By Joe Torosian
(Glendora)–The Humboldt State LumberJacks traveled 669 miles to get to Citrus Stadium and weren’t about to go home with anything less than the 30-19 victory they earned over the Azusa Pacific Cougars on Saturday night.
Keyed by Ja’Quan Gardner’s 168 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries, the Jacks picked up their first win of the season and snapped the Cougars 9-game Great Northwest Conference winning streak as well as APU’s 8-game home winning streak.
Playing for the second consecutive week without Kurt Scoby, the Cougars struggled to consistently run the ball. Andrew Elffers (21-35-311 yards, 2Tds) led the ground attack with 79 yards but Humboldt State rushed for 242 yards to a mere 94 for the home team.
This opened the passing game for the Jacks’ Robert Webber (19-26-214 yards, TD, Int) and he took advantage early. With 11:25 to play in the first, Webber went 23-yards to Chase Krivashei on a crossing pattern and the visitors took a 7-0 lead.
With Elffers being the Cougars running attack he was under constant duress all night. Still, he was able to move his team. His fourth completion to Weston Carr on the Cougars opening drive netted a 6-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point went wide right.
Humboldt remained in the lead, 7-6 with 5:43 remaining in the first.
On the first play of the second quarter, Elffers went 38-yard pass to Darrell Adams Jr. to set APU up first and goal at the Humboldt five.
After a delay of game, incomplete pass and a 6-yard rush by Elffers, the senior quarterback scored on a 4-yard run to give APU 13-7 lead.
Humboldt responded. With 5:08 left in the first half. Webber completed a 17-yard pass to Krivashei for a first and goal at the Cougars one. From there Gardner cashed in standing. Humboldt kicker Jose Morales’ extra point was blocked by Kendall Rew and the game was tied 13-13 at halftime.
In the third, the Jacks rushing attack began to wear down the APU defense. Gardner kept finding light and teammate Jabar Byrd rushed for 68 yards of his own.
A botched punt in the third quarter gave Humboldt State the ball at the APU 32. Webber went 22-yards to tight end, Shane Torre. Then on first and goal from the ten, Gardner went in untouched and the Jacks led 20-13.
Elffers pushed his team downfield again and drew his team to within one on an 11-yard scoring pass to Gaige Allen. The extra-point, however, clanked off the left goalpost and Humboldt remained ahead 20-19.
The Jacks continued to move the ball both through the air and on the ground. After an unsportsmanlike penalty killed an advance to the APU two, Humboldt settled for 24-yard field goal from Morales.
Down 23-19, Effers went 47-yards to Gavin McDaniel. From the Jacks 32, Elffers escaped a sack and scrambled for 18-yards to Humboldt 14 with 9:57 to play. Three plays later, facing fourth and six at the Jacks 10, the Cougars attempted a 27-yard field goal. Kicker Jacob Hall pushed the boot to the right.
Humboldt stuck in the dagger on its next drive. After a holding penalty on first down put the ball back on the eleven. Webber went 34-yards over the top to John Todd for a first down at the 45.
The running attack continued to do its thing and Webber kept spotting passes to his receivers. The 89-yard march was capped with Gardner’s third touchdown run from 3-yards out with 1:59 to play to ice the game.