Azusa Pacific's Playoff Run Ends With Loss At Sioux Falls
Weston Carr led Azusa Pacific offensively with 68 yards and two touchdowns on two catches.
Weston Carr led Azusa Pacific offensively with 68 yards and two touchdowns on two catches.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Playing in its first ever Division II football playoff game, Azusa Pacific’s potent defense was pitted against one of the top offenses in the nation. In the end, offense ruled the day.

Sioux Falls rolled for 489 yards of total offense behind the 164 rushing yards and three touchdowns of Max Mickey as the Panthers rolled to a 34-21 win over the Cougars Saturday (Nov. 19) in the opening NCAA Division II Super Region 3 playoff game at Bob Young Field.

Azusa Pacific, the No. 7 seed in the region, was limited to just 178 yards of total offense after averaging 396.2 yards through the regular season. The Cougars picked up just nine first downs and wnet 3 for 13 on third down conversion opportunities.

Of the 178 yards of total offense, 132 came in the air. Andrew Elffers, the GNAC Offensive Player of the Year, completed 6 of 20 passes for 112 yards and the Cougars’ three touchdowns. Chad Jeffries completed 2 of 9 for 20 yards. Weston Carr, the GNAC Freshman of the Year, caught two passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns while Ethan Zeidler caught two passes for 29 yards and a touchdown.

All four of Sioux Falls’ touchdowns came on the ground. Mickey led the Panthers by rushing 22 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Fulks carried 20 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Luke Papilion complete 10 of 21 passes for 127 yards.

Sioux Falls (12-0), the No. 2 seed in Super Region 3 and ranked No. 4 in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll, will host No. 3 seed Harding next Saturday. Harding was a 48-31 winner over No. 6 seed Central Missouri. Azusa Pacific ends its season at 9-3 overall.

After neither team scored in the first half, Sioux Falls charged to life with three second quarter touchdowns. Mickey opened scoring on a nine-yard scoring with 14:18 left in the half and Justin Fulks made it a 14-0 game with his three-yard scoring scamper with 4:57 left. After forcing a quick three-and-out for the Cougars, Mickey gave the Panthers a commanding 12-0 lead with another four-yard scoring run with 1:17 left in the period.

Carr finally put Azusa Pacific on the board with 29 seconds left in the half, catching a 15-yard scoring pass from Elffers. It was needed points for the Cougars, who punted six times in the opening 30 minutes.

The Panthers added a pair of field goals in the third quarter with Brett Garner connecting on kicks of 26 yards and 25 yards. Carr brought the Cougars to within 27-14 with his second touchdown of the game, a 53-yard recpetion as time expired in the stanza. The two teams traded touchdowns in the fourth, with Zeidler scoring on a 19-yard pass from Elffers with 9:10 to go.

Hunter Malberg led Azusa Pacific defensively with 11 tackles, including eight solo tackles and a tackle for loss. Taliuaki Suliafu added 10 tackles, inclusing seven solo tackles. Michael Mehling led Sioux Falls defensively with eight tackles, including seven solo tackles and two tackles for loss.