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Watson's Record Night Nets GNAC Honors

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Photo by Holly Magnuson
Terrell Watson's record-setting performance was witnessed in person on Homecoming night by the Cougars' previous top-three career touchdown leaders (from left: John van den Raadt, Ben Buys, and Christian Okoye).

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October 15, 2013
Jared Pine & Joe Reinsch

AZUSA, Calif. -- After a record-setting performance to Azusa Pacific's thrilling come-from-behind Homecoming win Saturday over Simon Fraser, junior running back Terrell Watson was named the GNAC Offensive Player of the Week, while junior free safety Tyler Thornton earned GNAC co-Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Watson, who rushed 28 times for 302 yards and five touchdowns to shatter the Cougars' single-game rushing record held by Christian Okoye and Marcus Lampkin, also climbed the final three positions on the program's career touchdowns chart and ascended from fifth to first on the career scoring list. He rushed for 232 of his 302 yards, and four of his five TDs, in the fourth quarter alone, as he led the Cougars back from a 23-3 halftime deficit. Watson had three rushes of at least 60 yards, including TD runs of 70 and 68 yards, along with a 61-yard carry that set up an eight-yard TD one play later.

After entering the night with 34 career TDs (33 rushing) and 202 points, Watson's first score of the night pushed him into third in career TDs ahead of Okoye and third in scoring over Okoye and Ben Hansen. His next TD, the first of four fourth-quarter scores, put him ahead of John van den Raadt in both TDs and points, and his 68-yarder that put the Cougars in front for good broke the career records for TDs and points scored that were held by Ben Buys. For good measure, he went 61 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive to break Okoye's single-game rushing yardage mark before claiming the program's career mark for rushing TDs with an eight-yard score.

Watson’s night had a slow start with just 45 rushing yards on his first 18 carries, but after he corralled a one-handed reception for six yards, his night began to change. His final 10 carries, he averaged over 25 yards per carry, starting with a 25-yard rush on the very next play.

In addition to the career records he set for career touchdowns, scoring, and rushing touchdowns, Watson set new standards for rushing yards in a game, half, and quarter, while tying the program-record for rushing touchdowns in a game. On the season, Watson has 938 yards rushing through six games, putting him 742 yards off of Okoye's single-season rushing record of 1,680. His 12 rushing TDs puts him nine touchdowns away from Okoye's season record of 21, set in 1986.

Thornton, meanwhile, helped spearhead a defense that kept an explosive Simon Fraser offense from scoring on nine consecutive possessions spanning nearly 30 minutes of action from the second through fourth quarters. Thornton tallied 12 tackles, including eight solo stops, and he registered two pass breakups. His first deflection came on Simon Fraser’s opening drive of the second half, leading to a three-and-out for the Clan, and his other breakup came on a fourth-and-13 that ended Simon Fraser’s final drive and clinched the win for Azusa Pacific.

Sophomore kicker Jamie Cacciatore, last week's GNAC Special Teams Player of the Week after hitting four field goals in a 34-32 win over Western Oregon, received honorable mention for his role in Saturday's win over Simon Fraser. He knocked in another three field goals, including a 45-yarder that tied the game at 30 with six minutes to play. Cacciatore also made five-of-five PATs to register 14 points for the second straight week.

Watch head coach Victor Santa Cruz discuss Watson's record-breaking performance during his weekly press conference.