Written by Student Assistant Carson Barnett
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran football team will try to continue its success from last week as they finish the regular season at home on Saturday against Lewis & Clark College on Senior Day.
Saturday's game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. at Sparks Stadium, will be the 5th Annual Military Appreciation Game for the Lutes. In commemoration of Veterans Day the Lutes will honor our armed forces veterans and active-duty members and family in a pre-game ceremony.
The Lutes (3-4, 3-3 NWC) come into Saturday's contest off of an incredible 13-3 upset win last weekend over 21st-ranked George Fox University.
Last weekend the Lute defense soared once again in the victory as they held the high powered George Fox offense to just 199 total yards and only 55 passing yards. Senior linebacker Isaiah Watkins led the way with seven tackles and a sack and defensive backs Carson Ketter and Travis McMillion both had key interceptions in the fourth quarter. The Lute defense kept the Bruins out of the end zone all game long and only allowed one field goal.
Offensively the Lutes racked up 349 yards of total offense with 240 yards of it coming through the air. The Lutes also held the ball for over 17 more minutes than the Bruins did. The big play PLU offense was led by junior quarterback Walker LaVoy who completed 28 of 42 passes for 240 yards. Running back Anthony Louthan scampered for 50 yards while Brady Winter racked up 92 receiving yards and Jacob King for 80 yards, both with eight receptions. Kicker, Alex Brost converted on seven of the 13 points on the day with two crucial field goals and an extra point.
One of the unsung heroes for the Lute offense these past four seasons has been senior offensive lineman Austin Striplin. Striplin has started 27 games in his career for the Lutes and has blocked for a 100 yard team rushing attack in 21 of those 27. The four-year starter has been nominated for all-conference twice and will play in his final game in a Lute uniform this Saturday. The Lute captain feels that this team is playing a lot better right now than their record shows.
"The season may not be what we all wished for on the wins and losses chart, but this season has been one for the books," said Striplin. "We are playing some darn good football right now and it enlightens me because I want this success to be caught by the younger guys in the program and keep it rolling into next season."
Striplin, a Sumner, Washington native and business major here at PLU with a concentration in finance, has hopes of going into sales with his future career. Striplin has spent this season giving as much advice to the younger players on the team and will continue to encourage them with their future here in the PLU football program.
"If I could leave anything for the younger guys it would to be better than the guy you look up to. Better in leadership, better in work ethic, better in school. Don't strive to be exactly like someone, be better than them. In this football program, it's easy to want success for the younger guys, it's easy to get excited about them because we are a family. I'm excited for this group to move on and move up in the ranks of this program because these guys are hungry for success. I can't wait to see them perform."
One person who has taken all that Striplin has offered is junior offensive lineman Alex Fairhurst. Fairhurst, a second team all-conference nominee last season has started next to Striplin for three seasons now. The Snohomish, Washington native credits a lot of his success to what he has learned from Striplin.
"It's been great to learn and grow next to such a selfless person," said Fairhurst. "He is an amazing athlete, but more important than that is his willingness to help and encourage those around him. He makes you want to believe in your own ability to do something. He truly has embodied what this program is all about, bringing out the best in others as well as yourself."
Nov. 11: PLU vs. Lewis & Clark at Sparks Stadium (1 p.m.)
Series History: The Lutes and Pioneers have clashed 51 times on the gridiron with PLU enjoying a 40-10-1 edge in the all-time series. The Lutes have won 21 of the last 22 encounters, including a 48-14 thrashing last season on Nov. 5.
About the Pioneers: Lewis & Clark (2-6, 1-5 NWC) heads to Washington looking to snap a five-game slide.
The Pioneers had a strong start to the season, snapping a 33-game skid in a 40-29 victory over non-conference foe Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Sept. 16 before edging Willamette University 24-21 on a last second field goal the following week.
Lewis & Clark has struggled since the win over the Bearcats, dropping five in a row including a 48-7 decision to Whitworth last Saturday.
Sawyer May is the Pios leading passer tossing 11 touchdowns and throwing for 1,253 yards before getting injured in last Saturday's game. His most popular target has been the aptly named Heisman Hosoda who has 31 receptions for 428 yards and four touchdowns.
Lewis & Clark's ground attack is led by Michael Abraham who enters the game with a team-best 380 rushing yards.