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Azusa Pacific Named Red Lion Team of the Week
The Cougar defense recorded 10 TFL, 10 pass breakups, four sacks and forced four turnovers in its win against Grand Valley State.
The Cougar defense recorded 10 TFL, 10 pass breakups, four sacks and forced four turnovers in its win against Grand Valley State.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - Beating the No. 2 team in the nation in front of a national televised audience is not a bad way to start off the season.

Azusa Pacific was named the Red Lion Team of the Week after doing just that last Thursday, knocking off second-ranked Grand Valley State 26-23 in overtime.

“As a football coach you’re excited when your team wins,” APU head coach Victor Santa Cruz said. “You are excited to see the fruit of their labor…I know opening up week one with a win – every program in America is excited about that.”

In front of a record crowd of 6,199, Azusa Pacific gained 267 yards of offense while allowing only a field goal in the second half against the Lakers.

The Cougars offense rode the back of Terrell Watson (RB, 6-2, 240, Sr., Oxnard, CA) all night, including all 11 plays in overtime. Watson totaled 202 yards on 42 carries and scored three times, two of them in the overtime period.

Defensively, the Cougars kept the pressure on as the team totaled 10 TFL and four sacks from four different players. Five defensive backs also combined for 10 pass break-ups.

“I’m excited about (the defense's) performance,” coach Santa Cruz said. “It’s exciting for them coming out of the gate. I thought they played with passion. I thought they had fun. For a defense, those are the fundamental things you have to do to be successful.”

Leading this unit was Errik Manning (LB, 6-1, 231, Jr., Necedah, WI), who had a team-high 15 tackles and one tackle for a loss, and redshirt freshman Taliuaki Suliafu (SS, 6-0, 180, Fr., Moreno Valley, CA) who recorded 12 tackles, including a sack and three TFL.

"We knew our defense was athletic, and they have a special hunger about them,” Santa Cruz said. “To watch them perform the way they did made us very proud as a coaching staff.

“We have a really good young nucleus, and we’re excited to get back to work and continue to build this thing."

The Cougars, who climbed from 22nd to 14th in the AFCA national poll with the victory, travel to Humboldt State Saturday for a non-conference game.

Humboldt State also had an impressive victory Saturday defeating Texas A&M - Kingsville 27-14 to snap a 13-game losing streak dating back to late in the 2012 season.

Kick-off is set for 6 p.m.

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