GNACSports.com
Top Two Football Teams Looking For Even More Separation
Western Oregon's Bo Highburger warned GNAC Defensive Player of the Week honors after finishing with 11 tackles, four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles against Azusa Pacific.
Western Oregon's Bo Highburger warned GNAC Defensive Player of the Week honors after finishing with 11 tackles, four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles against Azusa Pacific.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

We may only be at the quarter-turn of the GNAC schedule, but it is clear that Azusa Pacific and Central Washington are putting a gap between themselves and the other three teams in the conference.

Central Washington, the defending GNAC champions, entertained the home crowd on Saturday with a 49-0 shutout of Humboldt State. The Wildcats’ stout defense limited the Lumberjacks to 285 yards of total offense while rolling up 346 yards on the ground themselves.

Over half of those yards belonged to senior running back Cedric Cooper, who earned GNAC Offensive Player of the Week honors by racking up 178 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Cooper leads the GNAC with 142.7 all-purpose yards per game.

Azusa Pacific, meanwhile, had to come from behind against Western Oregon, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to beat the Wolves in Monmouth, 28-17. After falling behind, WOU saw its last chance to score stunted when Edward Ware picked up the Cougars’ sixth interception of the season.

Simon Fraser traveled to Rapid City, S.D., where six straight South Dakota Mines’ touchdowns over the first three quarters was too much to make up in a 52-28 defeat. Three of the Clan’s touchdowns came in the fourth quarter as SFU finished with 384 passing yards. Rysen John had two of those touchdowns as he finished with 86 yards on eight catches.

This week it is Azusa Pacific making the road trip and a tough one to Florence, Ala., to face North Alabama. The former Division II power is in its first year of reclassification to Division I-FCS and already has wins over Southern Utah and Alabama A&M to its credit.

It will be a bittersweet start to the home schedule for Humboldt State with the Lumberjacks hosting Western Oregon as the Lumberjacks are now two games into their final season. Central Washington will travel north to Burnaby, B.C., to take on Simon Fraser.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSIVE
Cedric Cooper, Central Washington
RB • 5-11 • Senior • Seattle, Wash.

Cooper led the Central Washington offense as he rushed 11 times for 178 yards to lead the Wildcats to the 49-0 shutout of Humboldt State. The tally also included a 60-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Cooper also caught one pass for 12 yards to finish with 190 all-purpose yards.

Also Nominated: Weston Carr (Azusa Pacific), Rysen John (Simon Fraser), Omari Land (Western Oregon).

DEFENSIVE
Bo Highburger, Western Oregon
LB • 6-0 • Senior • Veneta, Ore.

Highburger led the WOU defense with 11 tackles, including four for loss, a half-sack and a pair of forced fumbles in the Wolves 28-17 loss to Azusa Pacific. One of those forced fumbles led to a WOU score. The Western Oregon defense held Azusa Pacific to 374 yards of total offense, well below the Cougars’ average of 449 yards per game.

Also Nominated: Weston Carr (Azusa Pacific), Tyler Hasty (Central Washington), Isaac Evans (Simon Fraser).

SPECIAL TEAMS
Chaz McKenzie, Central Washington
DB • 5-7 • Sophomore • Federal Way, Wash.

For the second straight week, McKenzie blocked a field goal in the Wildcats’ 49-0 shutout of Humboldt State. The blocked kick was returned 79 yards for a touchdown by Tyler Hasty. McKenzie also added six tackles in the victory.

Also Nominated: Jacob Hall (Azusa Pacific), Kees Metselaar (Simon Fraser).

AROUND THE GNAC
AZUSA PACIFIC
LAST WEEK: Sept. 15: Won at Western Oregon, 28-7
THIS WEEK: Sept. 22: at North Alabama, 6 p.m. (CDT)

• Azusa Pacific came back from a 17-14 third-quarter deficit with two Weston Carr receiving touchdowns, beating Western Oregon 28-17 in the Cougars’ first road game of the year.

• Carr had another big day for APU, finishing with 153 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches, with the final two touchdowns winning the game for the Cougars. Carr leads the GNAC and ranked ninth in Division II with 121.3 receiving yards per game. His five touchdowns is second in Division II for receiving touchdowns and 14th in total touchdowns.

• Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Williams, Jr., also had another great afternoon as he completed 21 of 35 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing 12 times for 37 yards and a touchdown. Williams leads the GNAC and ranks 30th in Division II with 738 passing yards while ranking 21st in Division II with 292.7 total offense yards per game. Williams’ average of 246 passing yards per game leads the GNAC.

• Senior defensive back Edward Ware gave the Cougars their sixth interception of the season, stunting a late fourth-quarter Western Oregon drive. Sophomore cornerbacks Josh Olave and Lee Pitts each have two interceptions and enter the week ranked 24th in Division II with 0.67 picks per game. The team’s six interceptions ranks eighth in Division II.

• Senior linebacker Aaron Berry led the APU defense with 11 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery. Berry leads the GNAC and is ranked 27th in Division II with 10.7 tackles per game.  Berry is also fourth in Division II with 2.8 tackles for loss per game and 16th with seven solo tackles per game.

• With the win, Azusa Pacific broke into the AFCA Division II Coaches Top-25 Poll for the first time this season, entering at No. 24.

• Azusa Pacific enters the week leading the GNAC with 424 yards of total offense per game. The Cougars also lead the GNAC and rank 14th in Division II in scoring defense, allowing 12.7 points per game. The APU defense leads Division II with six fumble recoveries and second with 12 turnovers gained.

• Azusa Pacific travels east this weekend to play at North Alabama. The former Division II is in its first year of reclassification to Division I-FCS and has a 34-30 win over Southern Utah to its credit this season.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
LAST WEEK: Sept. 15: Beat Humboldt State, 49-0
THIS WEEK: Sept. 22: at Simon Fraser, 6 p.m.

• Central Washington held Humboldt State scoreless and to 285 yards of total offense in the Lumberjacks’ final trip to Washington, picking up the 49-0 shutout in Yakima.

• With the victory, Central Washington climbed three spots to No. 12 in this week’s AFCA Division II Coaches Poll.

• Senior running back Cedric Cooper was named the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week after he led the Wildcats with 11 rushes for 178 yards, which included a 60-yard touchdown run that capped CWU’s first drive of the second half. Cooper enters the week leading the GNAC with 142.7 all-purpose yards and 101.7 rushing yards per game. His total of 303 rushing yards is 30th in Division II.

• Sophomore defensive back Chaz McKenzie was named the GNAC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second straight week after he blocked a field goal for the second straight game. This one was run back by teammate Tyler Hasty for a touchdown in the third quarter. McKenzie also had six tackles in the victory. He currently leads Division II with his two blocked kicks.

• Senior quarterback Reilly Hennessey completed 9 of 17 passes for 112 yards and three touchdowns as 346 of the Wildcats’ 502 yards of total offense came on the ground. Hennessey yielded late in the game to freshman Christian Moore, who completed 3 of 4 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Hennessey enters the week averaging 183.7 passing yards per game and is third in the GNAC with 216.7 yards of total offense per game.

• Junior defensive back Donte Hamilton led the CWU defense with 12 tackles. Junior linebacker Uli Ma’ae added 10 tackles to go along with two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

• Central Washington enters the week leading the GNAC and ranked 24th in Division II in scoring offense, averaging 37.3 points per game. The Wildcats are second in the GNAC in total offense with 421.3 yards per game. They lead the GNAC and rank 26th in Division II with 221 rushing yards per game.

• Central Washington heads north this Saturday to face Simon Fraser.

HUMBOLDT STATE
LAST WEEK: Sept. 15: Lost at Central Washington, 49-0
THIS WEEK: Sept. 22: Hosts Western Oregon, 6 p.m.
 
• Humboldt State was limited to 285 yards of total offense and only one trip to the red zone in a 49-0 loss at Central Washington in the Lumberjacks’ GNAC opener.

• The Lumberjacks finished with 169 rushing yards with a fairly even distribution. Senior running back Isaiah Hall had 14 carries for 55 yards. Junior quarterback Joey Sweeney carried seven times for 33 yards. Senior running back Tyree Marzetta rushed six times for 30 yards and junior quarterback Sohail Moshini carried seven times for 29 yards.

