THIS WEEKEND: Pacific Lutheran (3-0 overall, 1-0 Northwest Conference) hosts Whitworth (3-2, 1-0), in a Northwest Conference game. Saturday's contest also serves as PLU's Homecoming Game.
FOLLOW THE LUTES: You can listen to PLU football action throughout the year in the Tacoma area on KLAY 1180 AM with Steve Thomas and Karl Hoseth calling the action. The broadcasts are also available online on the KLAY website (www.klay1180.com). Additionally, listeners can access the PLU football broadcasts on the PLU athletics website at www.golutes.com, then clicking on Listen Live and following the link.
THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting will be mark the 66th time that Pacific Lutheran has met Whitworth on the gridiron. The Lutes have dominated the Pirates in the series that dates back to a 26-0 PLU victory in 1931, compiling a 46-19 overall record. From 1966 to 2000, PLU won 32 straight games against the Pirates, but Whitworth has turned the tables recently with a stretch of six consecutive wins from 2004-09.
LAST YEAR: Jeff Erlenmeyer stopped Cody Pohren for no gain on fourth down in the second overtime to give Whitworth University a come-from-behind 24-21 win over visiting Pacific Lutheran at the Whitworth Pine Bowl. PLU outgained Whitworth 413-361, but two costly interceptions and a blocked field goal attempt led directly to Pirate touchdowns. PLU came into the game with a highly regarded passing attack, but it was the Lutes' running game that almost carried the day for the visitors. Sean Snead ran six times for 74 yards and a score and Pohren carried seven times for 37 yards and two scores. The pair led a ground game that picked up 132 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Jordan Rasmussen was 25-for-45 for 281 yards. Wide receiver Greg Ford made several acrobatic receptions and finished with six catches for 103 yards. Isaac Moog added six grabs for 61 yards. PLU opened the scoring when Pohren ran in from one yard, and it was Ford who set up the score with a 32-yard catch over the middle to the Pirate one-yard line. The score completed a 92-yard drive that took only eight plays. The Lutes seemed to be driving for a second touchdown lead early in the second quarter when Derek Stottlemyer picked off a pass at the Whitworth 10 and returned it to the 19-yard line. Whitworth methodically drove 81 yards in 17 plays and scored on a one-yard run. PLU answered with a 70-yard drive that took most of the final five minutes. On fourth-and-four at the nine, Whitworth's Kyle Duncan broke up a pass, but was called for interference allowing the Lutes first and goal at the two. Pohren then scored on a two-yard run. PLU quickly made it a two-touchdown lead in the third quarter. Kyle Burbridge returned the opening kick off 33 yards to the 44-yard line. Two plays later Snead broke clear through the middle for a 55-yard touchdown run. Robert Schaefer intercepted Rasmussen at the PLU 25 and returned the ball to the six, and the Pirates scored on the next play to make the score 21-14 with 1:02 to play in the third quarter. PLU had a chance to gain a 10-point lead with just under 10 minutes to play in the game, but Richard Isett's field goal from 27 yards was blocked. The Pirates took over and drove 80 yards for a game-tying score. Scott ran in from six yards to tie the game with 5:50 to play. PLU's field goal attempt with 10 seconds left in the game hit the left upright from 37 yards away, sending the game into overtime. Whitworth won the game in the second overtime, scoring on a 30-yard field goal while PLU's fourth-down rushing attempt for a first down ended in a loss of yardage.
ABOUT THE COACHES: Scott Westering is in his seventh year as head coach at Pacific Lutheran, where he has compiled a 29-28 overall record. Scott joined the PLU coaching staff in 1981 after playing tight end for the Lutes under his father, Frosty Westering. Scott served as the Lutes' offensive coordinator from 1983-2003, helping PLU to two NAIA Division II and one NCAA Division III national championships, as well as four runner-up finishes. He has coached 11 first-team All-Americans, including the 1999 NCAA Division III Player of the Year, Chad Johnson. Scott was a captain and All-American tight end on the 1980 PLU team that won the Lutes' first NAIA national championship. He was inducted into the PLU Hall of Fame in 1998. Whitworth head coach John Tully is 83-65 in 15 season at Whitworth, making him the football coach with the longest tenure and the most wins in the program's history. A three-time Northwest Conference Coach of the Year, Tully has led Whitworth to three NWC titles and two NCAA Division III playoff appearances. Prior to coming to Whitworth in 1995, Tully was 31-21 in five seasons at Eureka College.
