Tillman runs for 127 in season opening loss for Poets
GLENDORA, Calif. – Kimble Tillman ran for 127 yards and a touchdown and Alesana Sausau tossed a pair of scoring strikes but it wasn't enough as Azusa Pacific totaled 477 yards of offense in a 46-21 win over the Poets on Saturday night at Citrus Stadium.
Tillman carried the ball just 12 times and averaged 10.6 yards per carry in his first game at running back for the purple and gold. He also led all Whittier receivers with three catches.
Sausau threw for 96 yards on 7-of-17 passing which includes a 35-yard touchdown pass to Cardell Turner and a 31-yard scoring strike to Josh Ollison.
Whittier got down early after Azusa Pacific scored on its first two possessions of the game. A two-point conversion after the Cougars' first score made the count 15-0 with 7:13 left in the first quarter. Whittier answered with a 5-play, 46-yard, scoring drive that was capped by a Tillman 15-yard scamper.
Oreese Hoyes set up the offense with good field position after he returned the kickoff 39 yards to the APU 46. Sausau faced a 3rd and 13 on the third play of the drive but moved the chains with a 20-yard completion to Ollison. Tillman carried the ball on the next two plays and gave the Poets their first touchdown of the season at 4:58 of the first.
After allowing touchdowns on APU's first two possessions the defense faced a 1st and 10 from its own 13. The Poets forced two incomplete passes from John van den Raad and held Johnell Murphy to a rush of no gain to hold the Cougars to a field goal.
Trailing 18-7 the Poets began its ensuing drive at its own 36 and quickly faced a 3rd and 3. Whittier ran a reversed to Ollison and picked up 26 yards to the APU 31 but was whistled for an illegal block. The ball was brought back and the Poets were forced to punt after Sausau couldn't move the sticks on a 3rd and 4. The Cougars capitalized on the penalty and an errant punt by the Poets and scored the only touchdown of the second quarter on a six-yard scoring toss.
Whittier picked up four first downs on its next drive and moved the ball 57 yards in 11 plays but saw its field goal attempt blocked. APU went into the intermission with a 25-7 lead.
The Cougars scored on its first three possessions of the second half to take a 46-14 lead with 3:45 left in the third quarter. APU needed only two plays to find the endzone on its first drive of the half and after a Sausau interception on Whittier's first play from scrimmage, Azusa finished an 8-play drive with a van den Raad touchdown run.
Whittier continued to battle and Sausau came back from his mistake to toss his first touchdown of the year. The play went for 35 yards to Turner on a 2nd and 9.
After APU scored its third touchdown of the quarter, the Poets got a break as they recovered a botched punt by Cory Besch. Sausau tossed his second touchdown of the game on the next play.
Whittier's defense held APU to a fumble and three punts on its final four possessions.