Big Division I Matchups Yield To Start Of League Play
Quarterback Robert Webber led Humboldt State to their 52-45 win at Carson-Newman with 380 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Quarterback Robert Webber led Humboldt State to their 52-45 win at Carson-Newman with 380 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

If week one of the GNAC football season proved anything, it proved that it will be a battle to win the conference title.

Conference teams went 3-2 in the opening week, which included a trio of games against teams from Division I-FCS. Western Oregon put Division II on notice on Saturday with their 38-30 victory at Sacramento State. The Wolves set the pace early and never let off the gas as Paul Revis scored the game’s first two touchdowns.

The Hornets, however, did mount a fourth quarter comeback and had a chance to tie the game before Danny Hankins intercepted Nate Ketteringham in the endzone with 19 seconds left to ice the win.

While not getting the notch in the win column, Central Washington gave nationally ranked Division I-FCS Portland State all it could handle in both teams’ opener. The Wildcats led 26-21 going into the fourth quarter before the Vikings scored three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes to escape with the win. Jesse Zalk caught nine passes for 181 yards while quarterback Justin Lane completed 19 passes for 321 yards and three scores.

While not playing a Division I opponent, Humboldt State showed they did not lose much from last year in a 52-45 win at Carson-Newman on Thursday. The two teams combined for 1,198 yards of total offense, led by a 370-yard passing performance by Robert Webber.

Azusa Pacific also picked up a Thursday night win over Division II competition, rolling after a slow start to take a 28-10 win from West Texas A&M. The ground game made the difference for the Cougars, led by 118 yards and two touchdowns by Kurt Scoby on 17 carries.

Now the focus turns to GNAC play as the league’s double round-robin format begins. And the matchups are already must-watch affairs. Central Washington and Western Oregon open the day in Monmouth as the two teams that fared best against Division I square off. The other GNAC game features Azusa Pacific at Humboldt State in a matchup of the two teams who have won the last three GNAC titles. Simon Fraser continues its non-conference schedule at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Robert Webber, Humboldt State
QB • 5-9 • 180 • Junior • Corona, Calif.

Webber completed 24 of 33 passes for 380 yards and three touchdowns to lead Humboldt State to a 52-45 season-opening road win at Carson-Newman on Thursday. It was Webber’s second-best career performance as he threw his touchdown passes to three different receivers and hit eight different targets in all.

Jesse Zalk, Central Washington
WR • 5-8 • 164 • Senior • Battle Ground, Wash.

In a hard-fought 43-26 loss to No. 17 (Division I-FCS) Portland State, Zalk finished with 271 all-purpose yards. He went off for a
career-high 181 receiving yards, the fourth best individual performance in school history, and caught three touchdown passes, including one 63-yard reception. Zalk also returned five kicks for 90 yards.

Also Nominated: Kurt Scoby (Azusa Pacific), Malik Braxton (Western Oregon).

Jackson Huerta, Central Washington
DB • 5-10 • 194 • Senior • Covington, Wash.

Huerta finished with 15 tackles, including 14 solo tackles, and had a forced fumble (which resulted in an eventual touchdown) in the Wildcats 43-26 loss to Portland State.

Also Nominated: Bo Highburger (Western Oregon), Mykal Walker (Azusa Pacific), Jordan Herdman (Simon Fraser).

Paul Revis, Western Oregon
WR/KR • 5-9 • 165 • Junior • Scappoose, Ore.

Revis returned two punts for 111 yards, including a first quarter punt 74 yards for a touchdown to help lead the Wolves past Division I-FCS Sacramento State, 38-30, and set the GNAC career record for punt return touchdowns (3). The junior scored the first two touchdowns of the game as he also caught a 19-yard scoring pass with 4:41 left in the first quarter. Revis finished with 175 all-purpose yards, including 60 receiving yards on seven catches.

Also Nominated: James Clark (Humboldt State), Jamie Cacciatore (Azusa Pacific).

