Azusa Pacific’s head football coach Victor Santa Cruz, looks at every game as a “new season” and a chance to go “1-0.” Nevertheless, fresh off their historic 83-7 victory over Simon Fraser last Saturday, the APU offense continued right where it left off with a 48-17 win over Western Oregon Saturday night at Citrus Stadium.
“I think today we really grew up. In the third quarter I saw young guys really take leadership roles,” Santa Cruz said.
Western Oregon started with a five-yard touchdown run by tight end and fullback Caleb Tingstad to give the Wolves a 7-0 lead.
The Cougars offense responded by driving down the field, but was forced to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Jacob Hall after senior quarterback Andrew Elffers was sacked.
However, early in the second quarter, APU running back Kurt Scoby found a seam and broke loose with a 59-yard touchdown run to give the Cougars a 10-7 lead.
After not playing in the first three games of the season, Scoby has scored six touchdowns in the past two games, three of them coming against Western Oregon.
“It’s really my offensive linemen, without them I really wouldn’t do anything,” Scoby said.
As the Cougars were threatening inside the red zone mid-way through the second quarter, Elffers delivered a throw toward the back pylon of the end zone to sophomore wide receiver Weston Carr, who hauled it in to extend the lead to 17-7.
The offense looked like it was poised to take over, but after 17 straight points by the Cougar offense, Western Oregon mounted a drive that led to junior kicker Adrian Saldana nailing a 49-yard field goal to make the score 17-10 going into the half.
After an APU punt to open the second half, Western Oregon put together an 11-play, 65-yard drive, which ended with a seven-yard touchdown run by quarterback Philip Fenumiai to tie the game 17-17.
The APU offense retaliated with Kurt Scoby bulldozing in for a one-yard touchdown run to retake the lead 24-17.
In the second half, the APU offense and defense both buckled down, scoring 31 unanswered points to run away with the win.
“I thought in the first half we made some mistakes and we weren’t executing at a high level. They came out at halftime and they really took the challenge,” Santa Cruz said.
The APU defense, which allowed Central Washington to score a game winning field goal with one second on the clock two weeks ago, did not let up against Western Oregon.
“Santa Cruz pulled us over to the side and told us, ‘Guys we know what we got to do, we know our culture. Let’s go out there and let’s dominate,’” junior linebacker Aaron Berry said.
In the fourth quarter, Elffers and Carr connected on a 35-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to extend the lead to 31-17.
Carr and Scoby were the bright spots for the Cougars, combining for a total of 355 yards of offense.
“Weston [Carr] is a guy who can take the top off. He sees a lot of double coverage, but there is a great connection between him and the quarterback [Elffers],” Santa Cruz said.
Carr finished the game with 11 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Scoby finished with 161 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
After starting the season 1-2, the Cougars are now 3-2 and are on a two-game winning streak. However, Santa Cruz knows there is still a lot of football left to be played.
“We’re still not playing to our peak performance,” Santa Cruz said. “These guys are great. They have the right attitude, so we’re going to coach them to be the best football team we can be.”
The Cougars will look to extend their winning streak next week on Oct. 7 at home, where they will face Colorado Mines in a non-league matchup at Citrus Stadium.