CLU Falters in 2nd Half, 21-19 : College football: Azusa Pacific overcomes 12-point deficit behind quarterback Bill Gallis.
Cal Lutheran’s football team lost momentum in the second half en route to a 21-19 loss to Azusa Pacific in a nonconference opener Saturday before 2,896 at Mt. Clef Stadium.
The Kingsmen held a 19-7 lead at halftime, but quarterback Bill Gallis threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter to lead Azusa Pacific’s comeback.
“It was a strange ballgame,” second-year CLU Coach Joe Harper said. “Good things happened to us in the first half and the bad breaks came our way in the second half. And both the good and the bad were bizarre.”
Azusa Pacific Coach Jim Milhon concurred. “A lot of weird things happened that shouldn’t have happened and the loose ball played an important factor,” he said.
Azusa Pacific got the game’s first break late in the first quarter but could not take advantage.
Kingsmen punter Pete Pistone had trouble controlling a high snap from center and tried to run the ball out of his end zone. He was stopped at the CLU seven-yard line and the Cougars took possession.
Two plays later, Gallis dropped a soft pass into the arms of wide receiver Dan Mitchell, but CLU linebacker Chris Sestito jarred the ball loose at the CLU two-yard line and recovered it.
The Kingsmen then gained momentum behind junior transfer quarterback Sheldon Ashkenazie.
Ashkenazie drove the Kingsmen 98 yards in 11 plays. His one-yard dive gave Cal Lutheran a 6-0 lead with 3 minutes 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Cal Lutheran stretched its lead on a freak play.
After defensive back Mike Sylvester intercepted a Gallis pass at the Azusa Pacific 34-yard line, CLU kicker Tom Montague attempted a 32-yard field goal.
His attempt was blocked by Azusa Pacific’s Dusty Bach, but an alert Tom Leogrande of Cal Lutheran scooped up the ball and ran 22 yards, diving into the end zone ahead of two defenders to give CLU a 13-0 lead with 1:10 left in the first quarter.
But the Cal Lutheran defense let down shortly afterward.
Azusa Pacific’s Derick Williams, a diminutive 5-foot-2, 140-pound wide receiver, cut through the middle of the field to grab a Gallis pass and raced 53 yards untouched for the touchdown, cutting the Kingsmen lead to 13-7 with 27 seconds left in the first quarter.
Cal Lutheran took a 19-7 lead early in the second quarter when Ashkenazie lofted a perfect pass to tight end Scott Wheeler for a 38-yard scoring play.
Gallis found his confidence and his passing touch in the third quarter, throwing scoring passes of 10 yards to Mitchell and four yards to split back Mike Salazar.
Sylvester intercepted a pass by Gallis at CLU’s 37-yard line with 1:37 remaining to give the Kingsmen their final chance. But running back Cassidy O’Sullivan was stripped of the ball by Bach at the Azusa Pacific 48-yard line after a 10-yard pass.