LA CROSSE, Wis. – Senior tailback Reid Oldenburg rushed for a career-high 206 yards and 2 TDs, and Azusa Pacific committed 4 turnovers as the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse rolled to a 49-24 nonconference victory Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 4,028 in the newly-constructed Roger Harring Stadium.
The Eagles blew open the game with a 21-point second quarter, all part of a 35-3 run that turned a game into a runaway.
Oldenburg single-handedly controlled the game with his running, producing 12 of the 24 Eagle first downs and registering 6 runs of 12 yards-or-longer. He capped a 10-play, 60-yard drive with a 1-yard blast that knotted the game at 7-7 and then highlighted the 3-TD second quarter with a 4-yard TD run that gave the Eagles a 35-14 halftime lead.
The game appeared to be headed toward a shootout. Azusa Pacific scored on just the third play, turning freshman LB Jermey Turner’s first collegiate interception on the opening play from scrimmage into aJustin Jones’ 14-yard end-around touchdown for a quick 7-0 Cougar lead just 55 seconds into the game.
Wisconsin-La Crosse answered with Oldenburg’s first TD and then took a 14-7 lead when QB Nick Anker hit Travis Bordeau on a 21-yard TD strike with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.
The Cougars answered on their ensuring drive with the first of 2 Chris Brown TDs, a 1-yard burst that was set up by a 56-yard John van den Raadt to Matt Davis pass.
Behind the running of Oldenburg and the massive Eagle offensive line, UW-L came right back with an 11-play 67-yard drive to start the second quarter, capped by a Jason Church 1-yard TD run.
The game took a horrific turn for Azusa Pacific when Chad Rusinkovich fumbled the ensuing kickoff. UW-L’s Nick Kaschub picked up the loose ball and scooted 12-yards for an easy score to suddenly put the Eagles up by 2 TDs. The Cougars couldn’t answer the punch to gut, and UW-L tacked on another touchdown just before halftime with Oldenburg, who had 153 rushing yards just in the first half, highlighted a 68-yard drive with a 4-yard TD with 1:42 remaining before halftime.
“Defensively, we weren’t able to stop them and win on first down today,” said head coach Victor Santa Cruz. “We couldn’t stop their long drives and come up with the big play, and that’s what really challenged us today.”
A Ben Hansen 33-yard field goal was the only scoring of the third quarter, and it was the only sustained drive for Azusa Pacific in the frame. The other 2 drives ended in an interception and another fumble.
Pressed into desperation to get back into the game, Azusa Pacific had to take uncharacteristic chances, but the Cougars could not convert a fourth-and-9 at its own 31-yard line with just over 11 minutes left in the game. With the short field, the Eagles needed just 4 plays to post another TD on a 15-yard Anker to Dan Sellers pass to go up 42-17. Later in the quarter, UW-L’s Ben Morrison picked off back-up Cougar QB Aaron Strazicich and returned the interception 78 yards for a TD.
“You can’t win when you turn the ball over,” added Santa Cruz.
Azusa Pacific added a late TD with less than 2 minutes left in the game on a Brown 14-yard scamper.
Azusa Pacific amassed a season-high 377 yards of total offense, and Brown finished with his first 100-yard game of the season, the fifth of his career, with 121 yards on 23 carries. Oldenburg’s 206 rushing yards are the most surrendered by a Cougar defense to a single back in more than 10 years.
With the setback Azusa Pacific falls to 0-3 on the season. Wisconsin-La Crosse improves to 2-0.