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Central Washington won a pair of victories in the Midwest this past week. The Wildcats defeated Lindenwood-Belleville 45-12 on Thursday evening and outlasted Lindenwood 21-3 on Saturday.
CWU has been relegated to spending most of its preseason indoors thanks to the Pacific Northwest weather. As a result, the Wildcats struggled to get going early against Lindenwood-Belleville but ultimately found their groove.
“It was a nice opportunity to get outside. I knew coming in we were not necessarily going to be polished. I just wanted us to improve upon our opening game. Our performance kind of weighed a little bit because the whole team had their minds on the Lindenwood game,” said the new Central Washington coach Todd Thornley.
It took a few minutes for CWU to realize it had a game on its hands. Slowly the Wildcat took control to take a 24-0 lead.
“After the first 20 minutes, we started getting around to and realizing we have got to play here,” added Thornley.
Lindenwood-Belleville battled back with a pair of tries to cut the lead in half but Central Washington added three second half scores to win 45-12.
“Full credit to Lindenwood-Belleville. They are a scrappy, physical side and they had a couple of really skillful players that made an impact on us,” said Thornley.
On Saturday, the Wildcats traveled to St. Charles, Mo. to take on Lindenwood. The game turned out to be a low scoring, physical encounter, with the Wildcats coming out on top.
Central Washington opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a try from Tresten Keys. It turned out to be the only the score of the first half.
Lindenwood was deep in CWU territory to start the second half, banging away at the line. The Wildcat line refused to break, however, and the Lions eventually settled for three points from a penalty.
“I thought our defense was outstanding. For us we took that penalty as a psychological victory to hold them to three points. We were very happy with our defensive effort especially not having been outside training wise,” Thornley said of the defensive effort.
Larry Peneueta extended the lead to 14-3 with a try and Darren cooper iced the game with a try in the final five minutes.
Lindenwood struggled to get anything going in this game but will take this loss as a learning experience.
“All credit to Central Washington for their play. They were a very physically imposing team. We struggled to string together phases and couldn't keep out of the bin. These are games we will win as we approach the level of play we are capable of,” said Lindenwood wing Sam Chapman.