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Cougars Soar While Gardner Rolls In Football Race
Humboldt State's Ja'Qian Gardner rushed for four touchdowns in the Jacks 56-24 win over Simon Fraser, becoming the school's all-time leading scorer in the process.
Humboldt State's Ja'Qian Gardner rushed for four touchdowns in the Jacks 56-24 win over Simon Fraser, becoming the school's all-time leading scorer in the process.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

They finished third in 2015 after winning the GNAC title in each of the two seasons previous. Now Azusa Pacific is making an early bid to make it three titles in four years.

The Cougars jumped out to the early lead in the GNAC title picture, improving to 2-0 on the season and 3-0 overall with their 27-17 win at Central Washington on Saturday. Azusa Pacific scored two first quarter touchdowns and held off a Wildcats’ bid to win late with two interceptions on each of CWU’s final drives.

Azusa Pacific enters the week as the only GNAC team without a loss. The Cougars are ranked No. 15 this week in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll.

Humboldt State, meanwhile, did its part to stay on Azusa Pacific’s heels with a 56-24 win at Simon Fraser. In usual fashion, Ja’Quan Gardner was the prime mover in the offense as the junior running back rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns. In the process, Gardner became the Lumberjacks’ all-time leading scorer with 258 points.

Gardner was not the only running back to have a big game in Burnaby. Jalen Jana carried 29 times for a GNAC season-high 262 rushing yards and a late touchdown. With the performance, Jana moved into second in the GNAC in rushing yardage with an average of 97 yards per game.

The game of the week in the conference will be in Arcata, Calif., where the Lumberjacks will host Western Oregon. While the two teams battled until the final week of the season last year for the conference title, the Wolves will need a win to keep pace with the top three teams in the conference. Western Oregon dropped to 1-2 overall with a 55-0 loss at Division I-FCS Montana State.

The other GNAC game of the week will find Simon Fraser at Azusa Pacific. Central Washington will close its non-conference schedule at former GNAC member Dixie State.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE
Ja’Quan Gardner, Humboldt State
RB • 5-7 • 255 • Junior • Ceres, Calif.

Gardner became Humboldt State’s all-time leading scorer with 24 points in Saturday’s 56-24 win at Simon Fraser. He carried 19 times for a season-high 211 yards and four touchdowns, which included a touchdown run of 87 yards.

Also Nominated: Aaron Baltazar (Azusa Pacific), Jalen Jana (Simon Fraser).

DEFENSE
C.J. Broussard, Azusa Pacific
CB • 6-0 • 198 • Senior • Clovis, Calif.

Broussard finished with six tackles and had a fourth quarter interception, one of three by the Cougars in their 27-17 win at Central Washington.

Also Nominated: Sefa Tauanu’u (Humboldt State).

SPECIAL TEAMS
Jacob Hall, Azusa Pacific
K/P • 6-2 • 195 • Sophomore • Greenville, Ill.

Hall punted five times for a total of 224 yards, averaging 44.8 yards per punt, including a season-long punt of 65 yards in the Cougars’ 27-17 victory over Central Washington. Hall succeeded in keeping the ball from CWU’s top return man, Jesse Zalk, who returned two punts for 11 yards.

Also Nominated: Alex Elterman (Humboldt State).

LAST WEEK'S GAMES
AZUSA PACIFIC 27, AT CENTRAL WASHINGTON 17
ELLENBURG, Wash. - A pair of first quarter touchdowns and a trio of interceptions provided all that Azusa Pacific needed for a 27-17 win over Central Washington at Tonlinson Stadium. The Cougars opened scoring when Aaron Baltazar scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:36 left in the opening period and Tanner Henry made it a 13-0 game when he caught a 15-yard Andrew Elffers touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in the first. The Wildcats charged back as Christian Cummings scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Justin Lane and Kyler Gracey brought CWU within 13-10 at halftime with a 22-yard field goal. Jesse Zalk gave Central Washington its first lead, 17-13, when he caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Lane with 6:38 left in the third quarter. Azusa Pacific took the lead for good when Elffers found Baltazar for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 4:02 remaining and then found Ethan Zeidler for a 20-yard scoring strike with 1:59 left. The Cougars’ defense produced three interceptions, including two in the final five minutes of the game. Elffers completed 12 of 22 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns for Azusa Pacific, with Zeidler catching four of those passes for 54 yards. Baltazar carried 20 times for 93 yards. Lane completed 16 of 34 passes for Central Washington for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Cummings carried 19 times for 88 yards and Zalk caught four passes for 54 yards. Jonathan Thropay and Aaron Berry had 11 tackles apiece to lead the APU defense. Max McIntosh’s 13 tackles, with two for loss, led Central Washington.

