COMING UP: Following a 41-27 home win over previously unbeaten and nationally ranked Willamette, the Pacific Lutheran Lutes return to Northwest Conference action on Saturday when they play the Puget Sound Loggers at Baker Stadium on the UPS campus. The Lutes enter Saturday's game 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference, good for second place. It's been a long year for the Loggers who are 0-6 overall and 0-3 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#. You can watch a video stream at this address: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/ups.portal#.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: Pacific Lutheran football fans can purchase tickets to the Lutes' Oct. 27 football game against host Puget Sound in advance at the concierge desk in PLU's Anderson University Center. The only tickets available at the concierge desk are $10 adult tickets. Tickets costing $7 for youths, seniors, military personnel with ID, and students with ID, may be purchased at the Baker Stadium gate. PLU fans are encouraged to congregate in the grandstand on the north side of Baker Stadium behind the Pacific Lutheran bench, and PLU fans will be asked to enter the stadium at the southwest gate. The area will be marked. The Puget Sound athletic department advises early arrival at the game because of expected parking and traffic congestion due to Homecoming and Family Weekend events on the UPS campus.
NWC HONORS ANGEVINE, RITCHEY: Tayler Angevine and Dalton Ritchey earned Northwest Conference football honors after playing important roles in Pacific Lutheran's 41-27 victory over previously unbeaten and 19th-ranked Willamette. Angevine (Kent, Wash. / Kentlake HS) received Defensive Student-Athlete of the Week recognition after providing the Lutes with a momentum-changing interception return for a touchdown. Angevine went 80 yards for the score, stopping a Willamette drive and increasing PLU's lead to 27-13 early in the third quarter. Angevine also had three solo tackles, including one for a four-yard loss. Ritchey (Onalaska, Wash. / Onalaska HS) was named Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week after running for three touchdowns and passing for another in leading PLU's offensive attack against the Bearcats. Ritchey scored on runs of 2, 5, and 3 yards and netted 65 yards on 14 carries, and passing the ball was 16-for-28 for 197 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
NATIONAL POLLS: Pacific Lutheran continues its climb in the two major Division III football polls, though it remains in the "others receiving votes" listing in both rankings. The Lutes received 29 votes in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll and 23 votes in the D3football.com Top 25.
SERIES HISTORY: Saturday's matchup will be the 87th meeting between these two rivals. Although Puget Sound holds the overall series edge at 44-37-5, the Lutes have held a strong grip over the Loggers during the past 24 years. Since 1988, PLU is 23-1 against the Loggers. Puget Sound's one win during that stretch came by a 23-13 score in 2005. Since then, the Lutes have rattled off six straight victories.
LAST YEAR: Pacific Lutheran scored a touchdown in each of the final three quarters and kept Puget Sound off the scoreboard until the closing minutes in picking up a 21-7 Northwest Conference football win on Oct. 1, 2011, at Sparks Stadium. After a sloppily played first quarter in which they turned the ball over once on a fumble and twice via interception, the Lutes finally got untracked on offense. Starting late in the quarter and going into the second period, PLU drove 80 yards on 10 plays before quarterback Zack Halverson hit wide receiver Tyler Bowen with a 4-yard scoring pass. The Lutes lost another good scoring chance on the next possession when they fumbled the ball at the UPS 1-yard line following a 23-yard pass play. While the Lutes struggled on offense in the early going, the PLU defense was staunch, not allowing Puget Sound more than four plays in a possession until midway through the second quarter. That nine-play, 70-yard drive ended when the Loggers turned the ball over on downs. The PLU defense set the tone early, shutting down any semblance of a Puget Sound running game and forcing the visitors to put the ball in the air 49 times compared to just 20 rushes during the contest. In fact, starting on a possession with 2:54 left in the third period and going to the end of the game, the Loggers ran 22 plays, all passes, though two of them ended in sacks and thus counted as rushes. Pacific Lutheran made the score 14-0 at the 10:22 mark of the third quarter, taking the second half kickoff and driving 64 yards on seven plays, capped by a 7-yard scoring run around the right side by Brandon James. The sophomore running back gained 83 yards on 14 carries to lead a PLU ground game that compiled 184 nets yards on 43 attempts. The Lutes made it 21-0 with 7:52 remaining in the game on a 1-yard touchdown run by Niko Madison, who added 39 rushing yards on six carries. Puget Sound got its only score with 38 seconds left, culminating an eight-play, 55-yard drive on George Ka'ai's 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Rogers. Despite turning the ball over four times, the Lutes accumulated 395 yards of total offense, including 211 passing yards by Halverson. He threw to 10 different receivers, led by Bowen and Andrew Carlson with three catches apiece. Defensively, Steven McDonald finished the game with seven tackles, including a pair of sacks for 12 yards, and a forced fumble. Mychael Tuiasosopo had a quarterback sack and a fumble recover to go along with five tackles, and Justin Whitman finished with five tackles, two for losses totaling eight yards, and an interception in the end zone. As a team, the Lutes piled up five quarterback sacks and six pass deflections. Ka'ai finished the game throwing for 326 yards, completing 26 of his 48 attempts. Adam Kniffin had 10 receptions for 128 yards and Thiesen Chang added nine grabs for 96 yards. The Puget Sound running game was virtually nonexistent with seven net yards on 20 attempts.
