COMING UP: Pacific Lutheran, winner of four straight games, closes out the Northwest Conference and home part of its 2012 football season this Saturday when it hosts the Whitworth Pirates starting at 12:30 p.m. at Puyallup's Sparks Stadium. PLU is 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the conference, good for a second place behind 4-0 Linfield. Whitworth enters Saturday's game with a 6-2 overall mark and at 2-2 is tied with Willamette and Pacific for third place 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. Follow the game via live stats at http://www.plu.edu/athletics-stats/football/livestats/xlive.
NATIONAL POLLS: Winning a football game by 27 points must be a negative to the voting members of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll. After last Saturday's 41-14 win over Puget Sound, the Lutes went from 29 votes in the Oct. 22 poll to 16 points in this week's poll. Go figure. The Lutes did improve from 23 votes to 39 votes in the D3football.com Top 25.
SERIES HISTORY: Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth have met 67 times dating back to 1931. The Lutes hold a 48-19 record overall in the series. However, the Pirates have won six out of the last eight meetings between the two teams. From 1966 to 2000, PLU dominated Whitworth year in and year out as the Lutes won 32 straight games over the Bucs.
LAST YEAR: Nick Kaylor booted a 36-yard field goal as time expired to give visiting Pacific Lutheran a dramatic 20-17 win over Whitworth in a Northwest Conference football game played at the Pine Bowl on Oct. 8, 2011. The Pirates appeared to have sent the game to overtime when Bryan Peterson connected on a 19-yard touchdown pass to former PLU player Aaron Blaska with 55 seconds left that tied the game 17-17. A long kickoff return by Tayler Angevine and a late unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Pirates helped move the ball to the Whitworth 19-yard line with four seconds left, setting up Kaylor's kick. The field goal was the second of the game by the PLU kicker, the first coming from 24 yards in the third quarter, and it marked the second time this season that Kaylor has converted two field goals in a game. He did the same thing in PLU's season-opening 27-0 win over Hamline, which then marked the first time since Nov. 9, 1996, that Pacific Lutheran had successfully kicked two field goals in one game. PLU outgained Whitworth, 289-256, as both defenses made it hard for the offenses to sustain any momentum. The Pirates got on the scoreboard first when Drew Goranson kicked a 21-yard field goal with 34 seconds to play in the first quarter. But that was a victory for the Lute defenders. Whitworth's Cailen Thomason intercepted PLU quarterback Zack Halverson and returned the ball 27 yards to the Lute 5-yard line before the PLU defense forced the field goal. PLU then went 87 yards on their only sustained drive of the game to score its first touchdown. Running back Brandon James got the Lutes out of deep in their own territory with a 24-yard run, and he ended the drive with a 5-yard carry for the touchdown. Whitworth's Ronnie Thomas fumbled the ensuing kickoff and PLU took advantage when Halverson connected with Daniel Herr for a six-yard touchdown pass three plays later, giving the Lutes a 14-3 lead. Thomas atoned for the mistake late in the first half when he completed a 38-yard drive that was set up when Whitworth recovered a fumble as Halverson tried to pitch to James on an option play on third down. Peterson connected with Derek Martin on a 22-yard pass completion and then Thomas danced through several defenders for an 11-yard score that pulled the Pirates within 14-10 just before halftime. Angevine set up PLU for a short scoring march to start the second half with a 44-yard kickoff return to the Whitworth 36-yard line. The Pirate defense came up big, holding PLU inside the 10 and forcing Kaylor's 24-yard field goal. Despite an average starting field position on the Whitworth 42-yard line in the third quarter, PLU could not add to its advantage. Thomason came up with his second interception of the game at the Whitworth 23 to stop the Lutes' best chance to extend their lead. Whitworth looked like it would tie the game early in the fourth quarter after driving 70 yards and gaining first down on the PLU 10-yard line, but three plays later it was fourth down at the Lutes' three and Jordan Patterson forced Peterson into a wild throw through the end zone. PLU had a chance to ice the game after Steven McDonald recovered Peterson's fumble at the Pirates' 48-yard line with 7:01 to play, but this time it was the Whitworth defense that held on fourth down at the 33-yard line when Thomason broke up a pass intended for Alex McDiarmid. Peterson was sacked on Whitworth's next play, but then he completed 6-of-7 passes for 67 yards to lead the Pirates to their game-tying score with 55 seconds to play. Angevine came up big for PLU again as he returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to the PLU 45-yard line. On third down Halverson completed a 24-yard pass to McDiarmid at the Whitworth 28. Two plays and a false start later the Lutes had moved back to the 33 when Paul Miller broke up a pass attempt and appeared to force a fourth down. But a flag came in after the play against the Pirates for unsportsmanlike conduct. That allowed the Lutes to move to Whitworth's 18 yard line, giving Kaylor a chance at his winning kick with four seconds to play. Halverson completed 21-of-36 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for PLU. Four Lutes caught four passes each, including McDiarmid and Dalton Ritchey. James finished with 82 yards rushing on 15 carries. Peterson completed 20-of-27 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions to lead the Whitworth offense. Austin Ehlo caught four passes for 42 yards, while three other Pirates made three grabs. Thomas finished with 74 yards on 15 carries. Adam Schwander and Sean McFadden each had seven tackles to lead the Lutes. Erik Magnussen had four stops and was in on two of PLU's six sacks in the game.