AT MONTANA STATE 33, WESTERN OREGON 0
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Division I-FCS Montana State limited Western Oregon to 190 yards of total offense Saturday, handing the Wolves a 55-0 loss at Bobcat Stadium. Despite the final score, the opening quarter proved a defensive battle with the Bobcats opening with a Gabe Peppenger 32-yard field goal as the first quarter expired. The floodgates opened in the second with Montana State scoring four straight touchdowns and took a 34-0 lead on Devon Tandberg’s 37-yard field goal with 2:46 left in the first half. The Bobcats added a touchdown in the third quarter and two in the fourth. Nick Duckworth led three Western Oregon quarterbacks to play in the game, completing 10 of 17 passes for 57 yards. Wesley Gray caught seven passes for 36 yards while Steven Long carried nine times for 49 yards. Montana State’s Tyler Bruggman completed 17 of 29 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns. He was one of four Motnana State quarterbacks to throw passes in the game. Mitch Herbert caught six passes for 100 yards and Gunnar Brekke carried 16 times for 52 yards. Tafatolu Tafai and Tyler Johnson each had six tackles to lead the Western Oregon defense.

HUMBOLDT STATE 56, AT SIMON FRASER 24
BURNABY, B.C. -  Ja’Quan Gardner became Humboldt State’s all-time leading scorer with his four touchdowns Saturday, leading the Lumberjacks to a 56-24 win over Simon Fraser at Swangard Stadium. The four scores, three of which came in the first half, gave Gardner 258 points for his career, surpassing the 249 scored by Matt Bruder from 2010 to 2014. Gardner opened scoring with an 87-yard touchdown run with just over five miunutes gone in the game and made it a 14-0 game when he scored on a 9-yard run with 4:52 left in the first. The two scores were the start of a 35-point scoring run for the Lumberjacks, which ended when Chad Heerspink connected on a 33-yard field goal for Simon Fraser with 4:04 left in the first half. Humboldt State eventually built its lead to 49-10 on Gardner’s 58-yard touchdown run with 1:48 left in the third. Simon Fraser scored all three of its touchdowns in the second half, capped by a 52-yard scoring run by Jalen Jana with 7:14 left in the game. Gardner carried 19 times for 211 yards and the four touchdowns while Robert Webber completed 14 of 19 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Jana carried 29 times for 262 yards to lead Simon Fraser while Miles Richardson completed 14 of 38 passes for 167 yards. Justin Buren caught six passes for 108 yards. Humboldt State outgained Simon Fraser 471 to 408. Daniel Castro led Humboldt State defensively with five tackles while Jordan Herdman led Simon Fraser with eight tackles.

AROUND THE GNAC
AZUSA PACIFIC
• Two first quarter touchdowns and two interceptions on Central Washington’s last two series gave Azusa Pacific a 27-17 win over the Wildcats on Saturday. With the win, the Cougars improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in GNAC play.

CJ Broussard was named GNAC Defensive Player of the Week after he came up with six tackles and one of Azusa Pacific’s three interceptions. His pick came on the Wildcats’ penultimate drive of the game and led to the Cougars’ final touchdown. Broussard enters the week 15th in Division II with 0.7 interceptions per game.

• Punter Jacob Hall was named the GNAC Special Teams Player of the Week after punting five times against Central Washington, averaging 44.8 yards per punt. He succeeded in keeping the ball out of the hands of dynamic CWU return man Jesse Zalk, who had just 11 yards on two return attempts.

• Azusa Pacific spread the wealth on the offensive side of the ball with nine receivers catching passes and four running backs carrying the ball. Quarterback Andrew Elffers completed 12 of 22 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Elffers enters the week second int he GNAC and 37th in Division II with a pass efficency rating of 147.6.

• Return specialist Tyree Davis enters the week ranked eighth in Division II with 301 combined return yards. Safety Aaron Berry is one of three GNAC players tied for 17th in Division II with 11.3 tackles per game.

• Azusa Pacific enters the week leading the GNAC in scoring defense (18.0 points allowed per game), total defense (349.7 yards allowed per game), pass defense efficiency (102.2), turnover margin (3.00), kickoff returns (35.6 yards per return) and field goals (.750, 3 for 4).

• With the win, Azusa Pacific climbed one spot to No. 15 in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll.

• The Cougars play their third consecutive conference game on Saturday and their first at home, hosting Simon Fraser at 1 p.m.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• A solid overall offensive performance was hampered by three interceptions by Azusa Pacific, including two on the Wildcats’ final two drives, as Central Washington fell in their home opener to the Cougars, 27-17.

• Quarterback Justin Lane completed 16 of 34 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns, spreading passes out to eight different receivers. Lane enters the week ranked second in the GNAC with 258 yards of total offense per game and 255 passing yards per game (38th in Division II).

• Running back Christian Cummings finished wth 113 yards of total offense, including 19 carries for 88 yards.

• Wide receiver and return specialist Jesse Zalk was limited to just two punt reutrns for 11 yards. He caught four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown in the game. Zalk enters the week leading the GNAC with 83 receiving yards per game and is tied for fifth in Division II with five receiving touchdowns.

