Despite the lead in the third quarter, the Storm couldn’t clinch the win, resulting in a 42-23 victory for the Azusa Pacific University Cougars on Saturday.
Dixie State University had 180 total passing yards and 150 rushing, while APU did most of its work on the ground as it ran for a total of 308 yards. Senior running back Terrell Watson led APU with 187 total yards.
DSU junior quarterback Ben Longshore took the place of starting quarterback this week for the Storm. Longshore accounted for two touchdowns and 75 yards.
APU started the game strong with a quick touchdown in the first quarter.
Later in the first quarter, Dixie played double duty as it had Longshore and sophomore Hayden Gavett switching in and out at quarterback.
Longshore threw a 13-yard pass to senior wide receiver Dalton Groskreutz for a touchdown to tie the game with five minutes left in the first quarter. This would be the first touchdown in two weeks for the Storm.
“We played the best we have in three weeks,” said running back Hayden Clark, a sophomore business major from Mesa, Arizona. “Slowing down the pace on offense helped us eliminate missed assignments and drive down the field.”
Following Dixie’s scoring drive, Azusa didn’t stay down for long. Seven plays and 77 yards later, freshman quarterback Chad Jeffries rushed for a seven-yard touchdown, bringing the Cougars up 14-7.
Dixie moved up the field the next drive, gaining a few yards here and there. The Storm then called a timeout on a fourth and six to regroup. The Storm returned from the timeout with another 21-yard Longshore-to-Groskreutz touchdown, tying the score yet again, 14-14.
But Azusa rushed for consecutive first downs, quickly landing another touchdown for the Cougars.
On Azusa’s next drive, Dixie’s sophomore defensive back Jake Witham had his second interception of the season on Azusa’s first and 10. Witham ran it back for 19 yards.
With the momentum high, Longshore followed Witham’s big play by completing consecutive passes to junior wide receiver Nate Stephens for a total of 15 yards downfield.
Dixie then switched Gavett back in for Dixie on the first and ten on Azusa’s 31.
Without skipping a beat, Gavett then rushed six yards for another Storm touchdown. But the field goal was blocked, bringing the score to 21-20 into the half.
Dixie’s tactical advantage of two quarterbacks was reflected as APU’s defense couldn’t get a read on the Storm’s offense in the first half.
“We were just trying to give the [APU] defense a different look out there, as well as revamp our offense,” said linebacker Robert Metz, a junior business major from Tuscon, Arizona. “It worked pretty well. It was a huge improvement from last week.”
Coming back from the half, the Storm rolled back in with a 42-yard field goal by freshman kicker Alex Giordani, eliminating the one-point deficit for Dixie. Dixie, for the first time in the game, was ahead of APU 23-21.
Dixie never found another chance to score as the Cougars took advantage in the fourth quarter, scoring two more touchdowns. APU ended the night defeating the Storm 42-23.
Clark said the defense struggled stopping the run overall, but did a good job at taking away the big play.
The Storm take on Simon Fraser University Saturday at 6 p.m. at Hansen Stadium.