COMING UP: Pacific Lutheran returns to Northwest Conference action at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, when it faces the Pacific University Boxers at 2,800-seat Lincoln Park Stadium in Forest Grove, Ore. The Lutes enter Saturday's contest with a 2-2 overall record, including a 1-1 mark in the conference, while the Boxers are 2-3 overall and also 1-1 in the NWC.
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. Pacific University streams video and that can be accessed at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/pacific.portal#.
SERIES HISTORY: The Pacific football program is in its third season following an 18-year period with no team. Despite the near 20-year break, the Lutes and Boxers have met a total of 38 times dating back to the 1939 season. Pacific Lutheran holds a 27-8-3 advantage over the Boxers and is currently on a 15-game winning streak going back to the 1973 season. Pacific's last win in the series was a 9-7 victory in 1972.
LAST YEAR: Pacific Lutheran built a 35-0 lead and withstood a furious fourth quarter Pacific rally to defeat the visiting Boxers, 35-24, on Nov. 5, 2011, at Sparks Stadium. The Lutes dominated the Boxers through the first half in building up a 28-0 lead at the intermission. Quarterback Zack Halverson was 13-for-14 for 263 yards and four touchdowns in the first 30 minutes. His touchdown passes covered 41 yards to senior Alex McDiarmid, 19 and 2 yards to Lucas Sontra, and 69 yards to senior Tyler Bowen. The ground game accounted for 93 first half yards, including 38 on four carries by Zack Baldwin, as the Lutes piled up 356 yards to 89 for the Boxers through the opening 30 minutes. PLU added a touchdown six minutes in the third quarter on another Halverson aerial, this one covering 32 yards to Kyle Warner, to make it 35-0. Pacific finally got on the board at the 5:12 mark of the third period when Moses Villareal-Gomez converted a 28-yard field goal after the Lutes turned the ball over deep in their own territory on a bad punt snap. The final quarter featured three onside kicks, two of which Blake Anthony recovered for Pacific, and a passing frenzy by second string Boxers quarterback P.J. Minaya. Minaya drove the Boxers 65 yards in 10 plays and hit Matt Nyberg with a 3-yard scoring pass to make it 35-10. PLU recovered the first of the Pacific onside kicks, but the Lutes were forced to punt after failing to pick up a first down. After getting the ball at their own 15-yard line, the Boxers went 85 yards in nine plays, scoring on Minaya's 2-yard pass to Bryce Kershner with 2:40 remaining. Minaya scrambled 22 yards on a 3rd-and-13 to highlight the drive. That made the score 35-17, and when the Anthony came up with the ball at the bottom of a scrum on the next onside kick, the Boxers were again in business. This time they drove 55 yards on nine plays for the score when Brian Taylor caught a 7-yard pass from Minaya. With 40 seconds left on the clock and still needing two scores, Pacific again recovered the onside kick. On the first play from scrimmage, Minaya just missed connecting with Jordan Fukumoto, who had gotten behind the PLU secondary, and the game ended six plays later on Minaya's incomplete pass into the end zone. PLU ended the game with 438 yards of offense, including 336 through the air. The Lutes ground game netted 102 yards on 29 carries. After managing slightly more than 12 minutes of possession in the first half, Pacific had the ball for 21:07 of the final 30 minutes. Minaya was 23-for-34 for 223 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Fukumoto had eight receptions for 83 yards and Nelson Kawai added six catches for 89 yards. Of Pacific's 43 net rushing yards, Minaya had 35 of them on five carries. The Boxers finished with 369 yards of offense and 24 first downs to 19 for the Lutes. They also enjoyed nearly seven minutes more than the Lutes in time of possession.
