Ottawa University of Arizona in Surprise (OUAZ) announced today that it will host the 2018 NCCAA Haydon Building Corporation Victory Bowl at its new campus in Surprise, Ariz. The game is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 30, with kick off at 7:00 p.m.
OUAZ’s Spirit football team was invited to play in the Victory Bowl by NCCAA officials, in recognition of the team’s exceptional performance in its inaugural season of competition. OUAZ finished its first regular football season operating from its brand-new campus in Surprise with a 6-3 record as a member of the Sooner Athletic Conference. The team ended the year ranked No. 2 nationally among all National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools in passing with total yards of 363.1 per game, No. 3 in total offense of 539.2 yards per game, and No. 4 in scoring offense with an average of 52.6 points per game.
A total of just 10 points separated the emerging program from an 8-1 record, considered remarkable for a team competing in its first full season. OUAZ defeated previously unbeaten and nationally ranked cross-town rival, Arizona Christian, in October by a score of 73-28 and took nationally ranked Langston College of Oklahoma to the wire in a losing effort in the last minute by the score of 63-56.
OUAZ features the NAIA leading all-purpose yards producer in the country in Shamar Moreland who has averaged 227.1 yards per game with a total of 2,044 yards on the year. The Spirit also features the No. 2 passer in the country, sophomore Austin McCullough, who passed for 331.5 yards per game with 30 passing touchdowns. The Spirit’s kicking and punting is in excellent hands as well with the leading kicker in the NAIA, John Williams, who averaged 9.2 points per game, and the second leading punter in the nation, Austin Bohn, who averaged 43.8 yards per punt. On defense, the Spirit feature Kenneth Steele, who leads the nation in sacks per game at 1.8 with a total of 16 on the year.
The Spirit will take on highly respected Olivet Nazarene of Bourbonnais, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. This is the fourth time the Tigers have played in the Victory Bowl, winning all three of its prior appearances. They come into the game with a 5-5 record, competing in one of the strongest NAIA conferences in the country, the Mid-States Football Association. That conference currently features two of the top eight nationally ranked schools in the NAIA, and five of the top 25.
OUAZ opened in Surprise in the fall of 2017 and has grown rapidly to 658 students, exceeding all expectations. Students attend classes on its new campus which is being built out on lands adjoining the City of Surprise City Hall and Surprise Recreation Campus. Ottawa University has been operating adult learning sites in the Phoenix area since 1977 and has an additional 1,100 adult and international graduate students studying at its two other sites in the Phoenix area.
Major sponsors for the game include local and national companies Haydon Building Corp of Phoenix, NOVO Development LLC. of Scottsdale, Chick-Fil-A and several others still in development.
“We are so proud of Coach Mike Nesbitt, his fine staff, and our outstanding Spirit football team in achieving this exceptional milestone in just our first year of competition. They put on a great show on the field but have also been emblematic of our desire to field highly competitive sports programs with great kids who truly are champions of character,” said Chancellor Kevin C. Eichner, who is an avid fan. “We are grateful to the NCCAA for this invitation and for all of the support we have received from the City of Surprise and our neighbors. We look forward to a great contest in addition to all of the attention and economic benefit this bowl game will drive for our city and our institution.”
Tickets for the game will be available to the general public on Monday, November 19 at 10 a.m. For more information on tickets, visit OUAZSpirit.com/victorybowl or call 623.233.7631.