September 23, 2006

Wilson Has Break Out Performance In Bears' 42-28 Loss To Western Illinois

Sept. 23, 2006

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By Kyle Boyd
Media Relations Student Intern

GREELEY, Colo - Senior running back Andre Wilson led the University of Northern Colorado football team with 158 rushing yards on 30 carries in the Bears' 42-28 loss to Western Illinois on Saturday at Nottingham Field. It was Wilson's first 100-yard game in nine tries, dating back to Oct. 22 of last year against Southern Utah.

"I haven't seen the open field a lot; it was good to get out and run," said Wilson, who scored three rushing touchdowns for the Bears. It was his first multi-touchdown game since the Bears hosted Southeastern Louisiana last season.

Although Northern Colorado (1-3 overall) ended up out gaining Western Illinois (3-1) in total yards, the Bears lost the turnover battle, which seemed to seal the victory for the Leathernecks. WIU scored 14 points off three Northern Colorado turnovers.

"Turnovers will always kill you," said Bears junior quarterback Dominic Breazeale, who committed one of the turnovers with an interception in the second quarter. Breazeale finished with 209 yards passing and went 16-of-25.

Each team scored on its opening drive. WIU opened the game with an eight-play, 78-yard drive, capped off by a Herb Donaldson 26-yard touchdown run. Donaldson finished with 105 rushing yards on 12 carries.

The Bears answered with a drive of their own, capped off by Breazeale's one-yard sneak. The touchdown capped a 17-play, 79-yard drive that consumed nine minutes of the opening quarter.

After the opening drive, the Leathernecks scored 28 unanswered points and capitalized on two Northern Colorado turnovers to take a 35-7 lead.

Although the game seemed to be out of their reach, the Bears came back and pulled to within two touchdowns of the Leathernecks after Wilson punched it in the end zone twice, with his last touchdown coming with 47 seconds left in the game. Northern Colorado's momentum ran out, however, when Western Illinois recovered a Bears onside kick. The Leathernecks ran out the clock for the victory.

The Bears benefited from the return of junior punter Rafael Mendoza, who returned after missing last week's game against Texas State. Mendoza punted the ball four times with a nearly 40-yard average and one inside the 20. His day was highlighted with a season-long 58-yarder.

"I'm happy for Rafael; he came along well. I kept asking him all week, and he kept asking doctors and trainers all week if he could return," said head coach Scott Downing.

The Bears defense was led by Matt Thomas, who had eight tackles. Junior linebacker Asa Matthews chipped in with seven tackles. Freshman cornerback Myles Hayes claimed his first career sack after downing Western Illinois quarterback Steve LaFalce on a corner blitz in the second quarter.

Northern Colorado will be back in action next Thursday with a trip to Ogden, Utah, to take on the Weber State Wildcats. The game is set for a 6:35 p.m. (MST) kickoff and will be broadcast on ESPN-U, as well as 1310-AM KFKA in Greeley and 1510-AM KYOL in Denver. The game will also be available on BigSkyTV.org.