AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific moved up one spot to No. 8 in the final NAIA Coaches Top 25 Poll, earning the Cougars a first-round home game in its second consecutive NAIA playoffs appearance.
"I'm just so proud of our guys," Cougar head coach Victor Santa Cruz said, upon receiving the official notice that his team will remain home for the first round of the playoffs. "Playing at home in the postseason to represent an outstanding university, a supportive administration, and our community, is an exciting opportunity for our players and coaches. As excited as I am now, I can't wait to see how our community and our fans create an incredible playoff atmosphere on Saturday."
Azusa Pacific, which boasts the NAIA's top scoring offense (48.4 points/game) and ranks No. 2 in total offense (503.4) and rushing offense (330.3 ypg), will host No. 10-ranked Ottawa (Kan.) at the on-campus Cougar Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, with game time to be announced on Monday. All seven of the Cougars' 2011 home games were played on the artificial turf at nearby Citrus Stadium, but that facility was not available for Azusa Pacific to use, thus bringing the NAIA Playoffs back to the natural grass of Cougar Stadium, which has previously hosted eight football postseason contests.
Ottawa, which is 9-2 overall and unbeaten in a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title campaign, ranks among the NAIA leaders in both scoring offense and defense. At 34.5 points per game, the Braves rank 16th in scoring defense, and their 16.7 points allowed per game ranks 14th in the nation. Ottawa opened the year with consecutive non-conference losses to
Top-25 opponents before rolling through the nine-game KCAC schedule, winning all nine by at least 13 points.
Footage of Azusa Pacific's weekly football press conference, featuring head coach Victor Santa Cruz as well as senior QB John van den Raadt, along with Coach Santa Cruz's bye week press conference from a week ago, is available below. Full playoff game notes will be posted to the Azusa Pacific football webpage as soon as they are available.