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It’s playoff time at last for the Wildcats!

The Central Washington University football team learned Sunday that it will begin its first Division II playoffs trip since 2017 with a first-round game at third-seeded Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association champion Northwest Missouri State (9-1 overall).

The sixth seed Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Wildcats (8-2, 4-0 GNAC), moved from Super Region Four to Super Region Three for bracket purposes Sunday, are scheduled to face off with the Bearcats at 10 a.m. Saturday, 1,657 miles away in Maryville, Missouri.

Northwest Missouri State survived Central 21-20 in their only other meeting Nov. 28, 2009, at Tomlinson Stadium in Ellensburg.

“We’ve been on a heck of a run since Angelo State,” said Wildcats coach Chris Fisk, whose side carries a 7-1 Super Region Four record this fall. “I think our résumé speaks for itself, and I think we’re definitely deserving of being in the playoffs. The two best teams in the Lone Star we either beat them or we took them down to the wire and they needed a two-minute drive to beat us, so we’d be hard-pressed to say we’re not one of the top teams in that area as well.”

Fisk also said Central’s plan was to assemble early Sunday, break the film of its 70-0 Senior Day annihilation of GNAC rival Simon Fraser from the night before and proceed like a normal week until the NCAA Division II Football Selection Show in one of the classrooms on campus, keeping its fingers crossed to be one of the 28 teams selected.

The Wildcats, winners of their fourth GNAC championship in a row and their 11th all-time, enter their sixth Division II postseason outscoring opponents by an average of 47-20.

Quincy Glasper has run and passed for 21 total touchdowns through six games, Rashaad Boddie leads rushers with seven scores in nine appearances, Darius Morrison is the top receiver with eight end zone trips and Jahleel Breland is the foremost tackler with 75 stops.

Northwest Missouri State outscores the competition 38-9 on average and has won six national championships between its first in 1998 and its latest in 2016.

Sophomore quarterback Mike Hohensee has thrown 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this fall, senior running back Al McKeller has scored 15 times on the ground, senior wide receiver Kaden Davis has taken seven catches to the end zone, and senior linebacker Jackson Barnes leads the defense with 61 tackles.

Central had a great time against Simon Fraser (1-7, 0-4) before 3,961 in attendance Nov. 13 in Ellensburg.

“70-0, last game at home? I don’t think you could ask for it any better way,” Wildcats graduate linebacker Hamilton said. “I’ve been here four years, three seasons, and I’ve never been part of as tight-knit a team as this. Every time we get together, there’s something special in the air, and I love going out there and playing with my teammates and having fun with them.”

Central, unbeaten in the conference for the first time since it last made the playoffs, sent the Dogs to their third loss of at least 39 points in a row, and beat Simon Fraser for the 40th time in 51 meetings, a span in which they’ve taken 15 in a row and are 20-3 at home.

The Wildcats honored Hamilton, Tony Archie, Michael Chisley, Isaac Crichton, Fred Feleti, Jojo Hillel, Maxwell Nauer, Will Ortner, Samuel Sanchez, Van Soderberg, Zach Stecklein, Tytus Timoteo, and Davine Tullis before their final collegiate home game.

Central reeled off 495 total yards while the Dogs picked up 12 on the ground and 80 through the air for eight first downs, went 2-for-15 on third downs and committed 16 penalties for 160 yards.

Glasper completed 18 of 25 passes for 289 yards and his second five-touchdown outing in a row, and ran eight times for 32 yards and two more end zone trips in the Wildcats’ 200-yard ground performance.

No Central quarterback has done that since Reilly Hennessey against Azusa Pacific and Simon Fraser in back-to-back games in 2017.

Tyler Flanagan carried 12 times for 64 yards and caught a 22-yard third-quarter touchdown pass, and Morrison took six catches for 122 yards and a 53-yard touchdown.

“For starters, we’re roommates so we’re always going to have that connection, but in the offseason we practiced a lot, so we built that trust,” said Glasper of Morrison. “I just know in tough situations when we need those yards, I know that’s one of the guys on the team that will make those plays, and it’s not just him: It’s everybody on this team.”

Daeon Hudson and Patrick Rogers picked Dogs sophomore Justin Seiber of Bothell in the first half — Hudson from 61 yards in the first quarter and Rogers from 71 yards in the second — and Jeremy Banks intercepted sophomore Brandon Niksich in the end zone as time expired in the fourth after Tanner Volk picked him in the third.

The two pick-sixes were the Wildcats’ most since their 36-34 loss Sept. 20, 2014 at Western Oregon in Monmouth.

Chisley, Stecklein, Matt Wiitanen and Chase Loidhamer all came up with sacks, and Breland led all Central tacklers with 10 stops.

Seiber went 6-of-16 for 41 yards, and Niksich finished 5-for-15 for 39 yards.

Dogs junior running back Paul Thomas carried six times for 21 yards, freshman wide receiver Sam Davenport caught two passes for 27 yards and senior linebacker Griffin Barrett made 11 tackles.

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