Humboldt Seeks 4th Win; CWU, SFU 'Battle for the Border'
Tyrell Williams scored three touchdowns in WOU's win Saturday.
Tyrell Williams scored three touchdowns in WOU's win Saturday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. – The 2014 Great Northwest Athletic Conference football season officially kicks off Saturday in Bothell, Wash., as Central Washington takes on Simon Fraser in the “Battle For the Border” at Pop Keeney Stadium.

The game, which is presented by the Washington National Guard, is the only conference-counting game this weekend. 

The event will feature a Washington National Guard Fan Zone, which will open at 4 p.m.  Kickoff is at 6 p.m. Pacific.

Beginning next Saturday (Oct. 4), all the remaining games between conference opponents are league counters except the CWU-SFU game at Burnaby on Nov. 15.

In addition to the CWU-SFU game, three non-conference games are on Saturday’s schedule including a 6 p.m. contest at Arcata, Calif., between Western Oregon and Humboldt State.

The Wolves are 2-1 overall, losing only to FCS Portland  State (45-38).  They are coming off a dramatic 36-34 win against Central Washington last Saturday at McArthur Field in Monmouth.

Jesse Correa kicked a 32-yard field goal with 42 seconds left to give WOU the victory after Central had rallied from a 27-7 deficit late in the third quarter tying a GNAC single-game record by scoring twice in the final period on interceptions.

Humboldt State , which was winless in 11 games last season, has been impressive this fall winning three straight.  In the latter two they led by huge margins (30-3 over Azusa Pacific and 36-3 over Dixie State) at halftime.

Elsewhere pre-season favorite Azusa Pacific (2-1) will travel to St. George, Utah, to take on Dixie State (0-3) in a 6 p.m. contest.  Meanwhile, South Dakota Mines (0-3) will look for its first win at William Jewell, Mo.  Kickoff in the game is 1 p.m. (Central time).

Azusa  Pacific, Humboldt State Drawing Votes in AFCA Poll

Azusa Pacific, which was ranked 14th after defeating No. 2 Grand Valley State in its season opener, is still drawing votes in the AFCA national poll.

The Cougars were among “others receiving votes” this week and are 31st overall.  Humboldt State, despite a win over APU and a perfect record, is just 38th. Since losing to Azusa Pacific, Grand Valley has dropped two more games to fall to 0-3 and completely out of the rankings.

Humboldt State Ranked In Top 10 in Five Team Categories

Humboldt State is ranked in the Top 10 in five different team statistical categories, mostly on defense where it has allowed just 27 points in three contests.

The ‘Jacks are sixth in total defense (220.0), seventh in scoring defense (9.0), and eighth in both passing defense (117.0) and pass efficiency defense (79.57).

They also rank third in kickoff returns, averaging 31.8 yards per return.  Individually freshman running back Ja’Quan Gardner ranks 10th nationally averaging 33.5 yards per return.  HSU defensive back Nick Sharpe ranks second in passes defended (2.7 per game).

South Dakota Mines’ Lata Second in Fumble Recoveries

Along with HSU’s Sharpe, South Dakota’s Jay Lata also is ranked second nationally in a category.  He is second in fumble recoveries with two.

Three players have Top 5 national rankings – Simon Fraser’s Jordan Herdman in tackles (14.0 per game) and Lata and Tyler Thornton of Azusa Pacific, who are tied for fifth in forced fumbles (0.67).

Simon Fraser punter Nickolai Karpun is ranked sixth in punting (45.5) and is on pace to break the GNAC single-season record of 44.9 by NFL veteran Michael Koenen of Western Washington in 2002.

Defense Scores: Central Washington tied its own GNAC single-game record for touchdown interceptions returning two for scores in the fourth quarter in its 36-34 loss to Western Oregon.  Defensive tackle Matt Miller had a 46-yard return with 11:06 left in the game.  Later DB DeAndre Baines had a 54-yarder to give the Wildcats a 34-33 lead with 3:48 left.  CWU had two against WOU in 2005, both by Brandon Kennedy.  Those came just 63 seconds apart early in the second quarter  as CWU set records for points in a quarter (34) and half (55) on the way to a 61-33 victory ... CWU’s two TD interceptions were the first in the GNAC this season. Later Saturday night Travis Hansen of Humboldt State added another scoring on a 67-yard return.

Game Recaps

Humboldt State 50, Dixie State 3 (Sept. 20 at Saint George):  Freshman quarterback Robert Webber completed 23 of 31 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns and the Lumberjacks held the Red Storm to 147 yards, the 10th lowest total in GNAC history. Webber’s former high school teammate Chase Krivashei had seven receptions for 75 yards, including a six-yard TD pass for the game’s first score at the 11:49 mark of the first quarter ... Dixie State completed just six of 22 passes for 71 yards against the HSU defense, which had two interceptions including a 67-yard return for a touchdown by linebacker Travis Hansen, and eight other pass breakups, three each by Nick Sharpe and Jamal Jones ... With the ‘Jack defense dominating, Humboldt controlled the football for 35 minutes, 47 seconds, 11 ½ minutes more than DSU.  Linebacker Cameron Buell led HSU with eight tackles and Hansen had six ..DBs Zac Christian and Aeryus Holloway led the Red Storm with nine and eight tackles, respectively, and defensive end Jake Miller had seven, including two for losses of 16 yards ...Both punters had good nights – HSU’s Chris Campbell averaged 43 yards on five boots.  Dixie’s Robert Metz had a 42.0 yard average on 10 punts, put three inside the 20 and didn’t allow a punt return.