ABOUT THE COACHES: Scott Westering is in his ninth year as head coach at Pacific Lutheran, where he has compiled a 44-34 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. John Tully is the winningest and longest-serving football coach in Whitworth football history with 95-76 record in his 18th season at the Spokane school. Prior to coming to Whitworth, Tully was at Eureka College for five seasons. In 22 years as a college head coach he has compiled a 126-97 record.
PIRATES SAIL INTO PUYALLUP: The Pirates sail into Sparks Stadium after a bye week, which followed a 70-11 trouncing of Puget Sound the previous Saturday at the Pine Bowl. Whitworth opened the 2012 season with five consecutive wins, suffered back-to-back conference losses to Willamette (38-24 at home) and Linfield (54-14 on the road) before the big win over Puget Sound. Whitworth averages 34.1 points and 373.8 yards per game while allowing averages of 27.1 points and 420.9 yards. Leading the running attack, which averages 143.1 yards per contest, is Ronnie Thomas. The senior tailback from Granite Bay, Calif., has compiled 900 rushing yards with averages of 112.5 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. He has tallied 10 touchdowns to lead the Pirates in scoring. DJ Tripoli, Thomas' backup, has rushed for 219 yards this season. The quarterback is 6-foot 3-inch sophomore Bryan Peterson, who has thrown for 1,414 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Peterson is 101-for-177, 57 percent accuracy, and has thrown five interceptions. His backup, Michael McCune, has thrown for 407 yards and six touchdowns. For the third straight Saturday the Lutes will have to deal with one of the top receivers in the Northwest Conference. Two weeks ago it was Willamette's Jake Knecht (two receptions for 10 yards) and last week it was Adam Kniffin (five catches for 56 yards and a TD). This week, 166-pound senior Jake DeGooyer provides a big challenge to the PLU secondary. DeGooyer comes into the game ranked first in the conference with 56 receptions, second with 829 receiving yard, and third in yards per game with 103.6 and in touchdowns with eight. Tight end Wade Meyer is next on the list with 15 catches for 287 yards, and wide receiver Austin Ehlo has five touchdowns among his 11 total receptions. Defensively, cornerback Kainoa Raguindin leads the Pirates with 54 tackles and seven passes broken up. He also has a pair of Whitworth's 13 team interceptions. Linebacker Nic Brockhoff has 45 tackles and two interceptions, starting free safety Jesse Bresser has 43 tackles, and defensive end Aaron Cochran leads the Bucs with 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 quarterback sacks among his 38 total tackles. Cornerback De' Hall leads Whitworth with three interceptions. The Pirates are a +8 in the turnover category.
LUTE NOTES: Pacific Lutheran rides a four-game winning streak into Sparks Stadium and has scored 41 points in each of the last three wins. The Lutes average 32.7 points and 393.9 yards per game while giving up averages of 22.8 points and 344.6 yards per contest. The Lutes have moved toward more of a balanced attack in recent weeks, though they still average nearly twice as many yards passing as rushing. The running game averages 137.9 yards, led by senior Brnadon James with 56.3 per game. Senior fullback Cody Pohren, coming off his best game as a collegian with 100 yards against Puget Sound, averages 31.1 yards per game. PLU has rushed for 16 touchdowns this season, five by quarterback Dalton Ritchey, four each by James and sophomore Niko Madison, and three by Pohren. Ritchey, a sophomore, is 132-for-216 this season (61.1 percent) for 1,786 yards wtih 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions, three of which came last weekend at UPS. Sophomore wide receiver Kyle Warner has 45 receptions for 784 yards (17.4 per catch) with five touchdowns. With 112.0 receiving yards per game he ranks 12th in all of Division III football. Sophomore slotback Daniel Herr has 21 carches for 195 yards and sophomore tight end Lucas Sontra has 14 grabs for 134 yards. 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. Defensively, not much has changed at the top of the tackle chart. Sophomore safety Greg Hibbard leads the team with 44 tackles, followed by senior linebacker Jordan Patterson with 41, including 6.5 for loss, junior safety Sean McFadden with 41, and junior nose tackle Mychael Tuiasosopo with 32, including 7.5 for loss. Junior linebacker Ben Kaestner leads the team with eight tackles for loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks among his 29 total tackles. As a team the Lutes have picked off 17 opponent passes, led by Tayler Angevine with five. Junior cornerback Jonny Volland has four interceptions, and the Lutes have gone "pick six" with three of those interceptions with senior linebacker Eric Hoium, Angevine and Tuiasosopo doing the honors. Additionally, the PLU defense has scored a touchdown in the form of Doug Sullivan's fumble return against Puget Sound.
