When the last of this week’s college football polls trickle in, there’s likely to be just one remaining top 10 team from the state of Washington.
Saturday afternoon, the Northwest’s last unbeaten team extended its winning streak to 10 games thanks in no small part to the play of some South Sound products.
Central Washington (8-0), ranked No. 9 in last week’s NCAA Division II Coaches Poll, took the lead with 10 minutes, 42 seconds to play against North Alabama on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kentlake High grad Austin Pernell. The Wildcats’ vaunted defense took it from there stopping the Lions’ final two drives. The Lions’ last pass to a tightly-covered receiver fell incomplete in the end zone with 1:08 to play as a crowd of 3,719 at Central’s Tomlinson Stadium cheered in approval.
CWU’s defense, which is allowing 15.8 points per game, got a big boost from Wilson High graduate Billy Greer. Greer had two of Central’s five sacks and finished the game with three tackles for loss.
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Kentwood graduate Jackson Huerta had six tackles and forced a fumble. Kevin Haynes of Battle Ground led the Wildcats with nine tackles, including 3 1/2 tackles for loss. He also recovered a fumble.
Tyler Hasty, son of NFL pro bowl defensive back James Hasty, broke up two passes in the fourth quarter but saw his streak of five games in a row with at least one interception come to an end.
Pernell led the offense, carrying the ball on 35 of the Wildcats’ 69 plays. He had 189 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wildcats, who have 46 players who attended South Sound high schools, have won 10 games in a row dating back to last season. They return to Great Northwest Athletic Conference play on Oct. 28 with a game in Ellensburg against Azusa Pacific. CWU beat Azusa Pacific 17-16 on a last-second field goal on Sept. 16 in California.
The updated NCAA Division II rankings are expected to be released Monday. The Football Championship Subdivision rankings are also due out Monday and are likely to see Eastern Washington slide from the top 10. The eighth-ranked Eagles suffered an upset loss, 46-28, at Southern Utah on Saturday.