Soggy, Solemn End to Season
North Central powers past CLU in Round One
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – There was nothing friendly about the confines of William Rolland Stadium on a rainy Saturday morning as the No. 8 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen saw their 2012 NCAA Division III Playoff run come to an abrupt halt at the hands of the No. 14 North Central Cardinals. After a 41-21 game NCC advance to the second round while CLU bid farewell to their fall campaign.
While the sun did break through mid-way through the fourth quarter, it was a cloudy, rainy morning as the teams took the field and was anything but ideal conditions.
Penalties and turnovers were the thorn in the side of the Kingsmen, but plagued both squads. The teams combined for eight fumbles, two interceptions and a dozen penalties. All three of the NCC fumbles that CLU forced were recovered by the Violet and Gold, though. Cal Lutheran coughed up the ball five times, losing possession on three occasions.
The Kingsmen were unable to stop the run, allowing 302 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns of 79 and 11 yards in the opening quarter. Cal Lutheran, however, did have a slight edge in their air attack, gaining 257 yards to North Central’s 225.
North Central stormed out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and the cut was too deep for the Kingsmen to recover. CLU got on the board in the second on a three-yard rush from Ryan Zirbel and held the Cardinals to a field goal, their second of the game, to win the period. The score was set up by way of an interception from Broc Galbreth. A 13-yard pass was the North Central way of scoring in the third before they added a 34-yard TD throw and catch in the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, Cal Lutheran made a change under center with senior Kevin Ramay returning to take the snaps. He found wide receiver Eric Rogers, who was double and triple teamed much of the game, for a pair of TD receptions, of 22 and three yards, respectively, on the final two possessions of the game for CLU. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. Rogers’ first score was set up on a Rian Younker fumble recovery that he returned for 39 yards.
Chris Cabrera and Anthony Monroe each recovered a fumble as well. Bryan Chirinos recorded the only CLU sack of the game, pushing NCC back five yards. Dontaie Ferguson led all players with 11 stops, including six of the solo variety.
Ramay finished his career with an 8-for-13 day for 89 yards. Rogers concluded his phenomenal collegiate career with a nine-catch day for 111 yards and two TDs. Freshman tailback Romello Goodman was limited to just 70 yards on 16 touches, though he almost cut the NCC deficit in half early in the game after breaking three tackles and nearly managing his way through a fourth obstacle that would have left him alone in the open field for a touchdown run. He also had a chance in the second, coming up just short, landing at the one-yard line before a turnover again haunted the home team.
Cal Lutheran finishes the season 8-2 overall after running the table at 7-0 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) to earn a fourth consecutive league title.
The Kingsmen graduate a class of 21.