By Tim Peterson
(Glendora) – Andrew Elffers threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns and the defense forced four turnovers as Azusa Pacific routed Central Washington 44-7 Saturday night before a Homecoming crowd at Citrus College. With the victory, the Cougars (8-1) wrapped up the GNAC title.
Azusa Pacific grabbed the lead the lead on its first possession on a 30-yard field goal by Jacob Hall.
C.J Broussard picked off then Central Washington quarterback Justin Lane and returned it to the 12 -yard line. On the first play of the series Elffers hit Weston Carr for a 12-yard touchdown strike for a 10-0 lead.
On the ensuing kick off the Cougars recovered a fumble by Central Washington and were in scoring position again. Aaron Baltazar then took full advantage of the turnover when he blasted into the endzone from a yard out and just like that it was 17-0 Cougs with 2:39 still left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter a 22-yard run by Kurt Scoby set up a 28-yard field attempt by Hall but the kick was no good as the Wildcats held.
Later in the quarter Central Washington went for it on fourth and nine from the APU 29 but Lane’s pass fell incomplete.
After the stop Elffers moved the Cougars down the field and connected with Carr again on a 27-yard touchdown strike for a 24-0 advantage with 4:55 left in the first half.
Broussard got his second pick of the night, this one off of freshman JoJo Hillel who replaced Lane, to give Azusa Pacific a first down at the Wildcat 37 with 1:07 left in the half. After a first down pass to Ethan Zeidler put the Cougars at the Central Washington 13 yard line, Elffers found Zeidler again for a touchdown with 41 seconds left in the half. It was Elffers third TD pass of the night as the Cougs took the 31-0 lead.
The Wildcats worked their way into position to attempt a 38-yard field goal but the boot was partially blocked and the Cougars took the 31 point lead into the break.
At the half Elffers had thrown for 212 yards on 13 0f 21 completions with the three scores. Carr was the go to guy with five receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Central Washington had three turnovers and just 127 total yards.
The Cougars picked up right where they left off in the second half as Elffers and Carr hooked up again. After forcing Central Washington to punt on the first series of the second half they put together a drive that culminated with a 23-yard pass from Elffers to Carr. For Carr it was his third score of the night and it was Elffers’ fourth TD pass.
Hillel tossed his second interception of the night, and the Cougars third pick overall, as APU linebacker Sam Fleming stepped in front of a pass late in the third quarter. Azusa couldn’t take advantage of the turnover however and was forced to punt.
The Wildcats finally got on the board late in the fourth quarter when Hillel hit Jesse Zalk for 16 yards to make it 37-7.
Chad Jeffries, in place of Elffers, hit Weston Carr for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 1:o5 left for the 44-7 Final. It was Carr’s fourth touchdown of the night.
“Our guys were so focused this week and they’re peaking at the right time. They understand that every snap matters,” said Azusa Pacific Head Coach Victor Santa Cruz. “I couldn’t be more proud of a group that just gets after it. I’m very happy. The defense was really good and tonight they showed that. I like the way they mixed up the pressure and the zones. I can’t speak enough about these guys and how fast they played whether it was a base defense or regular defense. They played with their hair on fire.”
Broussard, a senior who led the defensive surge with his two interceptions, was happy with his team’s effort.
“That doesn’t just come with coming out here tonight and showing the effort, that came from weeks prior and the week leading up to this game. We knew it was going to be a battle and knew we had to come out here and just do what we do,” Broussard said. “That was just a product of hard work and great coaching. This is my fourth year here now and I kind of know what’s going on. We’re a just an older group, more mature and we know how to handle the success.”
Carr, Elffers favorite target, finished with 189 yards on nine catches to go with his four touchdowns.
“Passing wise we knew we needed to come out and be aggressive. We knew they were going to be aggressive with their blitzes, and we needed to be perfect on the outside,” Carr said.
Central Washington fell to 5-3 with the loss. Azusa Pacific will host Western Oregon next Saturday at 6:00 p.m.