LUTES LAST WEEK: If you have followed Pacific Lutheran football in recent years, you would have to call it was the most unlikely and unbelievable of endings. Richard Isett kicked a 49-yard field goal on the game's final play as the Lutes held off the Puget Sound Loggers, 31-28, in the Northwest Conference opener for both teams at Baker Stadium. For the Lutes, it meant a 3-0 start to the season, an early jump in the NWC standings, and their 22nd win in the last 23 games in the series. Pacific Lutheran once played 36 consecutive games from the 1998 season until the 2001 season without attempting a field goal. Last year, PLU attempted five field goals and made two. In the first quarter of this game, Isett missed wide right from 37 yards out. So when Saturday's conference opener came down to the end, Lutes head coach Scott Westering called on Isett, a junior from Juneau, Alaska, who also is one of the team's starting linebackers. Isett nailed the kick, providing the winning points. The back-and-forth game was close throughout, and statistics reflected that as PLU accumulated 412 total yards compared to Puget Sound's 403. The Loggers turned a game-opening interception into a 7-0 lead by driving 40 yards and scoring on Duncan White's 3-yard pass to Adam Kniffin. The Lutes tied the game at 7-7 when Jordan Rasmussen hooked up with wide receiver Isaac Moog on a 33-yard scoring connection in the second quarter, that coming one play after PLU safety Sean McFadden intercepted White's pass. Puget Sound responded with an 11-play, 67-yard drive, culminated by White's 2-yard pass to Kniffin, to make it 14-7 in favor of the hosts. PLU came right back down the field, however, Rasmussen hitting Drew Griffin with a 9-yard scoring aerial with 35 seconds left. Holder Tyler Bowen took a bad snap and ran in the two-point conversion to put the Lutes on top at the half, 15-14. Once again, the Loggers regained the lead at 21-15 when White hooked up with Lucas Diesing on a 43-yard score, only to see the Lutes regain a 22-21 advantage when Alec Simmons broke free on a 49-yard touchdown gallop. PLU put an end to the alternating touchdowns when Rasmussen hooked up with Greg Ford on a 73-yard scoring play to cap a three-play, 93-yard drive. Puget Sound's Damarkus Milner blocked the point-after kick, however, making it 28-21 when the Loggers took the ball at their own 27-yard line with 4:34 left. Moving the ball early with the run and late in the drive with the pass, UPS went 73 yards in 11 plays and scored on White's 9-yard pass to John Duncan with 21 seconds remaining. The extra point tied the game at 28-28, and an overtime battle seemingly loomed. Starting at their own 33-yard line, the Lutes caught a break when the Loggers committed a 15-yard personal foul after a 20-yard pass to Ford, moving the ball on the UPS 32-yard line. After a hail mary pass was batted down in the end zone with one second left, and after Puget Sound tried to ice him with a timeout, Isett kicked one of the most memorable and unbelievable field goals in PLU football history. For the Lutes, Simmons had another strong game with 108 rushing yards on 14 carries, while Rasmussen was 13-for-28 for 226 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Ford caught four passes for 114 yards. Linebackers Isett and Adam Schwander both finished with eight tackles, including a 12-yard quarterback sack by Isett.
D3FOOTBALL.COM PLAY OF THE WEEK: Richard Isett's game-winning 49-yard field goal was not selected as the d3football.com Play of the Week, but it made the list of finalists. If you haven't seen a clip of the kick, click here.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: The last time that Pacific Lutheran won a football game on a game-ending field goal was in 1989 when Eric Cultum connected from 20 yards out with seven seconds left in PLU's 52-50 victory over Southern Oregon. Cultum's kick hit the left upright and ricocheted through for the winning points. (The 1989 win over Southern Oregon wasn't a true "walk-off" winner via a field goal because there were seven seconds remaining, but it comes close enough.) Additionally, Isett's 49-yard field goal is not a school record for distance. That honor is still held by Mike Maiuri, who booted a 52-yard field goal through the wind at Whitworth in 1977.
PIRATES LAST WEEK: Whitworth intercepted five passes and stopped Menlo twice on fourth down in the fourth quarter during a 20-7 win over the Oaks, who had been ranked No. 24 in the latest NAIA national poll. Paul Werhane led the Pirates in tackles and returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Whitworth finished with a 375-225 edge in total yards and also had possession of the ball for nearly 40 minutes. Adam Anderson ran for 173 yards on 35 carries, scoring his 46th career touchdown. Dale Entel finished with seven catches for 60 yards and a score. The quarterback duo of Andrew DeFelice and Taylor Eglet combined to complete 14-of-22 passes for 151 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.
LUTES BY THE NUMBERS: In compiling a 3-0 record thus far, the Lutes have averaged 31.0 points and 428.0 yards of total offense while allowing 23.0 points and 382.7 yards per contest. The Lutes have been relatively balanced with 235.7 yards passing and 192.3 yards rushing per contest. Opponents have compiled 71 first downs, however, to just 57 for the Lutes. Senior defensive back Trevor Fox has four interceptions in three games, a number that puts him second on the Division III interceptions list. Senior wide receiver Greg Ford is 10th in Division III football with an average of 126.7 receiving yards per game, and he is 55th nationally with an average of 6.3 receptions per contest. Senior running back Alec Simmons is ranked 14th nationally, averaging 132.7 rushing yards per game. Defensively, the Lutes have shown a lot of balance with 12 different players recording double figures in total tackles. Junior linebacker Richard Isett leads with 27 total tackles, including three for loss, followed by frosh safety Sean McFadden with 20. Senior defensive lineman Cameron McMillan and senior safety Jordan Davison both have 19 tackles through three games. The PLU defense has 10 takeaways, six of them interceptions, this season.
ABOUT WHITWORTH: The Pirates are off to a 3-2 start this season after finishing the 2009 campaign with a 5-5 record. Senior tailback Adam Anderson, the Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008, is the go-to player for the Pirates. He set a school record with six touchdown runs in Whitworth's 40-29 victory over PLU in 2008, and he also holds the single-season record with 25 TDs set in 2008. Additionally, Anderson holds the Whitworth career record of 46 touchdowns and 278 points. Anderson averages 110 rushing yards per game this season, which is also his career average. Whitworth features a two-headed quarterback combo in Andrew DeFelice and Taylor Eglet. Through the team's first five games, both quarterbacks have thrown for 465 yards, though Eglet is the more accurate (44-for-62) at 71 percent compared to DeFelice (34-for-64) at 53 percent. Of the pair's five total TD passes this season, DeFelice has thrown three, though he has four interceptions compared to Eglet's two. Wide receiver Dale Entel is the top receiver with 19 catches for 241 yards and two scores, followed closely by Anderson with 18 grabs for 161 yards. Wide receiver Connor Haley has 14 catches for 203 yards and one touchdown, the one score setting a school-record at 96 yards in a win over Pomona-Pitzer. Defensively, linebacker Paul Werhane leads the team with 42 total tackles, followed by defensive back Derek Stottlemyer and defensive end Jeff Erlenmeyer with 30 each. While the Pirates have only two quarterback sacks all year, they do have 11 interceptions, including three by defensive back Robert Schaefer. Whitworth has also blocked two kicks this season.
HIGH-PERFORMANCE FORD: Greg Ford, the Lutes' senior wide receiver from Steilacoom, continues his move up PLU's all-time receiving lists. With 19 receptions this season, Ford now has 164 career catches, which puts him fifth on the all-time list. He ranks fifth with 2,973 career receiving yards, with Mike Welk (1987-90) and his 2,998 yards next on the list. With four touchdown catches this season, Ford has 30 in his career, tying him with Chad Barnett (1990-93) for third on the Lutes football list.
NATIONAL POLLS: PLU, off to its best start since opening the 2007 season with four consecutive wins, has received votes in two Division III national football polls. The Lutes picked up 24 total votes in the American Football Coaches Association poll (by contrast, No. 25 St. John's had 101 votes), and they had 33 votes in the d3football.com ranking (No. 25 Cortland State had 46 votes).
PLU PICKED THIRD IN NWC: Pacific Lutheran came out third in the NWC Coaches' Preseason Poll released Aug. 3. "We don't use it as a motivating tool," head coach Scott Westering said. "We're busy focusing on us and that's our approach; focusing on the best that we can be. Our guys love to be together. When you enjoy being together you can take ordinary things and make something out of them."
NEXT GAME: The Lutes travel to Atherton, Calif., where next Saturday they play their final non-conference game of the regular season against the Menlo College Oaks. Kickoff is scheduled for noon. Menlo was a football member of the Northwest Conference from 2006 until this season, when the school's administration decided to switch athletic affiliation from NCAA Division III to NAIA.
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