Led by a stellar defensive effort, Azusa Pacific had plenty of chances to put away the Pointers and pick up its second straight win, yet the Cougar offense stalled at critical moments. The Cougars moved 4 of their 11 drives inside the UWSP the 30-yard line, including 2 inside the ten, but all they could muster were a trio of Corey Lenahan field goals on successive possessions to assume a 9-3 lead with 5 minutes left in the game.
No possession was more aggravating for the Cougars then their third drive of the game when they motored 72 yards on 12 plays to the Pointer 8-yard line. On a third down bootleg true-freshman QB John van den Raadt, who had been sharp all drive, appeared to have a clear path into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown yet inexplicably he chose instead to lob a pass into the end zone to Jon Davis even after he had crossed the line of scrimmage. Pointer SS Tyler Florczak instead intercepted the ill-advised pass to keep the game scoreless.
Then late in the third quarter, Azusa Pacific could not convert a third-and-1 play at the Pointer 20-yard line and had to settle for a Lenahan 36-yard field goal to knot the game at 3-3.
On their next possession, the Cougars went 78 yards down field, relaying on Chris Brown who collected 42 of his team-high 104 rushing yards on the drive, to set up a second-and-goal at the Pointer 2-yard line. Yet an incompletion, a false start, and a Brown run for no gain, forced Lenahan back on to the field to convert a 24-yard field and give the Cougars’ a 6-3 lead.
Azusa Pacific caught UWSP asleep and successfully recovered a pooch kickoff that gave the Cougars the ball at the Pointer 23-yard line. However, the Pointer defense overwhelmed the Cougar offensive line and Brown was dropped twice in the backfield before another incomplete pass forced Azusa Pacific into another field goal situation. Again Lenahan, who came into the game having attempted just 5 field goals in his career, converted from 44 yards to put Azusa Pacific up 9-3.
The Pointers used a 23-yard Jack Marx kickoff return to start their next drive at the Cougar 49-yard line. Azusa Pacific appeared to be on the verge of clinching the game after stopping UWSP on a third-and-3 play at the Cougar 40. Stevens Point, though, went for broke on fourth down, and in a sign of greater things to come, Beckwith hit Kalsow on a 2-yard pass to keep the eventual game-winning drive alive. After a 7-yard completion to Jake Swank, Beckwith went back to Kalsow for 17 yards and followed on the next play with the 14-yard game-winning toss to Kalsow.
Azusa Pacific was unable to convert third-and-3 and fourth-and-5 plays on the next drive to end any hope of rallying for the victory.
“Our defense played very well but on offense we just couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone,” said a disappointed Azusa Pacific head coach Victor Santa Cruz. “We certainly had our chances.”
Azusa Pacific amassed 262 yards of total offense, 104 on Brown’s rushing and 131 on van den Raadt’s 14-for-28 passing. However, he was intercepted 4 times, including 3 in the first half. After UW-Stevens Point took a 3-0 lead on a Ryan Graboski 20-yard field goal with 52 seconds left in the first half, van den Raadt was picked off on the first play of the ensuing drive, and only poor clock management kept UWSP from tacking on at least 3 more points as time ran out with UWSP at the Cougar 1-yard line.
Led by LB Jay York, CB Andre Hunter and LB Michael Moreno all who tallied team-highs of 8 tackles, the Cougar defense held Stevens Point to 279 yards and has now yielded just 2 TDs in the past 8 quarters of play.
With the win, UW-Stevens Points improves to 3-0 on the season while Azusa Pacific falls to 1-4. The Cougars continue a 3-game road trip with a visit to Humboldt State University for a 6 p.m. game next Saturday (Oct. 4).