It’s hard to imagine a worse start for the Western Washington football team at the fourth annual Battle in Seattle.
Freshman running back Craig Garner fumbled the opening kickoff, recovered it, then the Vikings were flagged for an illegal block in the back penalty. Two plays later quarterback James Monrean fumbled the ball in the end zone. It was recovered by Central’s Chris James for a touchdown.
Déjà vu for Central’s James
James’ fumble recovery for a touchdown was the second of his career and his second consecutive touchdown in a Battle in Seattle game. James also recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone during last year’s game. Both scores were the first of the game for the Wildcats.
Attendance numbers on the rise
After dropping the last two season, attendance numbers were up for the Battle in the Seattle. A crowd of 11,153 came to the fourth annual contest this season.
More than 11,000 showed up for the game in 2005 and 2005. A record crowd of 16,392 came for the inaugural contest in 2003.
Both schools were expecting a large crowd this season because it is the only game between the two teams this year. In previous years the schools played twice during the regular season as part of the round-robin format of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule. As football-only members of the North Central Conference, they now meet once.
Vikings hurting at LB
Junior outside linebacker Tieba Bropleh started against Central after spending most of the season as a special teams player. Bropleh filled in for Nick Warren, who injured his knee last week against South Dakota and is likely out for the season.
The Vikings also played without leading tackler Shane Simmons for the third straight game. Simmons, recovering from a nerve injury in his neck and shoulder, led the nation in solo tackles before getting hurt against the University of Minnesota Duluth. Making his third straight start at middle linebacker was James Day. The junior had 21 tackles entering the game, including 17 solos.
The camera likes Calvin Williams
During warm ups before the game, freshman running back Calvin Williams found himself on the giant television screens at Qwest Field for several seconds.
Williams smiled at the sight, then seemed a little embarrassed as the camera lingered. Before long his teammates were starting to stand in front him, trying to steal some of the spotlight.
Central receiver one of the best
Central wide receiver Johnny Spevak is having the kind of season most players only wish for.
Entering Saturday’s game against Western, the redshirt freshman was leading the NCC with 44 receptions and ranked fourth in NCAA Division II with 7.3 catches a contest.