SCOUTING THE BOXERS: Pacific University enters Saturday's fray averaging 29.0 points and 385.4 yards per game while allowing its opponents averages of 31.4 points and 410.6 yards. Included in that defensive number is 311.0 yards passing allowed per game, and Pacific Lutheran averages 299.2 yards passing through its first for games. Pacific ran up 62 points and 526 yards on Puget Sound in a 62-21 thrashing of the Loggers, and the Boxers hope to continue that momentum when they host the Lutes. Quarterback P.J. Minaya, whom many Lutes fans will remember for his outstanding second half performance in last year's PLU win at Sparks Stadium, completed 25-of-30 passes for 276 yards with four touchdowns against Puget Sound. A total of 10 different receivers caught passes in that game, led by Jakob Lawrence with six grabs for 77 yards. As a team, the Boxers picked up 250 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the Loggers, their best performance on the ground since the football program was reinstated in 2010. Pacific has a solid kicking game with Moses Villareal-Gomez 6-for-8 on field goal attempts and 17-for-17 on PATs. Bobby Ladiges leads the Pacific rushing attack with an average of 45.4 yards per game and four touchdowns. Minaya has been outstanding passing the ball this season, going 92-for-136 (66.2 percent) for 1,064 yards with nine TDs and six interceptions. He works behind an outstanding offensive line that has allowed just six total quarterback sacks through the team's first five games. Despite missing one game, Darin Kamealoha leads the Boxers with 16 catches for 261 yards and one score. Caleb Rohrer has 10 receptions for 145 yards, but three of those catches have gone for touchdowns. The defense is led by defensive back Josh Brinkworth with 44 total tackles, followed by linebacker Tim Hastie with 28 tackles and defensive back Bryan Milles with 25. Defensive lineman Landon Aano leads his team with three quarterback sacks. Pacific has 11 total quarterback sacks in its first five contests.
LUTE NOTES: Pacific Lutheran averages 26.5 points and 400.8 yards per game while allowing its opponents averages of 24.0 points and 321.0 yards. The Lutes average 299.2 passing yards and 101.5 rushing yards per contest. It's interesting to note that the Lutes have outscored their opponents 69-38 in the first half but have been outstcored 58-37 in the second half this season. PLU is a +6 in the turnover category, the defense recording 16 takeaways while the offense has turned it over 10 times. The Lutes have nine interceptions in their first four games including four by junior cornerback Jonny Volland, three by senior cornerback Tayler Angevine and one each by sophomore safety Greg Hibbard and senior linebacker Eric Hoium. Senior running back Brandon James lead PLU's ground game with an average of 67.2 yards per game, and he has scored three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Dalton Ritchey is 80-for-137 (58.4 percent) for 1,191 yard with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. He has three primary targets, all sophomores. Wide receiver Kyle Warner averages 20.2 yards on his 23 receptions and he has scored three touchdowns, wide receiver Kellen Westering averages 17.0 yards and he also has 23 catches and three touchdowns, while slotback Daniel Herr has a total of 15 grabs for 132 yards. PLU needs to improve its protection, allowing opponents a total of 16 quarterback sacks this season, and it also has to get better at fourth-down conversions, with a 31 percent success rate (4-for-13) thus far this season. Senior linebacker Jordan Patterson continues to lead the team wtih 28 tackles, followed by Hibbard with 25, junior nose tackle Mychael Tuiasosopo with 24 and junior safety Sean McFadden with 18. A total of seven players average at least four tackles per game. Junior linebacker Ben Kaestner, one of the shortest players on the field at just 5 feet, 8 inches, leads the Lutes with three quarterback sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss among his 15 tackles.
ABOUT THE COACHES: Scott Westering is in his ninth year as head coach at Pacific Lutheran, where he has compiled a 42-34 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. Keith Buckley, with a 3-20 overall record in his third year as Pacific's head football coach, has set the initial building blocks for what should be a long period of growth for the young program. Working with a core of nearly 100 freshmen coming out for the first season of the program, Buckley led a Pacific team that earned a reputation for never quitting on the field, even against the best of opponents. Buckley was named the head coach of the new Pacific football program on July 31, 2009. He arrived in Forest Grove after four seasons as part of the coaching staff at UC Davis, including serving the 2007 and 2008 seasons as assistant head coach.
