WT Football falls in opener to #13 Azusa Pacific
The Buff's rally fell short after a fumble scoop-and-score by No. 13 Azusa Pacific with one minute remaining sealed the win for the Cougars in the 2017 opener for both teams Saturday evening at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.
Azusa Pacific scored on its first two possessions with a field goal and a touchdown on its first two drives, but the young Buffs settled down and held APU to just 40 yards in the second quarter after allowing 127 in the first. After just 52 yards in the first quarter, the Buffs tallied 73 yards in the second quarter with most on the ground as WT 76 yards on the ground for the half and 49 through the air.
APU had 125 yards through the air as quarterback Andrew Elffers went eight of 12 passing and backup running back Gavin McDaniel had 41 yards and a score on the ground. 2016 starter and All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference performer Kurt Scoby missed the game Saturday.
WT played much more physical in the second half and sophomore Kevon Thomas took an interception to the house for 36-yards and the first touchdown of the season for the Buffs midway through the third, trailing 10-7.
Ellfers moved the Cougars right back down the field and found leading receiver Weston Carr for a 27-yard score on the ensuing drive. Carr had nine catches for 161 yards and a score to lead all receivers. Ellfers went 15 of 22 for 236 yards a score and the pick-six.
Schragg hit two field goals in the fourth to pull WT within 17-13 and began its final drive with 2:42 left. WT leading rusher, junior Warren Witherspoon, had the ball stripped by ASU leading tackler Aaron Berry and Adrian Shocks picked up the ball for the 46-yard return and 24-13 score.
Despite the loss, the Buffs had 223 yards rushing on 49 carries as Witherspoon had a career-high 138 yards on the ground on 24 carries. He had just 14 yards on the ground at halftime.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Houghtaling went nine of 21 for 94 yards in his debut as a starter. He had seven rushes for 26 yards, but was sacked three times for 26 yards.
The Buffs continue at home next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium against #8 ranked Colorado State-Pueblo.
WT head coach Hunter Hughes will be facing off against his old team as he was the defensive coordinator for the Thunder Wolves for the past ten years.