FOREST GROVE – Pacific's long awaited first win came on one of the best performances since the program returned to the field in 2010 Saturday, thrilling a homecoming crowd with a 44-25 victory over Puget Sound in Northwest Conference football action at Lincoln Park Stadium.
The Boxers (1-7, 1-4 NWC) racked up an impressive 469 yards of total offense behind a record afternoon by quarterback T.C. Campbell (So., Kaimuki, Hawaii). The sophomore completed 21 of 27 passes for a near-record 387 yards and tied his own school record from last season with five touchdown passes.
Pacific also received a pair of 100-yard plus receiving efforts from Jordan Fukumoto (So., Mililani, Hawaii) and Caleb Roher (Fr., Gresham, Ore.). Roher had three catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns, while Fukumoto had five catches for 115 yards and a pair of scores. The Boxers' defense also did their part, forcing four Puget Sound turnovers, including three interceptions.
Head Coach Keith Buckley praised the Boxers' effort, especially in light of a subpar performance last weekend at Whitworth. "For these kids to rebound as freshmen and sophomores and come out and put this type of effort together and stay together as one team, for the tough weeks we've through is tremendous," Buckley said "We understand it's one win, but it's a special win and it's one that these kids will be able to remember for a long, long time."
The game proved to be an air show between two of the top passing offenses in the nation. Pacific outgained the Loggers in total offense 469-381. Pacific had 387 yards passing, while Puget Sound netted 351 yards in the air. The Boxers finished with a season-high 82 yards rushing led by an 80-yard effort from Davis Jacobs (So., Tigard, Ore.).
"It's the most amazing feeling," Campbell said of the milestone day for the Boxers. "We've worked so hard these last two years to come and earn this. To win at home, on homecoming, in front of our fans means so much to us."
Puget Sound (0-8, 0-5 NWC) got on the board first, scoring on a 43-yard field goal by Everett West with 4:59 to go in the first quarter. The Boxers did not need much time to score on their next drive, with Campbell connecting on a 44-yard touchdown pass to Roher with 1:16 left in the period to take the 7-3 lead.
The Boxers converted a Puget Sound fumble into a touchdown to open the second quarter, with Bryce Kershner (So., Jordan Valley, Ore.) running from three yards out for the only rushing score of the day. Foley answered right back for the Loggers on their next drive, finding Adam Kniffin for a 15-yard pass. After a two-point conversion, the Loggers were within 14-11 with 8:28 left in the half.
Pacific would score the next three touchdowns on big plays as the offensive line seemed to give Campbell all day to throw the ball. Campbell capped the first half by finding Fukumoto for a 27-yard strike that allowed the Boxers a 21-11 lead at halftime.
After the Loggers gave the ball up on downs deep in Pacific territory to open the second half, Campbell hooked up with Roher for his second touchdown of the day as the freshman streaked down the field to complete a 67-yard scoring pass at the 9:52 mark. Craig Bailey (So., Fairfield, Calif.) intercepted Foley in the end zone on the Loggers' next drive, and Campbell needed just one play to find Fukumoto for a 72-yard bomb that gave the Boxers a commanding 35-11 lead.
Puget Sound their first second half touchdown on one of their longest drives of the game, marching 59 yards on 14 plays before Foley found Kniffin for a short three-yard rout to make it a 35-17 game with 4:38 to go in the third. The dagger, though, came on the Boxers' next drive when Campbell connected with Brian Taylor (So., Lewiston, Idaho) for a 17-yard scoring pass just 20 seconds in the fourth quarter.
Ross Zuhl added a too little, too late touchdown at the 10-minute mark when he was on the receiving end of a 24-yard pass from Foley to the end zone. The Boxers added two more points late with Josh Brinkworth (Fr., Elk Grove, Calif.) sacking backup quarterback James Korn for a safety.
Foley completed 29 of 51 passes for Puget Sound for 332 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Korn gave up two interceptions while going 1 for 6 passing. Thiesen Chang finished with 148 yards on 10 carries while Knifin finished with 63 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches.
Chaz Bajet (Fr., Waipahu, Hawaii), Tim Hastie (So., Auberry, Calif.) and Brinkworth each had eight tackles to lead the Boxers. Both Brinkworth and Hastie had a sack and a tackle for loss. Bryan Mills (So., Imbler, Ore.) and Chris Santiago (Fr., Waipahu, Hawaii) each had the fourth quarter interceptions. Cody Pedro-Sakuma finished with 12 tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss to lead the Loggers.
In addition to today being Pacific's homecoming game, it was the final home game of the 2011 season. The Boxers will wrap up the season on Saturday, travelling to Puyallup, Wash., to face Pacific Lutheran. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Puget Sound has a bye next week and will host Whitworth in their finale on Sat., Nov. 12.
BOXER BYTES: Today's win is the first for a Pacific football team since Nov. 10, 1990, when the Boxers beat Oregon Tech 15-14 in Forest Grove. The original program was discontinued following the 1991 season. The victory also snapped a 25-game losing streak for the Boxers dating back to the start of the 1991 campaign (16 of those coming with the new program)…The five touchdown passes for Campbell tied his own mark set last year in a Nov. 13, 2010 game at Menlo. Ralph Nickerson also shares in the record, throwing five touchdown passes against College of Idaho back in 1973…Frank Buckiewicz, Sr., a 1952 Associated Press Little All-American for Pacific and the Boxers' head coach from 1965 to 1980, was honored before the game and participated in the coin toss…Attendance was announced at 2,782, a near sellout crowd for Lincoln Park Stadium.