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Cat Fight Awaits As League's Two Undefeated Teams Meet
Azusa Pacific quarterback Andrew Elffers completed 12 of 17 passes in the win at Humboldt State, spreading his production to six different receivers.
Azusa Pacific quarterback Andrew Elffers completed 12 of 17 passes in the win at Humboldt State, spreading his production to six different receivers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Throw the preseason polls out, because GNAC football teams did just that two weeks into the year.

After week one, it looked as if Humboldt State and Western Oregon would have the upper-hand in the title race. The Lumberjacks opened with a high-scoring 52-45 win at Carson-Newman while Western Oregon upset Division I-FCS Sacramento State.

Nobody told Azusa Pacific and Central Washington to stick to that script as the two teams proceeded to beat the Lumberjacks and Wolves to open GNAC play. The Cougars used a very stout defensive performance to escape Arcata with a 38-27 win.

The Wildcats, who played Division I-FCS nationally ranked Portland State tough in the opening week, proceeded to score 28 unanswered points in a 20-minute span in the second half to shock the Wolves in their opener, 41-20. The Wildcats blistered Western Oregon for 261 passing yards, earning quarterback Justin Lane selection as the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week.

Week three will not get any easier. The marquee matchup will be in Ellensburg, where Central Washington will host Azusa Pacific in a battle of the league’s two 2-0 squads. The Wildcats enter the game averaging 33.5 points per game and 448 yards of total offense per game. The Cougars are scoring 33 points per game and 286.5 yards of total offense per game over the first two contests.
Humboldt State will travel north to Simon Fraser. The Clan will be playing its home and conference opener and is looking to right the ship after an 0-2 start to the season.

Western Oregon, meanwhile, will roll the dice again against a Division I-FCS opponent. Montana State is 1-1 on the season, with both of its games decided by three points. The Bobcats took a 20-17 loss to Idaho in their opener before scoring a 27-24 win at home over Division II Bryant in its home opener.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE
Justin Lane, Central Washington
QB • 6-2 • 211 • Senior • Arlington, Wash.

Lane led Central Washington to a 41-20 win at Western Oregon by completing 23 of 39 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. All three of his touchdown passes came in a second half that saw the Wildcats score 28 points in a 20-minute span.

Also Nominated: Andrew Elffers (Azusa Pacific), Paul Revis (Western Oregon).

DEFENSE
Lavell Thomas, Azusa Pacific
CB • 5-10 • 180 • Junior • Riverside, Calif.

Thomas had two of Azusa Pacific’s three interceptions in its 38-27 win at No. 13 Humboldt State, both of which ended the half. His last one came in the end zone with 11 seconds left, which secured the win for the Cougars.

Also Nominated: Jackson Huerta (Central Washington), Bo Highburger (Western Oregon).

SPECIAL TEAMS
Tyree Davis, Azusa Pacific
KR • 5-11 • 180 • Senior • San Diego, Calif.

Davis had only one kick return, but brought the kickoff back 91 yards. That run-back led to a late first quarter touchdown in Azusa
Pacific’s 38-27 win over Humboldt State.

LAST WEEK'S GAMES
CENTRAL WASHINGTON 41, AT WESTERN OREGON 20
MONMOUTH, Ore. - Central Washington used a 28-point second half performance to pull away from a close halftime lead and knock off Western Oregon, 41-20, in the GNAC opener for both teams at McArthur Field. Trailing 13-10 at the break, Western Oregon tied the game with a 26-yard Jacob Bannister field goal with 7:58 to go in the third. The Wildcats then proceeded to scored four consecutive touchdowns, taking a 20-13 lead on Justin Lane’s 31-yard scoring pass to Kent McKinney with 5:16 left in the third and then found Jesse Zalk on a five-yard strike with 1:06 in the frame for the 27-13 lead. Lane opened the fourth with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Self before Quincy Carter broke off a 64-yard scoring run with 1:28 to go. Western Oregon added a tocuhdown late when Phillip Fenumiai found Andy Avgi for a five-yard touchdown pass, Avgi’s second touchdown of the game. Central Washington outgained Western Oregon in total offense 451 to 353. Lane completed 23 of 39 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. McKinney caught seven of those passes for 99 yards and touchdown while Carter rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Fenumiai completed 13 of 25 for 169 ayrds and two touchdowns for Western Oregon while Nick Duckworth completed 13 of 19 for 177 yards. Paul Revis caught 11 passes for 132 yards while Malik Braxton caught five for 83 yards. Bo Highburger finished with 15 tackles and four tackles for loss to lead WOU on defense. Jackson Huerta had 12 tackles for CWU.