• Defensive back Jackson Huerta is one of three GNAC players tied for 17th in Division II with 11.3 tackles per game and is second in Division II wih nine solo tackles per game. Huerta added seven tackles and one for loss in the loss to Azusa Pacific.

• In the team statistics, Central Washington leads the GNAC in opponent first downs (61) and time of possession (31:36 per game) and is second in passing offense (255 yards per game), total offense (406.3 yards per game), first downs (66), scoring defense (30 points allowed per game), total defense (405.3 yards allowed per game) and turnover margin (0.00).

• Central Washington plays its final non-conference game of the season on Saturday, hosting former GNAC member Dixie State at 1 p.m.

HUMBOLDT STATE
• Behind a record-breaking performance performance by Ja’Quan Gardner, Humboldt State scored the first 35 points of the game and never looked back in a 56-24 win over Simon Fraser in Burnaby, B.C.

• Gardner carried 19 times for 211 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. Three of those touchdowns came in the first half, including an 87-yard scoring run in the first quarter. With the four touchdowns, Gardner became HSU’s all-time leading scorer with 258 points, surpassing the 249 scored by Matt Bruder between 2010 and 2014. The effort also moved Gardner to No. 5 on the GNAC all-time scoring list

• Quarterback Robert Webber completed 14 of 19 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, spreading the production to seven different receivers. Wide receiver Richard Doctor caught four of those passes for 32 yards and two touchdowns. Webber enters the week leading the GNAC and ranking 30th in Division II with 273 passing yards per game. He also leads the GNAC and is 22nd in Division II with a pass efficency rating of 163.8.

• The Lumberjacks had an evenly distributed defensive effort with eight players with at least three tackles, led by a team-high five tackles by Daniel Castro.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser put up 408 yards of total offense in its home and GNAC opener Saturday, but the production came too late in a 56-24 loss to Simon Fraser.

• Running back Jalen Jana put up some impressive numbers for the Clan, carrying the ball 29 times for 262 yards and one fourth quarter touchdown. Jana enters the week ranked second in the GNAC 40th in Division II with 97 rushing yards per game.

• Wide receiver Justin Buren was once again the top target for quarterback Miles Richardson, catching six passes for 108 yards. Buren enters the week ranked third in the GNAC with 68.7 receiving yards per game. Richardson completed 14 of 38 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown.

Jordan Herdman added 11 tackles, all solo efforts, to his total of 39 for the season. He leads the GNAC and is ranked sixth in Division II with an average of 13 tackles per game. He is also second in Division II with an average of nine solo tackles per game. Herdman needs 17 more solo tackles to move into No. 3 on the GNAC all-time list and 17 more total tackles to move into No. 3 on that list.

• As a team, Simon Fraser leads Division II with an average of 55 yards per punt return. The Clan did not have any punt returns against Humboldt State.

WESTERN OREGON
• There would not be a second win for Western Oregon over a Division I-FCS team as Montana State scored 31 unanswered second quarter points en route to a 55-0 shutout of the Wolves in Bozeman, Mont.

• Western Oregon was limited to 190 yards of total offense in the game, 111 of which were passing yards. Nick Duckworth led three WOU quarterbacks to play in the game, completing 10 of 17 passes for 57 yards. Wesley Gray finished catching seven passes for 36 yards.

Steven Long made the most of short-gain opportunities, carrying nine times for 49 yards. He was one of five Wolves to carry the ball on the afternoon.

Paul Revis finished with a combined 70 return yards, running back two punts for 36 yards and two kickoff for 34 yards. Revis enters the week leading Division II with an average of 31 yards per return and is 34th in Division II with 220 combined kick return yards.

• Linebacker Bo Highburger is one of three GNAC players tied for 17th in Division II with an average of 11.3 tackles per game. He also ranks 16th in Division II with 6.7 solo tackles per game and 22nd with two tackles for loss per game. Highburger finished with five tackles and one for loss against Montana State. As a team, Western Oregon ranks 10th in Division II with 10 tackles for loss per game and had nine against Montana State.

• Western Oregon enters the week ranked second in the GNAC in kickoff returns (20.6 yards per return), punt return average (27.3 yards per return) and punting (33.3 yards per punt).

• Western Oregon faces another tough road test this weekend, traveling south to face Humboldt State on Saturday night.

• Simon Fraser hits the road for the third time his month, traveling to Azusa Pacific for a Saturday GNAC match-up.

• With the win, Humboldt State climbed one spot to No. 24 in the latest AFCA Division II Coaches Poll.

• Humboldt State leads the GNAC in scoring offense (45 points per game), rushing offense (202.3 yards per game), passing offense (276 yards per game), total offense (478.3 yards per game), pass efficency (158.4), first downs (70), pass defense (185.3 yards allowed per game) and punting (42.2 yards per punt). The Lukberjacks rank 22nd in Division II for total offense, 33rd in passing offense and 34th in rushing offense.

• Humboldt State completes a string of three consecutive GNAC games Saturday night, hosting Western Oregon at the Redwood Bowl.

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