LOOKING AT THE LOGGERS: The Puget Sound offense averages 23.3 points and 399.8 yards per game, but the defense has been porous. The Loggers allow an average of 54.5 points (ranking 238 out of 239 Division III programs) and 561.3 yards per contest (237 out of 239) to their opponents. Since a season-opening 30-7 loss at Sewanee, Puget Sound has allowed 55, 55, 55, 62 and 71 points in the next five games. Getting back to the offense, the UPS attack is centered around the passing game featuring quarterback Braden Foley and record-setting wide receiver Adam Kniffin. In five games (he missed a game due to injury), Foley is 114-for-216 for 1,470 yards (294.0 per game) with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Kniffin, an athletic 6-foot 3-inch receiver, was a Division III preseason All-American and has broken all kinds of Puget Sound football receiving records. This year he has 50 receptions for 781 yards (averages of 15.6 yards per reception and 130.2 yards per game) and 10 touchdowns. He quite simply is an outstanding football player whom most teams try to stop, but can't. Complimenting Kniffin are wide receivers Thiesen Chang with 20 receptions for 219 yards and Ryan Rogers with 16 grabs for 209 yards and two TDs. Kupuno Park is the heart of the ground game, averaging 79.8 yards per contest and scoring three touchdowns. The defensive leaders are linebacker Max Mirande with 42 total tackles including three for loss, defensive back Nasser Kyobe with 40 tackles, linebacker Max Gilbert with 35 tackles, and defensive back Joe Cerne with 31 tackles. Defensive back Connor Savage has two of the Loggers' four interceptions this season. Puget Sound quarterbacks, by the way, have thrown 15 interceptions.
MORE ON FOLEY TO KNIFFIN: Braden Foley is highly ranked in several Division III offensive categories. He is 19th in total offense per game (302.0 yards average), 24th in completions per game (22.8) and 16th in passing yards per game (294.0). Adam Kniffin is fourth in receiving yards per game (130.2), ninth in receptions per game (8.33) and 25th in points per game (10.0).
PICK THE DEFENSE: One part of the Lutes vs. Loggers matchup to watch is Puget Sound's emphasis on the pass against Pacific Lutheran's opportunistic pass defense. As previously noted, the Loggers have thrown 15 interceptions, which ranks 235th out of 239 teams, and the Lutes have 14 interceptions, which is tied for 11th in Division III. Senior cornerback Tayler Angevine has five interceptions in as many games and is tied for the national lead with an average of 1.0 interceptions per game. Junior cornerback Jonny Volland has four picks and averages 0.8 interceptions per game, ranking him in a tie for eighth. Other PLU defensive leaders include sophomore safety Greg Hibbard with 41 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery, senior linebacker Jordan Patterson with 35 tackles (including 5.5 for loss), junior safety Sean McFadden with 32 tackles, junior nose tackle Mychael Tuiasosopo with 31 tackles (including 6.5 for loss), two QB sacks, an interception (returned 22 yards for a TD), and a fumble recovery, sophomore cornerback Connor Cummings with 24 tackles, an interception and three fumble recoveries, and junior linebacker Ben Kaestner with 22 tackles (including three QB sacks). Overall, the Lutes allow their opponents 24.3 points and 356.5 yards per game.
LUTE NOTES - OFFENSE: While earlier noting Puget Sound's outstanding pass-and-catch combo of Braden Foley and Adam Kniffin, the Lutes have one of their own in quarterback Dalton Ritchey and wide receiver Kyle Warner. Ritchey is national ranked in total offense (23rd, 292.1 yards per game), passing yards per game (25th, 275.0), and completions per game (40th, 20.0), while Warner is 10th in receiving yards per game (130.2). Both are sophomores. Ritchey this season is 120-for-196 (61.2 percent) for 1,650 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has rushed 65 times for 103 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. Warner leads the Lutes with 38 receptions for 669 yards (17.6 yards per reception) and four touchdowns. Another sophomore receiver sidelined with a knee injury is Kellen Westering, who finishes the season with 26 catches for 433 yards. Sophomore slot back Daniel Herr has 20 catches for 191 yards and sophomore tight end Lucas Sontra has 13 grabs for 125 yards and a score. Brandon James leads the running game with 64.3 yards per game and he has scored four touchdowns. Ritchey and his mates have worked behind a five-man offensive line that has yet to miss a start - senior center Court Knoblauch, junior guard Chris Edison, sophomore guard Tevon Stephens-Brown, junior tackle Kyle Hofmann, and sophomore tackle Zach Phelps. In terms of team numbers, the Lutes are averaging 31.3 points and 395.0 yards per game, 276.0 of that through the air.
ABOUT THE COACHES: Scott Westering is in his ninth year as head coach at Pacific Lutheran, where he has compiled a 43-34 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. Jeff Thomas is in his third season at Puget Sound and has compiled a 2-22 overall entering Saturday's contest. During Thomas' first season as head coach, the Loggers broke 23 school records and put together the sixth-best passing offense in NCAA Division III while posting a 2-7 record. In his second seaosn as head coach, the Loggers posted an 0-9 record but continued to see records fall in the passing game. For the second straight season, the Loggers ranked in the top 10 in the nation in passing yards per game. Before he took over as the Loggers' head coach, Thomas served in multiple roles on the coaching staff at the University of Redlands from 2003-2009. After the 2009 season, Thomas was named the Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches' Association. A four-year letter-winner and senior captain at Redlands, Thomas began his career as a quarterback but then developed into one of the most decorated defensive backs in Redlands history.
TOY DRIVE AT LAST HOME GAME: Are you interested in attending Pacific Lutheran's final home game on Nov. 3 against Whitworth for free? PLU, in association with Thrivent Financial for Lutheran chapters West Pierce County and Mt. Rainier, are collecting toys for the annual WinterFest event hosted by Pacific Lutheran University. WinterFest serves more than 700 local Parkland families. If you bring a new, unwrapped toy (minimum value $5 for an individual and $10 for a family), you can get into the game for free.
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