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Big Plays Spell Doom

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October 4, 2008
Gary Pine
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ARCATA, Calif. -- Humboldt State University used big-play runs and passes to set up all of its scores as the Lumberjacks snapped a 3-game losing streak by beating Azusa Pacific, 24-17, before a homecoming crowd of 3,100 at the Redwood Bowl Saturday night.

The Lumberjacks parlayed 4 plays of 40-yards or longer into eventual 4 scores, 3 touchdowns and field goal, and built a 21-7 halftime advantage before holding off a Cougar fourth-quarter charge to pick up their first home win over Azusa Pacific since 2003.

Humboldt State amassed 404 yards of total offense, 204 of which came on just 4 plays. Meanwhile, Azusa Pacific fashioned its best offensive outing of the season, collecting 390 yards, but a trio of turnovers bit the Cougars, and none was bigger than a fumble at the Lumberjack 31-yard line with 2:52 left in the game.

Azusa Pacific rallied from a pair of 2-touchdown deficits and put itself in position to tie the game with a late touchdown. However, a hard hit on Cougar WR James Burke forced the ball onto the turf and HSU safety Guy Ricciardulli fell on the pigskin to preserve the Lumberjack victory.

Humboldt State opened the game with 2 quick touchdowns in the first 5 minutes of the game to rattle the Cougars’ confidence. The Lumberjacks scored on the first play from scrimmage, a 69-yard halfback pass from Kevin Miles to Mike Streck-Woodward to put the Lumbjacks up 7-0 just 17 seconds into the game. Moments later they recovered a Monti Sutton fumbled punt return at the Cougar 37-yard line. Following a Jack holding penalty, Proulx hit Matt Smith for a 43-yard pass to put the ball on the threshold of the Cougar end zone, and Joevany Cueva handled the rest of the yardage, plowing 2 yards in for another Jack touchdown and a 14-0 Humboldt State lead with 9:54 left in the first quarter.

The Cougars though settled and on the ensuring drive moved 75 yards on 10 plays, paced by 4 John van den Raadt’s pass completions, including a 17-yarder to Armon De’Launey to set up Chris Brown’s 1-yard bolt into the end zone to cut the Lumberjack lead in half at 14-7 to close out the first quarter.

Following an interception of van den Raadt bomb deep into Lumberjack territory, Humboldt State turned around and drove 88 yards on 8 plays to go up 21-7 on a Cueva 1-yard TD run. His score, however, was set up on the previous play when Proulx and Smith connected again on a 42-yard pass.

The Cougars came right back on the next drive and put the ball at the Lumberjack 10-yard line on first down. However, as was the case last week in the loss at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the Cougars could not punch the ball into the end zone and Corey Lenahan then missed his first field goal of the season, a 24-yarder that went wide left.

The Cougars opened the second half with another masterful drive and again put the ball inside the HSU 10-yard line with a first-and-goal at the Humboldt State 6-yard line. A pair of rushes and a pass could not produce a TD and Lenahan this time converted a 20-yard field goal to make 21-10 at the time.

A 46-yard run by Bobby Thomas set up Kyle Schierholt 37-yard field goal to push the Lumberjack lead to 24-10 with 12:20 left in the game.

Van den Raadt, a true freshman who was forced into action 4 weeks ago because of injures to Azusa Pacific’s 2 other quarterbacks, engineered a 72-yard Cougar drive in which he completed 4 passes, including a 17-yard touchdown strike to All-American Jon Davis to pull the Cougars to within a TD at 24-17 with 6:30 remaining.

Van den Raadt finished the game 21-for-36 passing for 282 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 22 yards on 11 carries. Burke was the Cougars’ leading receiver with 7 receptions for 78 yards, while Davis finished with 5 grabs for 71 yards and a TD, the school-record 28th of his career.

With the loss, Azusa Pacific falls to 1-5, while Humboldt State improves to 2-4.