AZUSA PACIFIC 38, AT HUMBOLDT STATE 27
ARCATA, Calif. - Two timely interceptions and a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns allowed Azusa Pacific a 38-27 win over Humboldt State in the battle between the conference’s two nationally-ranked teams at the Redwood Bowl. The Cougars took a 14-10 lead in the first quarter thanks to a Samuela Fauna five-yard touchdown run and a Andrew Elffers’ four-yard scoring run. The Cougars went up 21-10 on Elffer’s 18-yard scoring pass to Josiah Thropay, but Ja’Quan Gardner brought the Lumberjacks within 21-17 with his four-yard touchdown run. Humboldt had a chance to take the lead on its last drive of the half, but Robert Webber was intercepted by Lavell Thomas to close the period. The two teams traded field goals in the third quarter before Humboldt took a 27-24 lead at the end of the third on Gardner’s three-year touchdown run. Azusa Pacific took the lead back when Elffers found Brandon Jackson for a 35-yard touchdown pass and Taliuaki Suliafu effectively closed the game out with his 63-yard interception return for the score. Humboldt State’s final drive was also stunted by an interception with Thomas picked off Webber in the end zone with 19 seconds left. Elffers completed 12 of 17 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Thropay was the top target, catching three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Kurt Scoby carried 13 times for 63 yards. Webber completed 18 of 31 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown, but was picked off three times. Gardner carried 27 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns while John Todd caught three passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Aaron Berry led Azusa Pacific with 14 tackles while Cameron Buell and Jeff Shott led Humboldt State with eight tackles.

AT TEXAS A&M-KINGSVILLE 68, SIMON FRASER 7
KINGSVILLE, Texas - Texas A&M-Kingsville limited Simon Fraser to 101 yards of total offense as the homestanding Javelinas rolled to a 68-7 win over the Clan Saturday at Javelina Stadium. The Javelinas used shock and awe to score 40 first quarter points, which inlcuded a three touchdown passes from Myles Carr and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jarrod Sanders. Texas A&M-Kingsville added a six-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Anthony Autry early in the second quarter before Trevor Kemp broke the shutout for Simon Fraser by returning a blocked punt 34 yards for the touchdown. The Javelinas added two more touchdowns in the third on interception returns and closed scoring on Darrow Adams’ 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth. Carr completed seven of eight passes for 163 yards and four touchdowns. Autry caught four passes for 109 yarda and three scores. Adams completed four passes for 22 yards and carried nine times for 59 yards while Nick Pelrean carried seven times for 67 yards. Simon Fraser quarterback Miles Richardson completed 11 of 35 passes for 108 yards. Justin Buren caught four passes for 51 yards. Jordan Herdman led the Simon Fraser defense with 11 tackles and one for loss.

AROUND THE GNAC
AZUSA PACIFIC
• The Cougars won the matchup of the GNAC’s two nationally ranked teams thanks to big defense, using three interceptions to beat Humboldt State 38-27 at the Redwood Bowl.

Lavell Thomas was named GNAC Defensive Player of the Week for his two interceptions, one to end each half. The second stopped the Lumberjacks in the endzone with 19 seconds left to ice the game. Taliuaki Suliafu had the Cougars’ third pick, returning it 63 yards for the game’s last touchdown.

• Offensively, Azusa Pacific was evenly split between ground game and passing game. Andrew Elffers completed 12 of 17 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns, finding Josiah Thropay and Brandon Jackson for the scores. Elffers also rushed for a touchdown as did Samuela Fanua in the first quarter.

Tyree Davis was named the GNAC Special Teams Player of the Week after he returned a kick 91 yards in the first quarter, setting up Elffer’s four-yard scoring run to make a 14-10 game.

• Thanks to the win, Azusa Pacific moved up eight spots to No. 16 in this week’s AFCA Division II Coaches Poll and made their first appearance in the D2Football.com Poll at No. 21.

• Azusa Pacific enters the week leading the GNAC in total defense (363.0 yards allowed per game), scoring defense (18.5 points allowed per game), rushing defense (106 yards allowed per game) and opponent first downs (43). The Cougars are 23rd in Division II in red zone defense (.571).

• In the return game, Azusa Pacific is fourth in Division with kickoff returns with 40.14 yards per return. Tyree Davis is 2nd in Division II individually with 53.3 yards per return.

• The Cougars return to conference play with another tough test on Saturday, playing at Central Washington. The game will pit the league’s two undefeated teams.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington used a string of 28 consecutive points over a 20-minute span in the second half to score a big 41-20 road win at Western Oregon to open GNAC play.

• Quarterback Justin Lane was named the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week after he completed 23 of 39 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. Lane enters the week second in the GNAC in passing at 291 yards per game and is 13th in Division II with six passing touchdowns.

Quincy Carter provided for 110 of the Wildcats’ 190 rushing yards, carrying 15 times for 110 yards and a touchdowns. A total of 10 players caught passes from Lane, led by seven catches by Kent McKinney for 99 yards and a touchdown.

Jackson Huerta had his second straight game with 10 more tackles, leading Central Washington with 12 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception.Huerta is third in the GNAC with 13.5 tackles per game and leads Division II with a total of 11 solo tackles and his average of 13.5 tackles per game ranks ninth in Division II.

