hone in on the Clan offense, as SFU was only able to amass three first downs in the first quarter. These short offensive drives for the Clan gave HSU great field position, which they quickly took advantage of by putting together back to back drives that ended with rushing touchdowns from running backs Ja’Quan Gardner and Jabar Byrd.

Coach Bates described the outcome of limited offensive production by stating, “[when we’re] not able to stay on the field on offense, really our defense gets to a point where they’re just tired and they get worked over. Part of that is a product of the size of our roster size at this point in time.”

Jordan and Justin Herdman led the SFU defense to a couple of promising stops to open up the second quarter, including a big play on third down where SFU defensive back Cairo Messer-Barrow broke up a possible first down catch for HSU.

“They are dedicated to their craft, they work hard and their students of the game,” coach Bates said of the Herdmans. “They are human and they make mistakes, but they are leaders on this defense and I don’t know where we would be without them.”

However, things began to turn sour for the Clan as the Lumberjack defense forced an interception and back-to-back three and out drives for the SFU offense. The Lumberjack offense would simultaneously rally together to put an additional 21 points on the scoreboard before heading into the locker room for halftime.

“We can’t afford to make mistakes when we play [HSU], but each play we had one or two guys make mental errors, and that caused issues that [they] weren’t able to overcome as a team,” said coach Bates.

Lumberjack quarterback Robert Weber opened up the second half of the game by leading his team down the field to add to an already staggering lead by throwing his second touchdown pass of the day to make the score 42–0.

An early deficit in the second half forced the Clan to abandon the run game that had been so efficient in recent weeks thanks to the recent emergence of converted running back Ante Milanovic-Litre. Ante finished the game with only 14 rushing attempts for a total of 28 yards.

The rest of the second half continued to play out in favour of HSU, as they tacked on an additional pair of touchdowns before closing out the game. Stanford finished the game completing 17 of 36 passes for 140 yards and two interceptions. Justin Burren again came out as the Clan’s leading receiver, with four catches for 52 yards, while Jordan and Justin Herdman led SFU in tackles with 26 and 12 total tackles respectively.