Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
PUYALLUP, Wash. - Defense ruled the day on Saturday at Sparks Stadium with the Pacific Lutheran University football team limiting Pacific University to a season low point total in the Lutes' 27-16 victory to open Northwest Conference play.
Pacific (1-3, 0-1 NWC) entered Saturday's game averaging 32.3 points per game. PLU held the Boxers to half of that, yielding just 16 points and allowing just 323 yards of total offense. PLU held running back Kamana Pimental to 51 yards on 20 carries, well below his Pimental 109.6 yards per game coming into the contest.
"Our defense played extremely well," head coach Scott Westering said. "Craig (McCord) has these guys playing and believing in each other. They are playing really well."
It was a total team effort as 11 different Lutes (2-1, 1-0 NWC) had multiple tackles. Travis McMillion led the defense with 13 tackles, an interception and a tipped pass while Carson Ketter had 10 tackles.
The offense got off to a fast start by scoring on their first drive of the game. DJ Winter caught a 10-yard pass from Jon Schaub to get the Lutes on the board. The drive lasted seven plays, going 82 yards in 4:23.
The defense forced a three and out, leading to a Pacific punt on fourth down. TJ Morris was able to block the punt, giving the Lutes the ball on the eight-yard line.
Schaub connected with Kellen Westering on the very next play for an eight-yard score. Westering finished the day with five catches for 66 yards.
"We wanted to start off fast," Westering said. "To be able to put up 14 points on the board in the first quarter was unreal. It's exciting because our defense is playing lights out. For our offense to finally get it going was huge for us."
Anthony Louthan was a huge help to the PLU defense. Louthan boomed six punts, averaging 40.5 per punt. Louthan's longest punt was 57 yards, pinning the Boxers inside the 10, one of the sophomore's two punts parked two punts inside the 10-yard line.
Dallan Rodriguez hit two field goals for PLU. Rodriguez hit a 38 yard field goal in the second quarter and a 29 yarder early in the fourth.
"When you have a punter like that, who is able to flip the field. He's unbelievable," Coach Westering said. "Dallan made a few field goals for us."
Offensively, Darin Hardgrove had 80 yards on the ground on 11 carries, including a 52 yard scamper for a touchdown to virtually ice the game with 1:41 left in the fourth.
Pacific Lutheran hits the road next weekend, facing Willamette University at 1 p.m. in Salem, Oregon.