• Central Washington enters the week ranked second in the GNAC in a number of statistical categories, including scoring offense (33.5 points per game), rushing offense (157 yards per game), pass offense (291 yards per game), total offense (448 yards per game), first downs (49), scoring defense (31.5 points allowed per game), total defense (430.5 yards allowed per game) and first downs (44). The Wildcats lead the GNAC in time of possession, averaging 32:52 per game.

• Despite an off week, Jesse Zalk enters the week ranked third in the GNAC and 21st in Division II with 161.5 all-purpose yards per game. His 97.5 receiving yards per game is second in the GNAC.

• Central Washington will face the GNAC’s only other remaining undefeated team, Azusa Pacific, in Ellensburg on Saturday.

HUMBOLDT STATE
• Humboldt State was stymied by a stellar defensive performance by Azusa Pacific in its GNAC opener, falling to the Cougars 38-27 at the Redwood Bowl.

• The Lumberjacks lost despite leading the game in most offensive numbers. Humboldt State outgained Azusa Pacific in total offense 453 to 331, which included 281 yards of passing offense.

• Quarterback Robert Webber completed 18 of 31 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times in the loss. John Todd was Webber’s top target, catching three passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Webber leads the GNAC and is 15th in Division II with an average of 325.5 passing yards per game. Webber also leads the GNAC and is 26th in Division II in total offense with 326 yards per game.

Ja’Quan Gardner carried 27 times for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a four-yard first quarter that gave HSU a 10-7 lead. Gardner leads the GNAC and is 10th in Division II with 119.5 all-purpose yards per game as well as third in Division II with 148.5 rushing yards per game.

• Despite the loss, the Lumberjacks still have a spot in both polls. Humboldt State dropped to No. 25 in the latest AFCA Division II Coaches Poll and dropped to No. 22 in the D2Football.com Poll.

• As a team, Humboldt State leads the GNAC in scoring offense (39.5 points per game), passing offense (325.5 yards per game), total offense (482 yards per game), pass efficency (161.4), pass defense (187.5 yards allowed per game), punting (41.1 yards per punt) and field goals (3/3, 1.000). Among Division II teams, Humboldt State is 17th in passing yards per game, 14th in net punting and 26th in team pass efficiency.

• Humboldt State returns to conference play on the road this Saturday, traveling north to face Simon Fraser.

SIMON FRASER
• Simon Fraser was limited to 101 yards of total offense as Texas A&M-Kingsville opened the game with 47 straight points as the Clan took a 68-7 loss to the Javelinas at Javelina Stadium.

• The scoring drought finally ended with Trevor Kemp returning a blocked punt 37 yards for a touchdown with 2:17 left in the second quarter.

• Starting his second game for the Clan, Miles Richardson completed 11 of 35 passes for 108 yards, but was intercepted three times. Justin Buren was Richardson’s top target, catching four passes for 51 yards.

Jordan Herdman led Simon Fraser defensively with 10 tackles, including one for loss. The senior leads the GNAC and is second in Division II with an average of 15.5 tackles per game. Herdman also ranks eighth in Division II with 7.5 solo tackles per game. With 31 tackles on the year, Herdman needs 40 tackles to become the GNAC all-time leader. He also needs 45 solo tackles to become the GNAC all-time leader in that category.

• The Clan open their GNAC schedule and its home schedule on Saturday, hosting Humboldt State.

WESTERN OREGON
• One week after scoring an upset over Division I-FCS Sacramento State, Western Oregon had few answers for a hot Central Washington team as the Wolves took a 41-20 loss in their home opener at McArthur Field.

• The Wolves finished with 353 yards of total offense, but were limited to 23 minutes of possession time and went just 1 of 12 on third down conversions.

• Western Oregon again went with the two-quarterback model. Nick Duckworth completed 13 of 19 passes for 177 yards and an interception. Phillip Fenumiai completed 13 of 25 for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

Paul Revis excelled in the receiving game, catching 11 passes for 132 yards. Malik Braxton had five passes for 83 yards. Tailback Andy Avgi had the Wolves’ two receiving touchdowns as he caught two passes for 34 yards.

• Revis enters the week second in the GNAC and 21st in Division II with 177.5 all-purpose yards per game. He also leads the GNAC with 98 receiving yards per game and is 11th in Division II with nine receptions per game.

• Defensively, Western Oregon ranks fifth in Division II with its average of five sacks per game, which included six against Central Washington. Bo Highburger, Jeremy Moore and Kui Williams are among five GNAC players leading the league with two sacks.

• Highburger enters the week ranked  fifth in Division II with 14.5 total tackles per game, is sixth with eight solo tackles and eighth with 2.5 tackles for loss.

• Western Oregon will play its second game against a Division I-FCS team this season, playing at Montana State on Saturday. The Bobcats are 1-1 on the season with a 20-17 loss to Idaho on Sept. 1 and a 27-24 win over Division II Bryant last Saturday.

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