JEFFERSON CITY, TENN. - Humboldt State came out on top of a shootout between two high-powered offenses, scoring a 52-45 win over Carson-Newman at Burke-Tarr Stadium. After the Eagles scored the first touchdown of the game, the Lumberjacks rattled off 17 unanswered first quarter points, culminating on a 12-yard touchdown run by Ja’Quan Gardner. Carson-Newman came back to take a 28-24 lead late in the first half, but Robert Webber found Marjani Ellison for a 56-yard touchdown pass to give Humboldt a 31-28 halftime lead. The teams were tied at 38-38 after three quarters and the game was tied 45-45 before Gardner scored the game-winning touchdown on a 35-yard run with 44 seconds left. Gardner led Humboldt State with 138 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries and also caught three passes for 86 yards. Webber completed 24 of 33 for 380 yards and three touchdowns while Ellison caight three passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Wimbush led Carson-Newman with 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Noah Suber completed 13 of 24 for 208 yards and a score. Carson-Newman outgained Humboldt State in total offense 672 to 526. Most of Humboldt’s yardage came in the air with 380 passing yards. Josh Hinson and Jeff Shott led the HSU defense with 12 tackles apiece.

GLENDORA, Calif. - Solid defense and a big rushing night by Kurt Scoby led Azusa Pacific to a 28-10 win in their opener over West Texas A&M at Citrus Stadium. The Cougars stunted the Buffs’ first three drives with turnovers, which included a safety and a Mykal Walker interception that led by to a Scoby 33-yard touchdown run. The two teams traded field goals in the second quarter with the Cougars’ Jamie Cacciatore connecting on a 39-yarder with 1:33 left in the half. Azusa Pacific proceeded to ourscore the Buffs 17-7 in the second half to secure the win, including a third quarter 21-yard scoring run by Scoby, a Cacciatore 45-yard field goal and an 11-yard fourth quarter touchdown run by Samuela Fauna. Scoby finished the night with 118 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Quarterback Andrew Elffers completed 10 of 17 passes for 68 yards. West Texas A&M quarterback Ethan Brinkley completed 29 of 46 passes for 233 yards, but was intercepted twice. West Texas A&M outgained Azusa Pacific offensively 273 to 242. Walker and Aaron Berry each had 10 tackles for the Cougars, with Walker adding a tackle for loss and an interception.

POCATELLO, Idaho - Division I-FCS Idaho State limited Simon Fraser to 233 yards of total offense while rolling up 543 yards of its own in a 47-3 win over the Clan at Holt Arena. The Bengals scored the first 33 points of the game, which included a 37-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Gueller to KW Williams to open a game and a 63-yard touchdown reception less from Gueller to Williams than two minutes into the second half. Simon Fraser’s lone points came from kicker Chad Heerspink, who connected on a 22-yard field goal with 5:16 left in the third quarter. Miles Richardson, playing in his first game at quarterback for SPU, connected on 21 of 44 passes for 22 yards and was intercepted twice. Gavin Cobb was Richardson’s top target, catching five passes for 76 yards. The Clan was held to negative rushing yardage on the afternoon. Gueller completed 24 of 36 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns to lead Idaho State while Williams made four receptions for 121 yards and the two touchdowns. The defense was the bright spot for Simon Fraser, forcing and recovering three fumbles. Jordan Herdman opened the season with 20 tackles, including nine solo tackles, two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Central Washington gave Portland State a spirited battle for three quarters before the No. 17 (Division I-FCS) ranked Vikings rolled off three fourth quarter touchdowns to secure a 43-26 win over the Wildcats at Providence Park. Central Washington struck first with Justin Lane finding Jesse Zalk for a 32-yard touchdown pass three minutes into the game. Portland State scored a touchdown on their first series before the Wildcats bolted out to a 19-7 lead on Quincy Carter’s 16-yard run early in the second and Zalk’s 63-yard touchdown reception from Lane with 5:09 left in the half. The Vikings scored two touchdowns late in the period to take a 21-19 halftime lead. Zalk made it a 21-16 CWU lead with his 63-yard touchdown reception early in the third before both defenses locked down for the rest of the period. Portland State took the lead for good when Alex Kuresa found Maximo Espitia for a four-yard tocuhdown pass early in the fourth quarter and the succeeded to keep the Wildcats out of the red zone the rest of the game. Zalk finished with 271 all-purpose yards, catching nine passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns and returned five kicks for 90 yards. Lane completed 19 of 37 passes for 321 yards and the three scores to Zalk. Portland State’s Kuresa completed 16 of 26 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 18 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. Running back Nate Tago carried 24 times for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Portland State held the 508-445 edge in total offense. Defensively, Jackson Huerta led the Wildcats with 15 tackles.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Paul Revis’ two first quarter touchdowns provided all the momentum that Western Oregon needed to score a 38-30 upset of Division I-FCS Sacramento State at Hornet Stadium. Revis opened scoring on a trick play, catching a 19-yard pass from Malik Braxton with 4:41 left in the first quarter. A minute later, Revis returned a punt 74 yards for the touchdown, putting the Wolves up 14-0. The Hornets added a pair of touchdowns and a field goal, but Braxton’s 10-yard touchdown reception from Phillip Fenumiai allowed the Wolves a 21-16 halftime lead. Sacramento State was within two, 24-22, thanks to a 18-yard touchdown pass from Nate Ketteringham to Jaelin Ratliff with 14:03 left in the game, but the Wolves responded with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Nick Duckworth to Wesley Gray with 10:31 left and a Torreahno Sweet 30-yard scoring run with 5:11 left. Sacramento State scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion on their next possession and had a chance to tie the game late before Danny Hankins intercepted Ketteringham in the endzone with 19 seconds left to win it. Revis finished the night with 175 all-purpose yards, making seven catches for 64 yards and a touchdown and returning two punts for 111 yards and a score. Fenumiai completed 8 of 15 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown while Duckworth completed 6 of 9 for 73 yards and a score. Ketteringham completed 34 of 58 for 370 yards and three touchdowns for Sacramento State, but was also intercepted twice. Western Oregon won the game despite being outgained by the Hornets 465 to 341. Bo Highburger led the Western Oregon defense with 14 tackles, including one for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.

