The Azusa Pacific University football team can take another step toward the NAIA Division II playoffs for the first time ever when the Cougars host UC Santa Barbara at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Azusa Pacific needs to win its final two games, including a clash against Cal Lutheran on Nov. 15, and finish in the top eight in the NAIA rankings to earn a playoff berth.
The Cougars, ranked No. 11, improved their record to 5-0-2 with a 28-17 victory at San Francisco State last week. It was their third straight win. Santa Barbara, competing in its first year of NCAA football since 1972, is 3-4.
Azusa Pacific will rely on 6-3, 250-pound running back Christian Okoye for most of its offense. Okoye, top rusher in the school's history, has run for 1,214 yards (173.4 a game) and 16 touchdowns.
The senior needs 142 yards to break his single-season school rushing record of 1,355 set last year. If Okoye runs as well as he did against San Francisco State, he will break the record Saturday.
Okoye rushed for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns in 34 carries to register his third 200-yard rushing effort this season. "Though he was tired late in the game, he kept asking for the ball, and when he got it he didn't fumble but surrounded it with his huge arms, put his head down and knocked people over," Coach Jim Milhon said. "We leaned on him Saturday like never before and he delivered us through."
Milhon expects a tougher game from Santa Barbara. "Mike Warren has got a great defense up there and they're going to key on Christian," he said. "The Gauchos could easily give our offense its stiffest test to date."
Azusa Pacific's defense against San Francisco was headed by nose guard Rod Price (6-1, 270), who made six unassisted tackles, recovered one fumble and had a quarterback sack.
Cal Poly Pomona will be one of the favorites when the NCAA Division II West Regional Men's 10-K Cross Country Championships are held at 8:45 a.m. Saturday at UC Riverside.
The Broncos, ranked No. 4 in Division II, are expected to battle Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for the title. San Luis Obispo defeated Pomona by 20 points in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. championship meet last week.
Pomona is expected to be led by juniors Eddie Toro and David Loud, who turned in strong performances in the five-mile CCAA meet. Toro finished second in 25:27.8 and Loud, a former Charter Oak High standout, was seventh in 25:50.2
"Toro and Loud were our runners of the meet," Coach Jim Sackett said. "They are getting where they want to be. They are confident that they will do well this week and at the national championship meet."
Other top runners for Pomona are Paul Gianetto, Angel Roman and Shawn Sinclair. Another fine runner, Abel Mota, is recovering from pneumonia and will miss the meet.
"We're not going to take a chance on running Mota in the regionals," Sackett said. "We don't have the depth without him because nobody picked up the slack. But we are a good 10-K team."
After finishing fourth in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. Women's Cross Country Championships last week, Cal Poly Pomona has reason to expect an improved performance at the NCAA Division II West Regional 5-K at 10 a.m. Saturday at UC Riverside.
That's because the Broncos competed without their No. 1 and No. 4 runners last week. Considering that their top runner is Division II All-American Joann Howard, that could make a big difference.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which easily won the CCAA meet, is the heavy favorite, but Pomona figures to compete for second place with Cal State Northridge, Cal State Los Angeles, UC Davis and Seattle Pacific.
"It will be very tough competition this week," Pomona Coach John Turek said. "It is so close, it is hard to say who will place behind Cal Poly SLO. We didn't run real sharp at the conference meet and didn't get what we were looking for."
In addition to Howard, the Broncos are counting on Sherrie Roach, Trisha Molina and Karen Farley. Roach finished ninth in the conference meet in 18:08.
The top runner in the meet may be junior Sylvia Mosqueda of Cal State L.A. who won the CCAA meet in 16:54. The Golden Eagles also received a strong performance from Gretchen Lohr who finished seventh in 17:53.
The Golden Eagles finished third in the CCAA meet, their highest finish ever.
Cal State Los Angeles has been defeated by three men's soccer teams that are ranked in the NCAA Division I top 10.
But the Golden Eagles may face their toughest game of the season against defending national champion UCLA at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Cal State. UCLA, which won the Metropolitan Life Pacific Classic last week in Westwood, is ranked No. 4 with an 11-0-5 record.
The Bruins, who defeated fifth-ranked Duke, 3-0, in the tournament final, will carry a 36-match unbeaten streak into the game.
Cal State, 4-9-3 overall, tied New Mexico for third in the tournament. The Golden Eagles suffered a 1-0 overtime loss to Duke in the first round and tied New Mexico, 2-2.
"We played very well," Coach Berhane Andeberhan said. "We played an excellent game against Duke, a good game against an excellent, well-established team."
The Cal Poly Pomona women's soccer team will conclude its best season ever when the Broncos host Cal State Dominguez Hills at noon Saturday.
The Broncos improved their record to 10-5-3 with a 1-0 victory over Westmont last week.
Pomona, coached by Brian Wiesner, has been led by senior sweeper Sue Spencer and junior goaltender Mia Gail. Spencer, who scored the only goal against Westmont, has a team-high 7 goals and 2 assists and Gail has 10 shutouts and a 1.00 goals-against average.
The Broncos will face a strong opponent in Dominguez Hills, which has a 13-1-2 record.