The Cougars’ historic victory over Simon Fraser brings life and momentum to entire team
If you didn’t know better, you would have thought the Azusa Pacific football team was an all-star squad in Madden NFL 18. They might as well be, as the Cougars put up an insane amount of points you only see in video games and had complete control over their opponent on Saturday.
After losing their first two Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) games of the season, the Cougars executed an unbelievable team performance in their historic victory at Simon Fraser. The Cougars defeated the Clan 83-7, breaking both the school record (68 points, scored in 2004 by Valley City State) and a GNAC conference record (77 points, set by Western Washington in 2001).
As a matter of fact, the Cougars set or tied numerous school and GNAC records which include: points scored at halftime (53), total points (83), touchdowns scored (11), PATs made (10) and PATs attempted (11).
“I could feel that our mindset going into this game was a little different. Guys had a little edge to them, and they wanted to keep the standard high, no matter who’s in the game. I could feel that difference in this game,” senior quarterback Andrew Elffers said.
The Cougars scored all of their points in the first three quarters of play and showed complete dominance on all sides of the ball. APU scored on each of their first 10 offensive possessions; the defense forced four turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns, and also managed to tack on two safeties. Seven touchdown drives lasted less than two minutes and took only four plays or less to score.
“I’m particularly happy with the run game, both offensively and defensively. On defense, that’s been a thorn in our side the first few games, and our defense really showed that up. Our offensive line recognized how physical they need to be every single play,” head coach Victor Santa Cruz said. “I also liked the efficiency of our spread offense. Those big plays were efficient, and our secondary was able to make big plays and score two defensive touchdowns. Our special teams also grew in all their phases, so today was a great day in all three phases of the game.”
In the first quarter, the Cougars scored 29 points, which included both a rushing and passing touchdown by Elffers and two rushing touchdowns by junior running back Kurt Scoby.
In the second, the Cougars added another 24 points, which included another rushing and passing touchdown. Late in the second, senior safety Taliuaki Suliafu brought an interception back 46 yards for a pick-six, giving the Cougars a 53-0 lead by halftime.
And the Cougars were not done yet, as they scored 30 more points in the third quarter with their second-team offense on the field. The biggest plays in the half came off a 50-yard touchdown run by Scoby and a 78-yard touchdown pass from backup redshirt-freshman QB Tyrone Williams Jr. to junior WR Brensten Lindsey. Another rushing touchdown, fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown and a safety capped off the quarter for the Cougars. The Clan also scored their first points of the game in the third, but it would make no difference to the final result.
From the fourth, the Cougars decided to control the game clock and end the game quickly with an 83-7 victory on the road.
“This was a big win for us, and I think it gives us a lot of momentum going into the next week. The whole team needed to see the potential we have and to see the areas we can grow,” Elffers said. “We’re just scratching the surface of our potential, so we have to execute and make the most of our practices.”
Both Elffers and Williams were near perfect in a combined passing effort for the Cougars. Elffers went 5-6 for 116 yards and two three touchdowns (one rushing) while Williams went 4-4 for 133 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, the Cougars combined for 361 yards, which was highlighted by Scoby who totaled 173 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns, averaging 15.7 yards per carry.
On defense, the team was led by junior LB Adrian Shocks who recorded six tackles, four tackles for loss, and the forced fumble that was returned for a Cougars touchdown.
Shocks explained how important it was for the team to come out and play aggressive defensive football.
“It was extremely important to us to come out and play together to correct the mistakes we’ve made and grow as a team,” Shocks said. “The last two weeks have been a wake-up call for us, and today was an indication of how we can move forward and become even greater as a defense.”
The Cougars are now 2-2 on the season and will look to carry this momentum into next week as they return back home to play Western Oregon on Saturday, Sept. 30 in another GNAC battle.
“Today was some fruit for all the hard work that’s been put in. I think a game like this helps motivate the group, but it helps us we got more tape and more experience with what this team can become,” Santa Cruz said. “Now our focus is on going 1-0 next week against Western Oregon. We’re going to continue pushing our standard forward and get back to work.”