APU suffered yet another loss on Saturday when they faced Central Washington University. The final score was 41-17, and with this loss, the Cougars fell to a record of 0-4. Central Washington’s win boosted their overall record to 3-1 and their conference record to 3-0.
The problem for the Cougars continues to be turnovers. The APU quarterbacks combined for two interceptions and starting quarterback Tyler Tuiasosopo fumbled the ball away twice. Each of their turnovers were on drives during which the Cougars brought the ball into the Wildcats’ zone.
Another main problem was that even though the Cougars stayed close all game, they could never turn the momentum around. They were trailing the whole game, and the lead proved to be insurmountable.
APU has been going through a learning process, to say the least. The team consists of a lot of young guys and, sometimes, these speed bumps are necessary for teams to grow as football players. According to Cougar head coach Victor Santa Cruz, playing on the road against the teams they played was expected to be no pushover.
“Being on the road is tough, and when you start off against UC Davis and Humboldt State, it’s very tough,” Santa Cruz said. “We’re playing a lot of younger guys, and they’re growing up quickly. What they’re going to find is that if you want to win this league, you have to win on the road. My hat’s off to Central Washington, which is a big, physical team with the type of depth that we’re going to build here.”
The majority of Central Washington’s yardage came on the ground. They had 320 total yards rushing along with five of their six touchdowns coming from the rushing threat. Sixty-five of the 77 plays they ran from scrimmage were rushing plays.
Santa Cruz saw Central Washington’s running game as a problem early on, and made sure it was addressed at halftime.
“We had allowed too much rushing going into halftime,” Santa Cruz said. “Even though their running backs are very good, we challenged the defense to make adjustments and they came out and responded to keep us in the game.”
The Cougars’ adjustments after the half resulted in their best quarter in the game, allowing the Wildcats to score no more than the Cougars did. Unfortunately, after the Cougars’ best quarter of the game came the worst quarter of the game. The Wildcats outscored the Cougars 14-3 and the Cougars turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the quarter.
Despite their fourth straight loss, APU had some positives to take from the game. One of them was the performance from running back Terrell Watson. He ran the ball 11 times for 112 and a touchdown. This was his second 100-yard game of the season.
“He’s the kind of back who does well in this league, and we’re looking forward to having him run behind our offensive line when it gets healthier,” Santa Cruz said. “Terrell does an amazing job of working hard and being a tough runner, and he’s really developing into a leader on this team.”
Some of APU’s other top performers came from the defensive end. Junior LB Sean Barber recorded 12 tackles on the day and senior FS Jake Mittel recorded 10 tackles.
“Our interior (defensive) guys did well today, and you can see that we have guys who can play,” Santa Cruz said. “I like my team, I’m proud of them, and nobody in that locker room is backing down. We’re going through this together, and we’re going to be all right. The thing I like is that they’re humble and hungry, and they’re looking forward to getting back to work on Monday.”