On Saturday, October 24, the SFU Clan football team played their penultimate home game of the season against the Western Oregon Wolves. The Clan for the most part were fully present for the game. However, it was the big plays from the Wolves that really hurt SFU, and ultimately cost them the win.
“In the end, we didn’t make enough plays, and they made too many plays,” said Head Coach Kelly Bates after the game. “We can’t overcome ourselves. Too many dumb penalties, [and] too many times where we shot ourselves in the foot. We’re not a team that can overcome that right now, and the result speaks for itself.
“I thought we fought hard, our heart and our effort is never questioned, but we’re not a smart football team right now. We need to become that.”
The Clan got off to a fantastic start, when Earl Anderson scored on a 67 yard touchdown pass from Ryan Stanford for a 7–0 lead less than two minutes in. But Western Oregon answered right back when Paul Revis got his first of two touchdowns on the night to tie the game up at seven. The Wolves then scored on one of their multiple big plays on the day, a 75 yard run by running back/wide receiver Malik Braxton to take the lead 14–7. SFU was able to cut the lead down to four after a 48-yard kick by Tiernan Docherty.
After a fumble recovery by Tyrel Ratich, SFU struck back with another huge passing play. Justin Buren scored a 75-yard touchdown and sent SFU back into the lead. From then on, both teams had one field goal, and redshirt freshman Ben Minaker got an interception as the Clan headed into the break with a 17–14 lead.
It was the big plays in the second half that cost SFU this game. After a cagey start where both defences looked very dominant, the first big play happened. The Clan failed to convert on fourth down on a play where Earl Anderson had the ball slip through his fingers, and Western Oregon pounched. A 56-yard pass from second half starting Quarterback Trey Shimabukuro to Paul Revis gave the visitors a 24–20 lead.
They weren’t done there. Bates and the coaching staff decided to go for it again on fourth down, and again they didn’t get it. On literally the next play, Shimabukuro found Kamakana Apelu for a 50-yard touchdown pass. SFU was able to get within one score, as Andrew Pauls scored on a two yard pass to make it 31–26 after the two-point conversion failed.
At this point, you would think SFU would be in it right down to the wire like their last home game. But that wasn’t the case this time around. After punter Nikolai Karpun pinned the Wolves down on their one yard line, Malix Braxton took it 99 yards for the score, stunning the crowd at Swangard. It was a kick in the gut for a team that had battled all night to get their first win of the season. The game ended in a 37–26 loss for the Clan.
Coach Bates bemoaned the penalties taken by the Clan, as too many times drives were stalled because of them. “This week was our worst week in three weeks,” he said. “We were on a trend that was showing us to get less penalties, and this week we went back. It’s an ongoing process that will take time to overcome, and as a coaching staff, we’ve put things in place to overcome that.”
The Clan’s final home game is against Central Washington University on November 7. There is a free shuttle that will pick up and drop off students to the game. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot.