Defense Tough, Offense Solid as PLU Wins 27-0
PUYALLUP - Pacific Lutheran used a stingy defense and a solid performance from a young offense to defeat Hamline, 27-0, in the football season opener for both teams played on a warm Saturday afternoon at Sparks Stadium.
The Lutes shut out an opponent for the first time since October 27, 2007, when Lewis & Clark was a 39-0 victim. Perhaps the highlight of the game for the defense was a late goal-line stand by second and third team players, who kept the Pipers out of the end zone despite a first-and-goal situation from the 2-yard line.
On the other side of the ball, the PLU offense played with poise despite returning only three offensive starters from last season's 8-1 team. Senior quarterback Zack Halverson, making his first collegiate start, did not turn the ball over in guiding his offense to 289 yards of total offense. Halverson, who threw an incompletion on his only previous collegiate pass, was 15-for-26 for 163 yards with two touchdowns.
The defense got the ball right back for the offense when it stopped Hamline on a surprising fourth-and-five play from the Hamline 35-yard line. Adam Schwander sacked Connor Sathre for a 10-yard loss. After a five-yard Hamline penalty, Brandon James carried 20 yards for a touchdown, and his two-point conversion run made it 14-0 in PLU's favor with 9:18 left in the first period.
Pacific Lutheran added a touchdown just before the half, Halverson hitting Lucas Sontra with a 3-yard pass to cap a nine-play, 60-yard drive.
The Lutes, using the clock by mostly keeping the ball on the ground, capped the scoring with second half field goals measuring 37 and 22 yards by Nick Kaylor. While those field goals may not seem remarkable, it marked the first time since Nov. 9, 1996, that Pacific Lutheran had successfully kicked two field goals in one game. That day, Chris Maciejewski kicked 33- and 42-yard field goals in a 28-27 overtime loss to Willamette.
After that, it was up to the PLU defensive reserves to maintain the shutout, which they did in the waning seconds of the contest.
A total of 29 different PLU defensive players were credited with a tackle, led by linebacker Jordan Patterson with six, including two for losses totaling six yards. Linebacker Adam Schwander had five tackles, including two for losses of 12 yards, and he also recovered a fumble. Jordan Davison had a tackle for loss and an interception for the Lutes. The Pacific Lutheran defense had two takeaways.
James led the PLU ground game with 77 yards on 16 carries, while Christianson and Alex McDiarmid both had three catches to lead PLU in that category.
Blake Cook had 47 yards on 13 carries for the Pipers, who netted 97 yards on 46 carries in the game. A pair of quarterbacks completed 5-of-18 passes for 47 yards as the visitors from St. Paul, Minn., managed just 144 net yards on 64 plays.
Hamline's Josh Bain led all defensive players with 10 tackles, including one for loss, while Marc McDoanld had seven tackles.
Pacific Lutheran returns to action next Saturday when it travels to Thousand Oaks, Calif., to take on defending Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion Cal Lutheran, which today was a 24-14 loser at Linfield.
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