Oct. 18, 2011
The USD Toreros (4-0 PFL; 6-1) will look to continue their winning ways when they travel to Buies Creek, North Carolina this Saturday to take on the Campbell Fighting Camels (2-2 PFL; 3-3). Game time is 10:00 a.m. (PT) at Barker-Lane Stadium. The Toreros have won four straight PFL games, and six straight dating back to last season. Campbell has won two straight for the first time since restarting the program back in 2008.
SERIES RECORD: This is just the second meeting between these two programs. The Toreros won the first ever meeting back in 2008 (Sept. 20th) by the score of 43-7. Running back Phil Morelli set the tone with 151 yards rushing on 21 carries. The Torero defense held Campbell to 8 yards rushing on 28 attempts, and 191 yards of total offense.
WEBCAST: Saturday's contest will be webcast live with Jack Cronin calling the action. Pre-game begins at 9:40 a.m. The audio will be streamed at www.usdtoreros.com. Click on the listen link from the USD website main page.
PFL STANDINGS/SCHEDULE FOR OCT. 22ND: San Diego (4-0 PFL; 6-1), Jacksonville (4-0; 5-2), Drake (3-1; 5-2), Butler (2-2; 4-3), Campbell (2-2; 3-3), Dayton (2-2; 4-3), Marist (1-3; 2-5), Morehead State (1-3; 2-5), Davidson (0-3; 2-4), Valparaiso (0-3; 0-6). This week's other PFL games (times listed Eastern): Marist at Butler (1pm), Davidson at Jacksonville (1pm), Dayton at Morehead State (1pm), Valparaiso at Drake (2pm).
HOEKSTRA NAMED PFL SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore Sam Hoekstra (Carlsbad, CA) was selected this week's Pioneer Football League Special Teams Player of the Week for his outstanding play in the team's 31-24 victory over Drake University. Hoekstra's 85-yard punt return for a touchdown with 7:62 left in the game provided the game-winning score in San Diego's key PFL victory. His score was the second of two consecutive touchdowns after Drake tied the game, 17-17, in the fourth quarter. Hoekstra had four punt returns for 96 yards and also added eight receptions for 86 yards to finish the day with 182 all-purpose yards. The 85-yard return ranks second all-time for USD.
PFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: USD has had four players this season earn player of the week honors from the Pioneer Football League... Quarterback Mason Mills (Coronado, CA) has been offensive player of the week twice (Sept. 4; Sept. 25) for his performances in road wins over Azusa Pacific and Morehead State. Junior DB Ryan Costa (Gilroy, CA) was tabbed a defensive player of the week (Sept. 11) following USD's home win over Western New Mexico. Last week Blake Oliaro earned his first career honor for defesne after he collected 7 solo tackles, 4 sacks and an interception in USD's 55-14 road win over Valparaiso. Sophomore Sam Hoekstra (see above) becomes USD's fourth player.
FOUR GAME WIN STREAK: San Diego's current 4-game winning streak is its longest since the 2008 campaign when the Toreros opened the season with six straight wins... Some streak highlights include the Toreros averaging 483.0 yards of offense (188.2 rush; 294.8 pass) while outscoring its opponents 176-82 (44.0 ppg to 20.5 ppg)... Ken James leads the way averaging 244.0 all-purpose yards per game and 36 points... Mike Levine has converted three field goals and 22-of-23 PATs for 31 points, while Sam Hoekstra has chipped in with 30 points... Mason Mills has tossed 13 TDs over the past four games... The defense has been paced by Zach Dunaj and Loka Kanongataa, each with 24 stops.
TORERO TIDBITS: Including the end of last season, the Toreros have now won 10 of their last 12 games, including a string of 8 wins in its last 9 PFL contests... On the season the Toreros have scored 30 or more points in all six of their victories... Among FCS programs the Toreros rank 8th in the country with their 35.86 points per game average... The Toreros also rank in the top-10 in sacks (tie-5th at 3.57 per game) and punt returns (9th at 15.0 yards per return)... USD also has three individuals that rank in the top-10 nationally - Ken James (2nd in all-purpose running, 203.14 yards per game), Blake Oliaro (tie-3rd in sacks, 1.29 per game) and Sam Hoekstra (5th in punt returns, 15.47 yards per return)... Through four road games this season the Toreros are averaging 37.0 ppg and 471.2 yards of offense while giving up 32.2 ppg and 415.2 yards of offense to its opponents... USD's two starting defensive ends make for quite the bookends on the Torero defensive line... Blake Oliaro leads the team with 9 sacks (-54 yards) and 12.5 tackles for loss (-78 yards), while senior Mario Kurn isn't far behind (7.5 sacks for -53 yards; 10 tackles for loss for -66 yards)... Now with 29.5 career sacks, Kurn needs 6 more sacks to overtake USD career leader Eric Bakhtiari (35; 2005-07)... Torero leaders for total tackles includes junior LB Zach Dunaj with 47 stops (31 solo) and senior SS Loka Kanongataa with 43 tackles (26 solo)... Now with 19 touchdown passes through seven games, QB Mason Mills has surpassed his 2010 total of 18... His 37 career touchdown passes in 18 games ranks 5th all-time in the Torero record book... Sophomore RB Ken James leads in rushing (706 yards, 6 TDs) and kickoff returns (27.1 yards per return average, 1 TD).