PLU 31, LEWIS & CLARK 14: Dalton Ritchey threw for three touchdowns and the Pacific Lutheran defense hassled dynamic Lewis & Clark quarterback Keith Welch throughout the game as the Lutes beat the host Pioneers, 31-14, in a Northwest Conference football game played last Saturday at L&C's Griswold Stadium in Portland. While Ritchey was lighting up the air with 273 passing yards and his three touchdowns to as many different receivers, the PLU defense kept the high-scoring Lewis & Clark offense of the scoreboard until late in the third period. By that time the Lutes held a 17-0 lead on the way to their 17th victory over the Pioneers in the last 18 meetings between the teams. Welch, the senior quarterback who has been the key component in Lewis & Clark's resurgence as a football program, was 26-for-45 for 232 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Known for his ability to scramble and create with his feet, Welch was limited to four net yards on 17 carries as Pacific Lutheran sacked him five times. The PLU defense recorded 13 tackles for a total of 42 yards in losses in limiting the Pios to 256 yards of total offense, including just 24 net yards on 32 rushing attempts. Defensive end Doug Sullivan finished with two quarterback sacks and both he and nose tackle Mychael Tuiasosopo had 2 1/2 tackles for loss. Cornerback Tayler Angevine had a par of interceptions and cornerback Jonny Volland added his fourth pick of the season for the Lutes. Pacific Lutheran took a 7-0 lead just 3:50 into the game when Ritchey found Kellen Westering with a 3-yard scoring pass, culminating a four-play, 37-yard drive. Nick Kaylor added a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter as the Lutes took a 10-0 lead into the halftime break. The next four possessions all resulted in long scoring drives, with each team getting a pair of those. The Lutes put together their most sustained scoring drive of the game to open the second half, going 71 yards on 11 plays with Brandon James taking a pitch around the right end for seven yards and the touchdown. Trailing 17-0, Lewis & Clark scored when Welch found Jacob Constantino with a 24-yard scoring toss. PLU answered right back when Kyle Warner hauled in a 69-yard catch-and-run scoring pass from Ritchey. Welch then led his team on an impressive 18-play, 81-yard drive that took 5:39 off of the clock. Evan Stanbro caught a 4-yard pass from Welch that made the score 24-14 with 10:28 remaining. With the clock running down to the final minute, Sullivan recovered a fumble at the Lewis & Clark 7-yard line, and the Lutes scored on the next play when Ritchey passed to Austin Hilliker. PLU finished the game with 436 yards of offense and 21 first downs. Brandon James gained 81 rushing yards on 13 carries to lead the ground game, and Niko Madison added 44 yards on seven carries. Warner had nine catches for 195 yards. A total of five different PLU players - Greg Hibbard, Jordan Patterson, Derrik Larsen, Tuiasosopo, and Angevine - finished with six tackles apiece.
SOMEONE IS PAYING ATTENTION: While it's not a big deal, someone (or more than just one) has been noticing PLU's 2012 season. With its only two losses to teams currently ranked in the top 10, the Lutes have received two votes in both the D3football.com Top 25 and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division III Coaches' Poll.
CAN YOU BRING IT?: The Student Co-Directors of Pacific Lutheran University's Center for Community Engagement and Service, Laticia Gingras and Emily Peterson, are organizing the Second annual "Can You Bring It Food Drive" during the PLU vs. Willamette football game on Saturday, Oct. 20. The goal is to collect as many canned foods for Emergency Food Network before and during the game. Donation boxes will be available in Old Main Market and Concierge Desk in Loren and MaryAnn Anderson University Center, Kelley Cafe in Morken Center, Hauge Administration Building, Tahoma Cafe in Columbia Center, and Ramstad 116, from Oct. 1-20. A staff member from Associated Ministries will be bring a truck to collect the canned foods at the game.
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