Azusa struggled to get the offense going for about an hour against Chapman University Saturday night, but a six-minute stretch at the end of the first half turned a defensive battle into a rout as the Cougars pulled away for a 43-7 win at Citrus Stadium in Glendora.
After marching to a field goal on their opening possession, the Cougars were stymied on offense for a full quarter, gaining just one first down on their next three drives combined. The Panthers, for their part, were going next to nowhere themselves, save one drive that ended in a failed fourth down conversion attempt at the Azusa 23. But with six minutes remaining in the first half, the Cougars got the ball at their own 41 yard line and kicked off a blitzkrieg on the Chapman goal line. On 2nd and 3 at the 48, senior QB John van den Raadt fired a screen pass to WR Matt Davis, who broke a tackle and sprinted down the right sideline for a touchdown. Chapman fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which gave the Cougars a short field to work with, and they capitalized with a second van den Raadt TD pass, this one going 16 yards to Jeremiah Andujo.
Trying to get back in the game just before halftime, the Panthers drove down to the Cougars’ 16 yard line and attempted a 33-yard FG on the final play of the half. But Matt Moody was able to get a hand on the kick attempt, which bounced down to the four yard line, where Azusa LB Spencer Danielson picked it up and ran the length of the field to push the Cougar lead to 23-0 at the intermission.
Chapman would finally get on the board with six minutes left in the third quarter on a 12-yd touchdown catch by Kali’i Kunitomo. But the Cougars responed with a two-play, 62 yard drive capped by a 33 yard Johnell Murphy TD run, his fifth of the season. The Cougars would add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 53 yard strike from van den Raadt to TE Tyson Hetzer, giving van den Raadt his fourth career game with three TD passes. Van den Raadt would finish the game with a season-high 221 passing yards, while the Cougars would rack up 257 rushing yards, led by David Trifeletti’s 99 yards and Murphy’s 81. The Cougars through four games are averaging 50 points and 501 total yards of offense a game. Defensively, the Cougars recorded just one sack and one interception, but limited the Panthers to just 3-15 at converting third downs and, of course, that blocked field goal.
With the win, the Cougars improved their record to 3-1 and moved up one more spot to 13th in the NAIA poll. This week sees them finally get to play a fellow NAIA school as Webber International University from Babson Park, FL makes the long trip west to take on the Cougars. The game will–as all other home games–take place at 6pm Saturday at Citrus Stadium.