DATE: Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 -- 7 p.m.
Chapman Stadium -- Orange, Calif.
THIS WEEK: After back-to-back home games, Azusa Pacific takes to the road for 5 of its next 6 games, starting Saturday (Sept. 25) with its first visit to Chapman since 2004, taking on the Panthers in a 7 p.m. game in Ernie Chapman Stadium in the city of Orange.
REUNION TOUR ENDS THIS WEEK: Azusa Pacific's 3-week reunion with old rivals ends this week with the Cougars’ visit to Chapman. The Panthers, along with La Verne and Whittier, were longtime regulars on the Cougar schedule but they were on a lengthy hiatus with Azusa Pacific. However, last week Whittier played the Cougars for the first time in 8 year, and the week before La Verne returned to the Cougar slate for the first time since 2003. Now Chapman returns with its first meeting with Azusa Pacific since 2004.
SERIES NOTES: Azusa Pacific leads the all-time series with Chapman, 6-5, having won the past 3 meetings in a row to take its first-ever series lead following the 30-3 verdict in the 2004 meeting, the last time the 2 schools met.
The 2 schools have split 6 previous meetings in Orange.
Initially, Chapman dominated the series which began in 1994. The Panthers won the first 4 meetings, including the first 2 by a combined score of 104-27. It was the 1998 NAIA champion Cougars who became the first Azusa Pacific team to beat Chapman, downing the Panthers, 26-21, in Azusa. That victory ushered in an era in which the Cougars took 6 of 7games from Chapman, eventually causing the series to go dormant until this year.
Azusa Pacific played a club team from Chapman in 1980 and 1981, winning both games rather handily. Those games are not recognized in the series history.
vs. NCAA DIVISION III: Since 1994, the year Chapman brought back intercollegiate football on its campus, Azusa Pacific is 55-18-1 vs. NCAA Division III teams. The Cougars have won 4 straight over DII teams and taken 5 of the past6 and 22 of the past 29 meetings vs. DIII teams.
NAIA INDEPENDT PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Azusa Pacific junior quarterback John van den Raadt has been named this week’s NAIA Independent Offensive Player of the Week for his play in Saturday’s 46-21 victory over Whittier. In that game, van den Raadt had a hand in 384 of the Cougars’ 477 yards of total offense (81-percent). He accounted for 5 of the Cougars’ 7 TDs. He completed 16-of-23 passes (.696) for 249 yards and 3 TDs, and rushed for 135 yards on 11 carries (12.3 avg.) while scoring 2 more TDs. He fired TD tosses of 20, 6 and 43 yards and ran for scores of 51 and 7 yards. He engineered a Cougar offense that scored on 7 of its first 8 drives to assume a 39-7 lead less than 5 minutes into the second half following his 7-yard score.
NATIONAL RANKING: For the second straight week Azusa Pacific appears in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the Cougars’ first back-to-back appearances since the last 2 polls of 2007.
Azusa Pacific is ranked No. 17 this week, the highest ranking for the Cougars since the 2006 team opened the campaign at No. 11 in the NAIA preseason poll.
Chapman is not ranked in any NCAA Division III poll.
GROUND HOGS: Though Whittier held Azusa Pacific to a season-low 228 rushing yards last Saturday, the Cougars, nonetheless, are still averaging a hefty 279.3 rushing yards a game, currently third-best in the NAIA this season. They rushed for 325 yards in the season-opening victory at San Diego, the most by an Azusa Pacific team since 1996 when the Cougars tallied 327 yards on 37 carries in a 40-22 victory over Cal Lutheran.
In addition, Azusa Pacific’s 7.4 yards per carry is third best among all NAIA teams.
The 1986 Christian Okoye-led Cougars set the school record for rushing yards per game by averaging 284.2 on their way to a 5-2-2 record.
PROTECTION DOGS: The Azusa Pacific offensive line, led by its lone senior John Burrows, has allowed just 2 QB sacks in 3 games and 82 pass plays this season. Dating back to last year, Cougar QBs have been sacked just 3 times in the past 5 games and 140 pass plays.
THE SACKMASTERS: While the Azusa Pacific o-line is doing a fine job protecting the quarterback, the Cougar defensive line is wreaking havoc on opposing QBs. Led by junior Jake Jones, the Cougars have registered 10 sacks, 2 of which led to fumbles recovered by Azusa Pacific. Jones tops the team with 3.5 sacks, equaling the number he had in 11 games last year.
TURNOVER TALLIES: Azusa Pacific is a plus-4 in the turnover margin so far. The Cougars have 9 takeaways through 3 games, and they have turned 7 of them into points. In fact, of the 147 points the Cougars have scored this season, 45 have come off turnovers.
OUT FOR THE YEAR: It was confirmed last week that for the second time in 3 years, back-up QB Aaron Strazicich is out for year with a torn knee ligament suffered in the game against La Verne (Sept. 11). Straz has missed 17 games to injury since 2008.
AMONG THE BEST: Azusa Pacific junior QB John van den Raadt would not classify himself as a social mixer, but he is quite the statistical mixer, putting his name among the elite of this season’s college football players. Not only is van den Raadt the NAIA’s leading rushing QB, but his numbers put him third in the nation among all QB regardless of level of play. Only Heisman Trophy candidate Denard Robinson of Michigan and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez have rushed for more yards as a QB this season than van den Raadt, who has tallied 387 yards on the ground through 3 games. He tops all QBs in the nation with a 13.3 yards-per-carry average.
QUICK HITS: Azusa Pacific’s 545 yards of total offense vs. La Verne (Sept. 11) are the most by a Cougar team since the 2005 Cougars collected 584 in a 47-6 victory over Eastern Oregon … John van den Raadt’s 158 rushing yards vs. San Diego are the most ever by a Cougar QB, breaking the former standard of 139 set by Fritz Wilson in 1989. With his 135 yards against Whittier, van den Raadt is the only Cougar QB to record 3 or more 100-yard rushing games … Prior to the 147 points the Cougars have scored to start this season, Azusa Pacific's best 3-game scoring output was 142 the 2004 team scored in successive games against Crown (58-6), Valley City State (68-6) and Northwestern Oklahoma (16-0) … Eleven different Cougars have been employed to register Azusa Pacific’s 45 receptions this year … Nine different Cougars have had a hand in the team’s 10 quarterback sacks.