CWU News

Wildcats Oct. 28 home game against Cougars to be aired nationally on ESPN3

When Azusa Pacific and Central Washington meet on the football field for the second time in 2017, they will square off in front of a national audience.
The Oct. 28 between the two games, which will take place in Ellensburg, Wash., will be one of 18 games selected this season for the 2017 NCAA Division II Football Showcase. The game will be streamed to a national audience on the ESPN3 platform and through the ESPN app.

"This is a great opportunity for both football teams and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, not to mention Central Washington University and the community of Ellensburg," said Central Washington athletic director Dennis Francois. "It is not routine for programs at our level to garner a national audience, so we are thankful and honored that the NCAA and EPSN chose to broadcast a NCAA Division II Football Showcase game from our campus."

Now in the third year of a partnership between NCAA Division II and ESPN3, this will be the fourth time that a GNAC football team has been highlighted as part of the Division II Football Showcase. Humboldt State opened the 2016 season with a football showcase game at Carson-Newman while the Lumberjacks and Western Oregon squared off on the football showcase on Oct. 18. 2016.

"We are honored to be a host for the Division II Football Showcase this season," said Central Washington head coach Ian Shoemaker. "If last year was any indication for the upcoming season, this contest will hold a lot of power in deciding the conference title and hopefully postseason appearances."

The game will feature the two top teams in the GNAC standings from 2016. Azusa Pacific finished the conference schedule undefeated at 8-0 and finished the season at 9-3. The Cougars advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs for the first time in program history. Central Washington finished the GNAC season at 6-2, with its losses coming to Azusa Pacific, and 7-3 overall.

The Wildcats gave the Cougars a run for their money in Ellensburg on Sept. 17, with APU scoring a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns for a 27-17 win. Azusa Pacific left nothing to chance in the second meeting in Glendora, Calif., on Oct. 29, scoring the first 37 points of the game en route to a 44-7 victory that allowed the Cougars to clinch the 2016 GNAC championship.

"Our guys are going to be fired up to play in front of football fans across the country," Shoemaker said. "It doesn't take a lot to get our players motivated to represent CWU on the field, but this adds a lot of fuel to the fire."

The game marks the second time Central Washington has been on the Division II Football Showcase and the first time since playing in the inaugaral games in the series against CSU Pueblo in 2015. Azusa Pacific was last featured on national television in 2014, when the Cougars opened the season with a 26-23, double-overtime thriller over defending national champion Grand Valley State that aired on the CBS Sports Network.

"The collaboration with ESPN provides a continued opportunity to showcase Division II's balanced student-athlete experience," said Terri Steeb Gronau, vice president of Division II. "The student-athletes who will be featured in these games have made incredible achievements on and off the field, and we're excited to share their abilities with a broad national audience on ESPN3."

ABOUT ESPN3: ESPN3 is ESPN's live multiscreen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of exclusive sports events annually. It is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices through the ESPN app. The network is currently available nationwide at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. It is also available at no cost to U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.