Although the Cougars had some opportunities, it wasn’t enough to grab the win

Azusa Pacific football showed some encouraging signs on senior night, but ultimately fell to Central Washington by a score of 27-24. 

Central Washington running back Michael Roots led the way for the Wildcats, rushing for 196 yards and catching two passes for 23 yards. It was his second consecutive game with more than 200 total yards.

The Cougars jumped on top in the first quarter with a 15 play, 87-yard drive, capped by a three-yard touchdown carry by running back Dante Davis. The drive spanned more than nine minutes and gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead. It was both the first and last lead they would have throughout the game.

Central Washington responded quickly, marching 68 yards down the field in under two minutes on their first drive of the game. Kicker Patrick Hegarty nailed a 22-yard field goal to put the Wildcats on the scoreboard. Just before the end of the first quarter, Roots capped another quick drive with a six-yard touchdown run, giving Central Washington the 10-7 lead.

The Cougars bounced back in the second quarter with an 11-play, 70-yard drive, highlighted by a 30-yard run by running back Gil’Scott Jackson. However, APU was ultimately held to a 20-yard field goal, which was successfully converted by kicker and reigning GNAC Special Teams Player of the Week Ramzee Jaridly.

The 10-10 tie did not last long. Wildcats quarterback Christian Moore capped a 69-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown run, giving Central Washington a 17-10 lead. APU responded quickly as Cougars quarterback Tryone Williams Jr. threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Jackson just two minutes later, tying the game at 17.

The high-scoring first half was not over yet. Central Washington marched down quickly for 75 yards over eight plays, ultimately taking a 24-17 lead after a 32-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver JoJo Hillel. With less than a minute remaining, the Cougars opted to kneel, concluding the half.

After a quiet third quarter for both sides, the Wildcats opened the fourth quarter with a 29-yard field goal by Hegarty, giving them a 27-17 lead. After a pair of Central Washington penalties on the kickoff, the Cougars’ next drive started at midfield. They took advantage, trekking the remaining 50 yards on just seven plays. Williams Jr. finished the run by muscling through several Wildcat defenders at the goal line. The Cougars cut the deficit to 27-24 with 10:11 remaining.

A strong showing from the Cougars’ defense ultimately held the Wildcats to just three points in the second half, but the offense was unable to capitalize. The Cougars’ final chance came with 39 seconds left when they took possession from their own 25-yard line. They managed just 11 yards on five plays, leading to their fourth straight home loss. This is the first season since at least 1998 that the Cougars have been winless at home.

Moore finished 19 for 36 for 248 yards with one passing touchdown and an interception in the win. For the Cougars, Williams Jr. was 16 for 31 for 182 yards, one passing touchdown and an interception. Senior wide receiver Brandon Jackson caught six passes for 91 yards for the Cougars in his final home game.

The Cougars will play their final GNAC game of the year on Saturday, Nov. 9, as they take on first-place Western Oregon at McArthur Field in Monmouth, Ore. Kickoff is at 1:05 pm.