Tyrone Williams’ first start of his career at APU is full of touchdowns and major upside
The Azusa Pacific Cougars relied on a dynamic offensive attack along with great defense for a 41-16 victory over Western Oregon on the road. The Cougars improve to 6-4 overall and 4-4 in GNAC conference play.
The starting quarterback on the day looked like a seasoned veteran. Redshirt-freshman QB Tyrone Williams Jr. filled in for senior Andrew Elffers, who didn’t play due to an undisclosed injury. Williams had a stellar performance as he threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns. Williams ended the day going 19 for 29 passing and added 28 yards on the ground.
“I just knew I had to go quick but honestly, my coach and Andrew [Elffers] did a great job of preparing me all week,” Williams said. “So I knew that everything I would get, I knew it was coming. I thought they did a really good job of preparing me.”
Williams talked about how Elffers talked to him before the game, telling him to remain calm and focused.
“He was just telling me that I got to stay focused and let the game come to me. I know exactly what to do because we go over film so much. He prayed with me and we were good,” Williams said.
The scoring began from the Western Oregon Wolves after a 79-yard drive that concluded with a eight-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Devon Fortier.
However, the Cougars responded two minutes later in the opening quarter on a 58-yard passing touchdown from Williams to sophomore wide receiver Darrell Adams Jr.
“I was excited to show the maturity of the group,” head coach Victor Santa Cruz said. “The preparation of Tyrone [Williams Jr.], that he had been working really hard as a great backup role to Andrew Elffers and his day came for him to be in there, and he took advantage of it. His preparation showed off. Coach Carlton [APU’s Offensive Coordinator and QB coach] and the offensive staff have done a really great job collectively with that whole group and particularly with developing ‘T-Will’ to where he’s ready for the big day. I think it showed today.”
The first quarter ended with a two-yard passing touchdown for the Wolves from senior quarterback Nick Duckworth to senior wide receiver Paul Rivas. The first quarter ended 13-7 for the Wolves.
“It was just simple. It was the small things,” junior linebacker Aaron Berry said. “Those smallest things can be a big play, can be a small play, so I think the little details and when we go in film, we got a lot to learn. We made a lot of mistakes and those little mistakes turn into touchdowns. So if we fix those little mistakes, we can be even better.”
Aaron Berry led the team in tackles with six and had 2.5 tackles for loss. This is when the defense really applied the pressure and the force to stop Western Oregon. The Cougars defense pitched a shutout in the second quarter while the offense rallied for 21 points.
“Coach just talked about ‘let’s finish strong,'” Berry said. “You want to start a certain tempo for how we are going to go on for next year. At the end of the day, these seniors mean the most to us. They’ve been there and they led us throughout the whole season. Wins or losses, they were there for us so, why can’t we give our all for them.”
This was instrumental in stretching the lead. The three Cougars touchdowns in the second quarter began with a 22-yard passing touchdown from Williams to sophomore tight end Shane Hursh.
The defense stopped the Wolves on fourth down after Williams fumbled the ball on the Cougars own 28-yard line. Williams also had an interception late in the game; these were his only two mistakes on the evening.
“I know I just got to hold the ball a lot tighter. I just got to hold it tighter, get the grip. Running backs always tell me I hold it a certain way and they tell me ‘don’t hold it that way,'” Williams said.
The Cougars connected for another passing touchdown with 1:43 left before halftime. This time, Williams found redshirt-freshman wide receiver Jordan Bogardus on a 30-yard reception.
The defense stopped the Wolves on the next drive. It only took two plays after the punt before the Cougars scored again with 29 seconds remaining before the half. Williams converted on a 26-yard passing touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Weston Carr, giving APU a 28-13 lead at halftime.
Western Oregon scored the only points of the third quarter from a 27-yard field goal by junior kicker Adrian Saldana.
The Wolves had a strong defensive presence on APU’s rushing attack, but the Cougars were finally able to break through and score two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Both of the rushing touchdowns were from junior running back Kurt Scoby.
In the first minute of the fourth quarter, Scoby scored on a 19-yard run on third-and-long. Scoby’s next touchdown was from one yard out after the blocked punt by the Cougars special teams. Scoby ended the day with 103 yards on the ground from 20 carries and 21 yards from two catches.
Williams connected with seven different receivers in this game. Carr was the leading receiver with five catches for 74 yards, followed by Adams with three catches for 72 yards and Bogardus with five catches for 63 yards.
“I was really happy with the offense,” Santa Cruz said. “It just shows the variety of weapons and the attention we are trying to put on all the different positions of the offense that we attack you with. We want to be an offense that is going to make you cover the whole field, inside and outside, and I think this week we took a big step forward to show that.”
The Cougars will head home for their final game of the year next week versus Colorado Mesa on Nov. 11 at 6:00 p.m. at Citrus Stadium.
“This has been a very good football team to be apart of. I love the guys,” Santa Cruz said. “The coaching staff has worked really hard. We have a Colorado Mesa team coming in that’s ranked and we know that they are a very good football team. We’re at home. I can’t wait. I love this game and I love the fact that I get to go to work one last time with this group and we get a whole week together.”