• Azusa Pacific leaned on its defense and ground game to pick up their season-opening 28-10 at home over West Texas A&M on Thursday. Of the Cougars’ 242 yards of total offense, 174 yards came on the run game.

Kurt Scoby, the 2015 GNAC Freshman of the Year, accounted for 118 of those rushing yards with two touchdowns. He scampered for a 12-yard scoring run in the first quarter and a 33-yard run to thw house with 11:41 left in the third quarter.

• The Azusa Pacific defense forced three West Texas A&M turnovers as well as a safety that opened scoring. Mykal Walker’s first quarter interception led to Scoby’s first quater touchdown run that put the Cougars ahead 8-0.

• Kicker Jamie Cacciatore made a successful return after a redshirt season, connecting on field goals on 39 and 45 yards while make two of his three extra-point attempts.

• With the victory, Azusa Pacific has now won four straight games against non-GNAC opponents dating back to 2013. The Cougars also beat West Texas A&M in last year’s open by a 27-24 score.

• The win also allowed Azusa Pacific to emerged in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll this week at No. 24. Last week, the Cougars were listed 14th among teams receiving votes, picking up 13 points.

• The Cougars will open GNAC play on Saturday, traveling north to Humboldt State in a game between the teams picked to finish first and second in the GNAC in the preseason poll.

• The Wildcats gave No. 17 (Division I-FCS) Portland State all they could handle, holding a 26-21 lead before the Vikings scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for the 43-26 win at Providence Park.

• Central Washington led most of the first half, not giving up the lead until Cam Sommer’s 1-yard touchdown pass from Alex Kursea with 13 seconds left in the second quarter.

• Wide receiver Jesse Zalk led Central Washington offensively with 271 all-purpose yards. He caught nine passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns, including a 32-yarder that opened scoring and a 63-yard touchdown strike with 5:09 left in the second. Zalk also returned five kicks for 90 yards.

• Quarterback Justin Lane had an effective day, completing 19 of 37 for 321 yards and three touchdowns, with all of his scoring passes going to Zalk.

• Central Washington engaged Portland State in a close game, with the Vikings outgaining the Wildcats on total offense 508 to 445. The Wildcats had 321 yards of passing offense. Central Washington went without a turnover while forcing one for the Vikings.

• Defensively, Jackson Huerta led the Wildcats with 15 tackles and a forced fumble while Kevin Haynes finished with 12 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

• Portland State head coach Bruce Barnum gave Central Washington plenty of credit in a postgame interview with the Portland Tribune. “This is exactly why I didn’t want to play Central Washington. We know they’re good. We’ve been worried about that one all year. That was a quality football team. They did some good things against us.”

• Central Washington will open GNAC play on Saturday in Monmouth against Western Oregon in a game pitting the two teams that fared best in week one against Division I-FCS teams.