SCOUTING THE CAMPBELL FIGHTING CAMELS: Campbell University (2-2 PFL; 3-3) is riding a two-game winning streak for the first time since reinstating football for the 2008 campaign... This past weekend they dealt Marist a 35-21 defeat, and two weeks earned a home win over Butler, 38-23... In their win at Marist this past weekend Campbell was led by RS-Senior DB Brandon Chandler who was tabbed the PFL Defensive Player of the Week... He had two interceptions and a touchdown in the victory... His second pick, a 43-yard return for a score, increased Campbell's lead to 21-0 in the first quarter... Among all FCS teams, Campbell ranks 12th in punt returns (14.27), 16th in turnover margin (+1.00), 20th in scoring (33.0), 21st in rushing (199.0), and 32nd in rushing defense (122.83), sacks (2.50) and tackles for loss (7.33)... Individual leaders include QB Braden Smith (100-169 for 978 yards, 9 TDs), RB Carl Smith (422 yards, 3 TDs), WR Preston Dodson (30 catches for 330 yards, 3 TDs), FB Jordan Cramer (6 TDs), DE Jeremiah Robinson (43 tackles, 5 sacks), and MLB Chris Price (35 tackles)... 4th year head coach Dale Steele returns 44 letterwinners and 16 starters from last year's 3-8 club.
SAN DIEGO HOLDS OFF DRAKE 31-24: In a game of unbeaten PFL teams, the host USD Toreros (4-0 PFL; 6-1) held off the visiting Drake Bulldogs (3-1 PFL; 5-2) 31-24 in front of 2,529 fans at Walter J. Zable Field at Torero Stadium. With their fourth straight victory the Toreros stay atop the PFL standings with Jacksonville (4-0 PFL; 5-2). The JU Dolphins dealt Morehead State a 50-14 defeat today. The hard-fought physical contest was tied at 17-all early in the fourth period when Drake's Jacob Schmudlach found the end zone from 2 yards out with 11:14 to go that capped off a 7-play, 50 yard Bulldog drive. Just over two minutes later the Toreros regained the lead as Mason Mills connected with Brandon White for a 3-yard TD pass that culminated a 5-play, 57-yard drive of their own with 9:09 to go. The Torero defense forced Drake to punt away from their own 39-yard after just six plays from scrimmage, and USD sophomore Sam Hoekstra fielded the punt at his own 15-yard line and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown. The 85-yard punt return ties the second best mark in Torero history; just 6 yards shy of the school record (91, Ed Bunsic vs. Mexico Poly, 1957). Hoekstra redeemed himself from a first quarter fumbled punt return attempt that led to the game's first points, a 33-yard Billy Janssen field goal. That brilliant play gave USD a 31-17 edge with 7:42 to go. Drake responded with a solid 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended on a Trey Morse 2-yard TD run that pulled the Bulldogs to within 31-24. The Toreros took over with 3:48 to go and were able to run down the clock to under 40 seconds left before Ernie Collins boomed an excellent 55-yard punt all the way down to the Drake 4-yard line. The Bulldogs began their last drive with just 34 seconds to go, and QB Mike Piatkowski completed his first attempt for 15 yards to Nick Rosa. His second attempt fell incomplete and his third was picked off at midfield by senior strong safety Loka Kanongataa to seal the victory. USD answered Drake's early field goal with back-to-back touchdowns by the Scudellari twins. Nick Scudellari scored on a 2-yard pass from Mills with 1:02 left in the first half, and Sam hauled in a 6-yard pass from Mills at the 10:34 mark of the third period. This was the third straight game for the Scudellari's to each score a touchdown. Mike Levine added a 23-yard field goal with 4:50 to go in the third that gave the Toreros a 17-10 cushion heading into the final period. For the game Mason Mills completed 25-of-37 passes for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns. His main target was Hoekstra who hauled in 8 balls for 86 yards. Hoekstra was followed by John McGough (5-72) in the receiving column. Ken James rambled for 58 yards on 19 carries.
USD PICKED 4TH IN 2011 PFL PRESEASON COACHES POLL: The USD Toreros, under 5th-year head coach Ron Caragher, have been picked to finish 4th in the ten team Pioneer Football League by a vote of PFL head coaches. Jacksonville, which shared the 2010 PFL championship with Dayton, has been tapped as the 2011 preseason favorite in the league's preseason coaches' poll. JU received 8 first place votes and 80 points and was followed by Dayton (1 first place vote; 69 points), Drake (1 first place vote; 61 points), San Diego (59 points), Butler (47 points), Morehead State (38 points), Campbell (33 points), Marist (31 points), Davidson (23 points) and Valpo (9 points).
KURN ON PRESEASON WATCH LISTS/ALL-AMERICA SQUADS: Senior defensive end Mario Kurn (Encinitas, CA), a unanimous All-PFL first team pick, is on numerous 2011 preseason All-America teams and Watch lists... Kurn, who led all FCS players in quarterback sacks (17) in 2010, is on both the Buck Buchanan Award Watch list and the Ted Hendricks Award Watch list... He was sixth in the voting for the Buchanan Award last season while finishing with 66 tackles, 37 solo stops, and 27 tackles for loss... Additionally, he has been named to The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Preseason All-America Team, the College Sporting News Preseason FCS All-America Team, the 2011 FCS Senior Scout Bowl Preseason All-America Football Team, and to Phil Steele's Preseason FCS All-America Second Team. Last year Kurn did the bulk of his work in the opponent's backfield where he posted a PFL-leading 2.45 tackles for loss per game, including a league-leading 1.55 sacks per outing. Through seven games in 2011 season, Kurn now has 29.5 career sacks, and ranks second to all-time Torero leader Eric Bakhtiari (35, 2005-07).
UP NEXT FOR THE TOREROS: The Toreros have a bye next weekend before they play a PFL game at Dayton on November 5th. They'll close out the season with back-to-back home games against Marist (Nov. 12th, 1pm) and Jacksonville (Nov. 19th, 1pm).