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Ritchey's Big Passing Day Lifts PLU Past Menlo

Menlo had no where to run against Conor Gabbert (89), Jordan Patterson (48) and the PLU defense.
Menlo had no where to run against Conor Gabbert (89), Jordan Patterson (48) and the PLU defense.

ATHERTON, Calif. - Dalton Ritchey accounted for five touchdowns, including four passing, to lead Pacific Lutheran to a 38-21 non-conference football victory over the host Menlo College Oaks on Saturday afternoon.

The win was Pacific Lutheran's sixth in a row and give the team a 7-2 regular season record. Now, the Lutes await an announcement from the Division III national tournment selection committee to see if they have done enough to receive one of seven "Pool C" at-large berths into postseason play.

Of the 32 tournament berths, 24 go to "Pool A" conference champions and one to "Pool B" independents. Linfield won the Northwest Conference title with PLU placing second, and thus the Lutes' only way into postseason play is through an at-large bid.

The 32-team playoff field will be announced during at 3 p.m. Sunday during the Division III Football Selection Show that will be available on a video stream. The video stream is available at

Ritchey opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run that came with 4:09 remaining in the opening quarter, and he later added four touchdown passes that went to four different receivers.

After Nick Kaylor's 36-yard field goal put the Lutes on top 10-7, they added a 41-yard catch-and-run scoring pass from Ritchey to Kyle Warner to make it 17-7 with 4:28 left in the second period.

After a Menlo touchdown had cut the score to 17-14, PLU scored 21 consecutive points in the second half to put the game away. Ritchey and company responded right away to Menlo's touchdown by driving 75 yards and scoring on a 1-yard pass to Kellen Westering, that coming with 9:11 remaining in the third period.

PLU added another 75-yard drive, capped by Ritchey's 9-yard scoring toss to Lucas Sontra, which came 44 seconds into the final quarter. The last score was a 6-yard connection to Daniel Herr and was the first play from scrimmage following a fumble recovery by Stephen Hass on a Menlo punt return.

All of Menlo's touchdowns came on pass plays. Quarterback Matthias Pelasasa connected with Michael Alexander for 25 yards in the first quarter, with Alexander again for 12 yards in the third quarter, and with Robert Adan for 15 yards about four minutes from the end of the game.

The Lutes compiled 472 yards of total offense, including 389 through the air. Ritchey was 16-for-30 for 373 of those yards. His favorite receiver this game was Herr, who had seven receptions for 165 yards, and Warner was not far behind with five catches for 148 yards.

While the offense was putting up 38 points and nearly 500 yards of offense, the PLU defense was shutting down the Oaks' ground game. Menlo, which came into the game averaging 222 rushing yards per contest, was limited to 10 net yards on 25 carries by the Lutes defense.

Because of PLU's stingy defense against the Fly Offense, the Oaks were forced to throw the ball almost twice as many times as they ran it. Pelasasa ended the game completing 29 of his 40 throws for 314 yards for Menlo, which finishes with a 4-6 record.

Sean McFadden was credited with 13 total tackles, nine of them unassisted, Jordan Patterson was in on 11 and had two quarterback sacks, and Tayler Angevine finished with 10 tackles. The Lutes ended up with 11 tackles for losses of 72 yards, including four quarterback sacks totaling 45 yards. One of those sacks went for negative 22 yards and also resulted in an intentional grounding penalty.

- PLU -