WARNER WARNING: You can bet that any team that takes on Pacific Lutheran puts out a Warner Warning to its secondary. PLU sophomore wide receiver Kyle Warner averages 6.4 receptions per game, 112.0 yards per game and 17.4 yards per reception, and he has five TD grabs this season. In seven games Warner has eclipsed 100+ receiving yards four times, including nine catches for 195 yards against Lewis & Clark and 11 grabs for 142 yards versus Pacific.
RITCHEY ROCKS: Sophomore quarterback Dalton Ritchey, in his first season as a starter, has proven his ability to make things happen with both his right arm and his athletic feet. Ritchey averages 255.1 passing yards per game and has five games in which he has thrown for at least 262 yards, including 337 in the season opener against Cal Lutheran and 296 versus Linfield. He has been particularly impressive carrying the ball in the last two games, gaining 65 yards and scoring three times on 14 carries against Willamette and gaining 47 yards on 10 attempts versus Puget Sound.
TAYLER MADE DEFENSE: Cornerback Tayler Angevine is among the Division III leaders with his five interceptions in six games. Angevine, who missed the Redlands game because of a shoulder injury, has been stellar during this, his senior season. He picked off two passes against Lewis & Clark and also nabbed interceptions against Linfield, Pacific and Willamette. His 80-yard "pick six" against Willamette not only ended what looked to be a Bearcat scoring drive, it became a PLU touchdown when he raced down the sideline in front of the Lutes bench for the score. Angevine has three tackles for loss, a quarterback sack and has broken up five passes.
LAST WEEK: Trailing 14-7 late in the second quarter, Pacific Lutheran scored 35 unanswered points to defeat the host Puget Sound Loggers, 41-14, in a Northwest Conference football game played in the rain last Saturday afternoon at Baker Stadium. Puget Sound came into the game giving up more averages than 560 yards and 54 points per game, but it played opportunistic defense against a Pacific Lutheran offense that would end the game with five turnovers, including four interceptions. After a scoreless first quarter, the Loggers made the initial touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Braden Foley to Kevin Miller, capping a nine-play, 74-yard drive. The Lutes came right back down the field in less than 90 seconds, Dalton Ritchey hitting Kyle Warner with a 42-yard touchdown aerial. A PLU penalty on the ensuing kickoff gave the Loggers great field position at the Lutes' 45-yard line, and six plays later Foley found wide receiver and All-America candidate Adam Kniffin in the end zone for an 18-yard score. Kelly Morgan made a big play on the kickoff return for PLU, taking the ball 43 yards to the Puget Sound 37-yard line. That set up a seven-play drive that Ritchey capped with a 4-yard toss to Brandon James, making the score 14-14 at the half. Ben Kaestner and Connor Cummings ended two Puget Sound drives with interceptions in the first half, and a diving interception by Sean McFadden set up the Lutes at the UPS 29-yard line about five minutes into the third quarter. PLU took six plays - five of the running variety - to take its first lead of the game, that coming on a 4-yard run by Niko Madison. Yet another PLU takeaway led to the next score. This time, Sam Lavis sacked Foley, causing a fumble that Derrik Larsen recovered at the UPS 10-yard line. The Lutes got into the end zone on Cody Pohren's 2-yard push up the middle, making it 28-14 PLU with 3:57 left in the third quarter. Pacific Lutheran added two more touchdowns in the final period, the first coming on a shake-and-bake 24-yard touchdown run by Niko Madison to cap a 69-yard drive, and the final one coming on Doug Sullivan's 35-yard fumble return after Mychael Tuiasosopo sacked Foley and knocked the ball loose. Pohren led a PLU running attack that ground up 251 net yards on 44 carries. Pohren, the senior back who came into the game with just 27 total carries, toted the ball 13 times for 100 yards. Madison added 61 yards on seven carries, and Ritchey had 47 yards on 10 attempts. Ritchey completed 12 of his 20 attempts for 136 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Warner finished with seven receptions for 115 yards. Defensively, McFadden had nine tackles, Kaestner seven and Jordan Patterson six. The Lutes finished the game with five quarterback sacks, seven tackles for loss and five takeaways.
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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