• Humboldt State played four different quarterbacks in the contest. Sweeney completed 6 of 14 passes for 69 yards while sophomore Andrew Tingstad completed 3 of 7 for 43 yards.

• Like the rushing, Humboldt State’s was spread among seven different players. Sophomore Ryan McCombs led the way, catching four passes for 34 yards.

• Sophomore safety Adam Herrera led the HSU defense with 10 tackles, which included six solo tackles. Junior linebacker Isaiah Sires-Wills added nine tackles with a half sack and a half tackle for loss.

• Humboldt State enters the week averaging 291.5 yards of total offense per game and is third in the GNAC with 139.5 rushing yards per game. The Lumberjacks are ninth in Division II in time of possession with 35:13 per game and tied for 22nd with three turnovers lost.

• The Lumberjacks play the first home game of the final season this Saturday, hosting Western Oregon.

SIMON FRASER
LAST WEEK: Sept. 15: Lost at South Dakota Mines, 52-28
THIS WEEK: Sept. 22: vs. Central Washington, 6 p.m.

• Simon Fraser could not overcome six straight touchdowns by South Dakota Mines over the first three quarters as the Hardrockers beat the Clan 52-28 in Rapid City, S.D.

• The Clan finished with 416 yards of total offense in the contest, which included 384 passing yards. Senior quarterback Miles Richardson completed 24 of 44 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown while freshman Justin Sieber completed 10 of 18 for 127 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Richardson ranks third in the GNAC with 184 passing yards per game and fourth with 192.7 yards of total offense per game.

• Junior wide receiver Rysen John led nine Simon Fraser receivers, making eight catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns. John enters the week averaging 46.3 receiving yards per game and is 21st in Division II with three receiving touchdowns. In addition to John, freshman wide receiver Robert Meadors caught six passes for 64 yards while freshman tight end Liviano Canil caught five for 62 yards.

• Junior defensive back Matt Duda led the SFU defense with 11 tackles, including eight solo tackles.

• Simon Fraser is third in the GNAC in both scoring offense (32 points per game) and total offense (365.7 yards per game). The Clan leads the GNAC and is 30th in Division II with 269 passing yards per game.

• The Clan returns to conference play on Saturday, hosting Central Washington.

WESTERN OREGON
LAST WEEK: Sept. 15: Lost to Azusa Pacific, 28-17
THIS WEEK: Sept. 22: at Humboldt State, 6 p.m.
 
• Carrying a 17-14 lead into halftime, Western Oregon was unable to fend off two fourth-quarter touchdowns by Azusa Pacific as the Wolves fell 28-17.

• It was a balanced contest with the Wolves finishing with 337 yards of total offense, with 198 of those coming in the air. Junior quarterback Ty Currie completed 18 of 31 passes for 198 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Currie is second in the GNAC with 199.7 passing yards per game and is second in total offense with 230 yards per game.

• Junior wide receiver Tyjuan Prince was Currie’s top target, making six catches for 60 yards and both of WOU’s touchdowns. Prince enters the week second in the GNAC with 59 receiving yards per game and tied for fourth with 3.67 receptions per contest.

• Senior linebacker Bo Highburger was named the GNAC Defensive Player of the Week after he led the WOU with 11 tackles, including eight solo tackles, four tackles for loss, a half-sack and a pair of forced fumbles. Highburger entered the week fourth in the GNAC with eight tackles per game.

• Freshman running back Omari Land had another 100-plus yard rushing game, carrying 15 times for 130 yards. The freshman is second in the GNAC with 80 rushing yards per game and ranks 20th in Division II with 6.67 yards per carry.

• Western Oregon enters the week averaging 331 yards of total offense per game. The Wolves are 24th in Division II in fewest penalty yards per game (47.33)  and 29th in punt return defense, allowing just two yards per return.

• After three straight home games to open the season, Western Oregon will head to Arcata, Calif., for the final time to face Humboldt State.

Copyright ©2022 Great Northwest Athletic Conference. All Rights Reserved. GNACSports.com