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In a gusting wind, Central Washington slipped by Utah 18-7 in a rare low-scoring game for two high-powered offenses. The Wildcats used stout defense and a couple of timely scores to edge the Utes.
The first 30 minutes of the contest were back and forth with both teams trying to establish possession. A strong wind, however, bogged down both offenses and left chances gone begging.
The Wildcats overcame an early yellow card and were the first on the board in the 35th minute with a try. CWU was finally able to exploit an overload on the outside and the blindside flanker, Maverick Schirmer, dotted down in the corner to give the home side the 5-0 lead. The game would stay this way going into the break.
CWU doubled its advantage after a long run from Aladdin Schirmer. Maverick’s older brother has been a force all season for the Wildcats from his No. 8 position and continues to create opportunities in the postseason for Central. Freshman Dominic Lindstrom barreled over from five meters following the long run and several phases.
“I have got to give it to Aladdin,” said CWU coach Tony Pacheco. “He had a really terrific game. You know senior day, last chance to play on the home ground, he took it upon himself to carry the boys.”
Utah responded with a try of its own, however, off a penalty. Tonata Lauti took the penalty quickly and darted over under the posts to cut the lead to 10-7. The Utes continued to apply pressure after the score, but CWU stemmed the momentum with a tough penalty 40 meters out. Josh Bower nailed the kick through a stiff wind to extend the lead to 13-7.
It remained a one score game until the 77th minute when Aladdin Schirmer sealed the victory with an unconverted try. CWU ran out the final three minutes to limit Utah to seven points and earn a berth in the next round.
“Our defensive shape was great today,” Pacheco said of his team. “We were really committed to it. We fell off some tackles at times but when you play a team like Utah you will have to defend for a lot of phases.I thought we did a pretty good job of handling that.”
Ultimately, Central Washington made a few more plays in the opposition territory to come away with victory. Pacheco believes that it was that execution that paved the way to victory.
“We are definitely happy to get the win and it was a hard fought contest. Both teams will probably look back on it and say we had the opportunity to score and didn’t take advantage of them. Fortunately we took advantage of three trying scoring opportunities.”
CWU will travel to BYU for a semi-final matchup next weekend.