By Tim Peterson
(Glendora) – Azusa Pacific jumped out to a 23-3 lead but then had to hold on in the fourth quarter for a 32-24 win over Simon Fraser Saturday night at Citrus College.
Simon Fraser scored and then recovered an onside kick with 1:06 left in the quarter and moved the ball down to the 19 yard line before the Cougar defense held.
Chad Jeffries scored on a six-yard quarterback keeper to put Azusa Pacific up 32-17 with 5:11 left. The game seemed to be out of reach but Simon Fraser rallied and had a shot at the end.
A bad snap on a punt attempt led to a shanked kick that set up Simon Fraser at the Cougar five yard line. Simon immediately cashed in when Ryan Stafford hit Jamal Kett on a five-yard pass to cut the lead to 32-24.
Simon Fraser then recovered an onside kick and was in business again at its own 45. But after a couple first downs the Cougar D held with six seconds left and ran out the clock.
“We knew they would come out battling in the second half,” said APU HC Victor Santa Cruz. “They’re a proud group of guys and we knew they would fight. I’m glad we came out with the win.”
The Cougars moved the ball well in the first half. They scored on their opening drive and Jeffries capped it off with an eight yard pass to Tanner Henry.
APU held the ball for all but 1:10 of the opening quarter chewing up 160 yards on two scoring drives. Jaime Cacciatore booted a 37 yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
Simon Fraser’s Tiernan Docherty kicked a 39 yarder for their first points but the Cougars responded with back to back touchdowns to close out the half.
First Watson scored from four yards out and then after the APU defense held Jeffries hit Henry again on another eight yard TD strike with 23 seconds left for a 23-3 halftime bulge.
On the scoring drive, Watson busted off a 29-yard run which was his longest single rush of the season.
Azusa Pacific looked to be in control but it was all Simon Fraser in the third quarter. Cole Tudor caught a five-yard touchdown pass out of the backfield from Stafford at the 9:58 mark and with 3:03 left Andrew Pauls caught a Stafford eight-yard bullet in the end zone to cut the lead to 23-17 after three.
Simon Fraser, punting from its own end zone, took a safety with 10:03 left to make it 25-17. Then Jeffries scored five minutes later to seemingly ice it before Simon Fraser made one final push.
Azusa Pacific rushed for 286 yards with Watson leading the way with 187 on 30 carries and a touchdown. Jeffries had 96 yards and a score on 12 carries.
Jeffries completed 14 of 23 for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
Jeffries played at Glendora High School and then went to San Diego State before returning home and landing at APU.
“I love it here. It feels good to be home,” Jeffries said.
The Cougars had over 400 yards on offense overall.
“I think the fact that we were able to get something going on the pass set up the run. It was good to see us get our passing game going as well,” Santa Cruz said.
Stafford was 20-39 for 153 yards and a score for Simon Fraser.
Azusa Pacific improved to 2-1 with the victory and will face Dixie State in Utah next Saturday night. Simon Fraser fell to 0-3.
SF 0 3 14 7 24
AP 7 16 0 9 32