• Humboldt State and Carson-Newman combined for 1,198 yards of total offense. The Lumberjacks accounted for 380 of their 526 yards in the air in a 52-45 win over the Eagles on Thursday.

Ja’Quan Gardner, the 2015 GNAC Offensive Player of the Year, led the Lumberjacks with 224 all-purpose yards, including 138 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. He scored the game-winning touchdown on a 35-yard run with 44 seconds to play, but his biggest play was a 43-yard catch in the first quarter.

• Quarterback Robert Webber led the Humboldt passing game by completing 24 of 33 passes for 380 yards and three touchdowns. He completed passes to eight different receivers, including three to Marjani Ellison for 76 yards and touchdown and five to Chase Krivashei for 76 yards and a score.

• Special teams also came through for the Lumberjacks. James Clark took his only punt return 35 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Kicker Cameron Southward made one 30-yard field goal to open scoring and also connected on all seven extra point attempts.

John Hinson finished with 12 tackles for the Lumberjacks and also had 2.5 tackles for loss for 12 yards and a half-sack. Jeff Shott added 12 tackles and Julian Owens finished with 11 tackles.

• After winning the 2015 GNAC title, Humboldt State opened the season ranked No. 13 in the AFCA Division II Preseason Coaches Poll and No. 14 in the Preseason Top-25. The Lumberjacks were also picked by conference coaches to repeat in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll.

• This week, Humboldt State remained at No. 13 in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll and moved up to No. 10 in the Poll.

• Humboldt State opens conference play on Saturday, hosting Azusa Pacific. The two teams have won the last three GNAC titles (Azusa Pacific won in 2013 and 2014) and the Cougars were picked second in the GNAC Preseason Poll. The Lumberjacks will be looking to extend its win streak in GNAC contests to 11 games.

• Simon Fraser was limited to 255 yards of total offense, including -22 yards rushing, in a 47-3 loss to Division I-FCS Idaho State at Holt Arena.

• The Clan managed 255 passing yards in the debut for Miles Richardson, who completed 21 of 44 passes while being intercepted twice. Gavin Cobb was Richardson’s top target, catching five passes for 76 yards including a long of 25 yards.

• Simon Fraser’s only points of the game came on a 22-yard field goal by Chad Heerspink with 5:16 left in the third. It was also Heerspink’s SFU debut. The score came on one of just two trips Simon Fraser made to the red zone.

Jordan Herdman, the two-time defending GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, picked up where he left off with 20 tackles (nine solo), two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Ben Minaker and Jake Oram each had 10 tackles.

• The highlight of the game for the Clan was defense. In addition to Herdman’s solid effort, Simon Fraser managed to force four fumbles by the Bengals, recovering three.

• Simon Fraser is on the road for the second straight week as they travel south this Saturday for a non-conference contest with Texas A&M-Kingsville.

• Western Oregon became the first GNAC football team since 2011 to beat a Division I team, leading from start to finish in a 38-30 win at Sacramento State. The effort earned the Wolves selection as the Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week.

• Receiver/return specialist Paul Revis led the Wolves with 188 all-purpose yards, including 84 receiving yards on .seven catches and 111 yards on two kick returns. He had the first two touchdowns of the game. The first came on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Malik Braxton on a trick play and the second came on a 74-yard punt return.

• The win despite the fact that Sacramento State outgained Western Oregon on offense 465 to 341. The Hornets racked 370 passing yards, but were limited to 95 yards on the ground.

• Western Oregon succeeded with two quarterbacks. Phillip Fenumiai completed 8 of 15 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown while also rushing seven times for 12 yards. Nick Duckworth completed 6 of 9 passes for 73 yards and a score.

• The defensive play of the game belonged to Danny Hankins, whose interception in the end zone with 18 seconds left stunted a Sacramento State rally for the win. Bo Highburger led the Wolves with 14 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery while Tolu Naea finished with 12 tackles.

• Western Oregon’s victory is the first for a GNAC team over a Division I-FCS opponent since Humboldt State beat UC Davis 23-17 in Davis, Calif., on Oct. 8, 2011. The win is Western Oregon’s second over a Division I-FCS opponent since joining the GNAC. The last came in a 16-3 win over Southern Utah on Sept. 29, 2001.

• Sacramento State had won the only previous meeting between the two teams, 31-17, back on Sept. 11, 2010.

• Western Oregon opens GNAC play on Saturday, hosting Central Washington.