Western Oregon 36, Central Washington 34 (at Monmouth):  Jesse Correa kicked a 32-yard field goal with 42 seconds left as the Wolves, who led 27-7 late in the third quarter, escaped with a two-point win at McArthur Field ... CWU used a GNAC-record tying two interception touchdowns to go ahead with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter.  DB DeAndre Baines grabbed his second – and CWU’s fourth – interception near midfield and returned it 54 yards to put his team ahead ... The Wolves, however, then drove 55 yards on 12 plays, getting a 4th-and-6 conversion from its own 46 on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Bergman to Kamakana Apelu.  From there, WOU made one more first down before bringing on Correa, who earlier had missed an extra point and a 36-yard attempt, for the winning field goal ... Bergman had mixed numbers in the game.  He threw for 237 yards and four touchdowns, but completed just 44.4 percent (16 of 36) of his attempts and was intercepted four times ....Tyrell Williams had an outstanding game for the Wolves, catching five for 119 yards and three touchdowns, increasing his career receiving total to 2,129 yards.  That ranks 10th in GNAC history ... CWU quarterback Jake Nelson completed 27 of 47 passes for 303 yards as Greg Logan  - the GNAC’s leading receiver - caught seven for 123 yards ... Defensively CWU got big numbers from linebackers Mitch Haldane (16 tackles) and Kevin Haynes (15 tackles) and from defensive end Tovar Sanchez (8 tackles).  Sanchez had 4 ½ tackles for losses of 31, including three sacks for losses of 29, falling two yards shy of the GNAC record for sacks ... Linebacker Shane Kuenzi had 10 tackles and defensive end Kraig Akins had seven to lead WOU.  Akins had four tackles for losses of 17 and also had a pick.

Azusa Pacific 32, Simon Fraser 24 (at Glendora, CA): Terrell Watson rushed for 183 yards and surpassed the 4,000 career rushing mark in leading the Cougars past the Clan ... Watson now has 4,041 yards including 3,344 yards in three seasons in the GNAC.  He is the only player in GNAC history to rush for 3,000 or more yards ... APU finished the game with 260 rushing yards as quarterback Chad Jeffries rushed for 96 on 12 carries.  Jeffries also completed 14 of 23 passes for 163 yards, passing for two scores and scoring one ... Still, the Cougars, who led 23-3 at halftime, had to hold on after the Clan cut its deficit to six points in the third on touchdown passes of five yards to Cole Tudor and eight yards to Andrew Pauls  from quarterback Ryan Stanford ... Stanford completed 20 of 39 passes for 153 yards to increase his career passing total to 3,087 yards.  SFU, however, managed just 230 yards in total offense (77 rushing), compared to 423 by the Cougars.  Clan punter Nickolai Karpun averaged 44.0 yards on five punts, maintaining his 45.5 average and No. 6 national rank ... SFU linebacker Jordan Herdman had 20 tackles, just five off the GNAC record.  He currently leads the conference with 42 tackles in three contests.  Defensive back Jake Oram and linebacker Mitchell Barnett had nine each. Defensive back Jonathan Thropay had eight for APU.

Wisconsin-River Falls 43, South Dakota Mines 28 (at Rapid City, SD): Quarterback Ryan Kusilek did virtually everything for UW-River Falls, completing 32 of 45 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown.  He also scored seven extra points (5 kicking and one on a PAT rush) and punted six times for 224 yards ... With Kusilek at the controls the visitors netted 577 yards of offense (172 rushing, 405 passing).  South Dakota Mines, which leads the GNAC in total offense, averaging 458.3 yards per game, had 442 total yards. 409 by quarterback Trent McKinney.  McKinney rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and completed 32 of 48 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns and was not intercepted.  Rashad Ridley caught eight passes for 92 yards ...  The game was tied at 7-7, 14-14 and 21-21 before UW-River Falls scored late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter ... Linebacker Jay Lata led the Hardrockers with nine tackles, including a seven-yard quarterback sack.

GNAC Football Players of the Week

Offense –  Tyrell Williams, Western Oregon (WR, 6-4, 200, Sr., Salem, OR - Cascade) caught five passes for 119 yards, including touchdown receptions of 72 and five yards in the second quarter and eight yards in the fourth quarter.  The latter score gave the Wolves a 33-21 lead with 8:27 remaining in the game.  Williams now  ranks 10th in GNAC history in career receiving yards with 2,129 yards and his average per catch of 16.8 ranks ninth.  

Defense – Travis Hansen, Humboldt State (LB, 6-2, 235, Sr., San Anselmo, CA – Siskiyous) helped the Lumberjacks hold Dixie State to 147 yards in total offense (76 rushing and 71 passing) in a 50-3 victory.  It was the fewest amount of yards allowed by HSU since it limited Southern Oregon to 112 in 2005 and the 10th lowest in GNAC history.  Hansen had six tackles, including a five-yard quarterback sack.  He also had a 67-yard interception for a touchdown late in the second quarter as the ‘Jacks built up a 36-3 halftime lead.  

Special Teams – John Keating, South Dakota Mines (P, 6-1, 222, Jr., Tucson, AZ – Sabino) averaged 44.3 yards on six punts, including a long of 58.   Three of his six punts were inside the 20.