Contact: Mark Albanese, Director of Sports Communication
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University football team pushed the nation's sixth ranked team to overtime but an untimely penalty gave visiting Linfield College an escape route as the Wildcats slipped away with the 16-10 victory on Saturday at Sparks Stadium.
The visiting Wildcats (6-1, 5-0 Northwest Conference) had a first down on the 14-yard line in overtime. Linfield grinded the ball to the 10 before opting to kick a potential game winning field goal on third down. The kick sailed right but a roughing the kicker call gave the Wildcats a fresh set of downs as Chidubem Nnoli scampered five yards on the next play to score the game-winning touchdown.
PLU (2-4, 2-3 NWC) struck first with Alex Brost hitting a 29-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game. A Lute fumble in the second quarter set the table for an 11-play, 47-yard drive for Linfield with J.D. Lasswell scoring on a pass from Aiden Wilder. The Lutes regained the lead on the ensuing possession with backup quarterback Walker LaVoy finding Jacob King in the back of the endzone for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Linfield leveled the score with 1:25 left in the third quarter with a Willy Warne field goal and neither team was able to generate any points the remainder of regulation, forcing overtime.
LaVoy was pressed into duty for the Lutes, finishing with 175 yards and a touchdown through the air in his first action of the season under center while Cole Chandler was six-for-eight with 75 yards. Anthony Louthan led the ground attack with 46 yards while DJ Winter led the aerial attack with five receptions for 89 yards.
"These guys that are seniors played against them three years ago and we had a great second half and shut them down. And then last year as juniors they had a great first half. I showed that to the guys and said if we can have a good second half and a good first half together like we did, then we got this. They believed and they fought their hearts out. Really really proud of them. It was a great day," said defensive coordinator Craig McCord.
The Lute defense turned in a tremendous day against the sixth-ranked Wildcats, limiting them to just 66 yards passing. PLU got after the quarterback all day with four sacks, 10 TFLs, and one interception. Cooper Murphy led the defensive unit with 10 tackles while Parker Trewet and Matt Anthony both collected eight. Isaiah Watkins had a pair of sacks while Anthony Bautista hauled in a pick.
"Coverage was excellent and we were getting some pressure there (on the QB). It's so fun to see guys peak perform. We talk all the time about closing our potential performance gap and our guys did that today. And when we do that, we can play with anyone in the country. I hope now they actually believe what we've been telling them and I really think they do. My hats off to them."
Pacific Lutheran enjoyed a 292-186 advantage in total yards, while also holding an advantage in first downs (15 to 14) and time of possession (32:46).
The Lutes return to the gridiron next Saturday, traveling to Newberg, Oregon to face another nationally-ranked foe in George Fox University. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.