WOU downs Dixie State as Bergman ties school record for touchdown passes

MONMOUTH - Quarterback Ryan Bergman helped Western Oregon start its home schedule Saturday with a bang as he tied a school record for touchdown passes in a game in the 52-38 victory over Dixie State.The defense set the tone from the opening snap catching Dixie State quarterback Griff Robles in the backfield twice forcing a three and out. Photo by Landon Kafka John Benthin clobbers the Dixie States' quarterback early in the game on Saturday The offense would turn that great field position into points one minute and 28 seconds later when Wolves junior quarterback Ryan Bergman found senior wide receiver Antoinne Wafer for a 34-yard touchdown pass, Bergman and Wafer were just getting started. Photo courtesy of WOU Athletics Antoinne Wafer Bergman then rolled out and found junior running back Nathan Penaranda for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 4:30 left in the first quarter to give the Wolves a quick 14-0 lead. Dixie State answered back, scoring the next 12 points, making it a close 14-12 game at halftime. In the second half the Wolves offense exploded behind Bergman and Wafer. Bergman completed 23 passes on 32 attempts for 417 yards and tied a school record, last accomplished in 1957, with six touchdown passes on the afternoon."We knew they would run a lot of cover one and cover two defenses today, so we had a lot of good matchups," Bergman said. "Guys were getting open all day." Wafer had a career day, as a receiver, hauling in six passes for 77 yards and three touchdowns."They were shading toward Tyrell's (Williams) side all day, which gave me a lot of open field to make plays," Wafer said. "There was a lot of man coverage on me and Ryan was able to exploit that."The game started to get out of hand with five minutes left in the third quarter when Bergman finished off a drive finding Wafer in the end zone.A Dixie State fumble deep in its own territory on the first play after the ensuing kickoff allowed Bergman to capitalize once again, two plays later, throwing a 20-yard touchdown to Williams that put the Wolves up 42-18 going into the fourth quarter.Dixie State would put up a couple scores in the fourth quarter to make the game seem a little closer, but it was all WOU Saturday afternoon.Senior receiver Michael Reeve led the team in receiving yards with 121 on six catches, although he was one of the few Bergman targets that didn't find themselves on the end of a touchdown pass. Photo by Landon Kafka WOU wide receiver Michael Reeve hauls in one of his six catches for 122 yards The ground game for the Wolves was serviceable, with nine players getting at least one carry and the team finished with 120 rushing yards. Sophomore running back Leighton Panui had the only rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.On the defensive side, the front line did a good job of holding their blocks and putting pressure on the quarterback - allowing the linebackers and secondary to make plays.Sophomore linebacker Shane Kuenzi led the team with 11 total tackles, six solo."We did a good job of controlling their run game, forcing them to go to the air more," senior defensive lineman John Benthin said. "We have a lot of speed in the secondary and they were able to make plays, of course it always helps when your offense is rolling and we can stay fresh." The secondary, made up of sophomores Roger Garrett and Adam McAdams, along with senior Patrick Tepea, combined for 24 total tackles."We knew they were going to do a lot of switch routes - keep the receivers in motion and try to confuse our alignments in the secondary - but the younger guys did a good job of knowing what to do and we were able to take a lot of that away," Tepea said. Photo courtesy of WOU Athletics Patrick Tepea "I was happy with the way the defense played for the first three quarters, but we kind of let up there at the end," WOU coach Arne Ferguson added. "Defensively we did a good job of reading their plays and knowing what they were trying to do on offense."The 1-2 Wolves will head to Burnaby, British Columbia next Saturday to take on a tough 2-0 Simon Fraser team that is already turning heads early this season by defeating what are traditionally two of the top teams in the GNAC conference, Humbolt State week one and defending conference champion Central Washington on the road Saturday. Simon Fraser has one of the top passing offenses in the GNAC and its defense held the defending conference champion Wildcats to 14 points Saturday. "We will have to see where the weaknesses are in the Fraser defense, run good routes and create some separation so Brady can find us down the field," Wafer said."We will have to improve our pursuit on defense, and have even more effort against Simon Fraser," Ferguson added. "They have a lot of weapons offensively and the defense does a good job up front. It will be a tough matchup."


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