FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Pacific found themselves within striking distance of an explosive Pacific Lutheran squad Saturday until the Lutes scored 19 fourth quarter points to beat the Boxers 50-23 in Northwest Conference football action under the lights at Lincoln Park Stadium.
The Boxers (0-8, 0-6 NWC) were within a touchdown after a 12-yard scoring pass from T.C. Campbell (Fr., Kaimuki, Hawaii) to Brian Taylor (Fr., Lewiston, Idaho) with 1:31 to go in the third quarter. The Lutes (7-1, 4-1 NWC), ranked No. 21 in the D3Football.com Top 25 Poll, closed the game with the three touchdown strikes while not allowing the Boxers a first down in the final 15 minutes.
Kelson Kawai (Fr., North Kohala, Hawaii) and Davis Jacobs (Fr., Tigard, Ore.) put together the Boxers' two best individual offensive days of the season. Kawai finished with 136 yards of all-purpose yardage, including 79 yards on four kick returns, and a touchdown. Jacobs, meanwhile, finished with 122 all-purpose yards, 92 of those coming on the ground, and a touchdown. Campbell also posted a season best day, completing 17 of 25 passes for 159 yards and touchdowns with one interception.
Despite the big days, the Boxers were limited as a team to 254 yards of total offense by a stingy Pacific Lutheran defense. The Lutes, meanwhile, used a balanced attack to finish with 580 yards of offense, including 297 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Jordan Rasmussen put up 313 yards in the air and threw for four touchdowns, completing 26 of 38 passes with one interception. Greg Ford caught eight balls for 120 yards while Kyle Whitford caught a pair of touchdown passes. Alec Simmons led the ground attack, rushing 15 times for 162 yards and a touchdown.
After being stopped on a goal line stand to open the game, the Lutes scored Rasmussen's 36-yard touchdown pass to Ford with 7:24 left in the first quarter. The Boxers put points on the board three drives later as Jon Lee (Sr., Kahalu'u, Hawaii) matched his season best with a 42-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 score after one quarter.
The two teams traded fumbles to close the first and open the second, with the Lutes capitalizing when Simmons rushed in from 36 yards out to make it a 13-3 lead. The Boxers took the points right back with a 15-play, 82-yard drive, which ended on a 6-yard Jacobs run to keep the Boxers within 13-10. The Lutes needed just 49 seconds to score again, with Rasmussen completing to Whitford for a 38-yard touchdown pass to cap the three-play drive.
PLU added one more score before halftime as Rasmussen found Isaac Moog for a three-yard pass to give the Lutes the 25-10 halftime advantage.
Pacific made the most of their opening drive of the second half, with Campbell finding Kawai for a 23-yard touchdown pass to reduce the Lutes' margin to 25-17. The Lutes took six of the seven back six minutes later with Rasmussen scoring himself on a short one-yard rush. PLU, however, could not shake a tenacious Pacific team as the Boxers took advantage of a popped-up punt to make it 31-23 when Campbell found Taylor for a 12-yard strike with 1:31 left.
While the Boxers kept making defensive stops, the Lutes kept finding ways to keep Pacific just out of reach. The Lutes made it a two-touchdown margin with 12:16 left in the fourth on a Va'a Logotala one-yard run. PLU put the game to rest with 5:50 to go when Rasmussen threw his fourth touchdown pass, a two-yard strike to Whitford. The Lutes added an insurance score with 1:07 to go as Cody Pohren ran in 15 yards for the touchdown.
Bryan Mills (Fr., Imbler, Ore.) led the Pacific defense with a season high 8.5 tackles and an interception, his second of the season. Ku Aiona (So., Kapolei, Hawaii) finished with seven tackles. Adam Schwander led PLU with 7.5 tackles, including a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble return.
Pacific will conclude the first season of the reinstated program on the road. The Boxers will travel to Atherton, Calif., for a non-conference matchup with Menlo next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon. Pacific Lutheran will host Willamette.