Box Score | Top Plays Video | Coach Buckley's Postgame Comments
FOREST GROVE – Pacific Lutheran capitalized on turnovers and big plays to stun a Pacific team that won big last week as the Lutes knocked off the Boxers 41-23 in Northwest Conference football action at Lincoln Park Stadium.
The Lutes (3-2, 2-1 NWC) saw quarterback Dalton Ritchey throw passes of 15 yards or more to four different receivers on the afternoon while four rushers had runs of 10 yards or more. The long plays highlighted a highly charged offense day that saw the teams combine for 828 yards of offense.
The PLU defense helped their own cause by intercepting Pacific quarterback P.J. Minaya (Jr., Wahiawa, Hawaii) three times, all of which led to touchdowns.
Ritchey completed 24 of 31 passes for 262 yards and one touchdown and rushed for a second as the Lutes finished with 413 yards of total offense. Minaya completed 32 of 45 passes for 342 yards and a trio of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Boxers were even in the yardage battle with 415 yards of total offense, but penalties hampered themonce again as the Boxers were flagged eight times for a total of 105 yards.
Kelson Kawai (Jr., North Kohala, Hawaii) led seven Pacific receivers to catch balls with 114 yards on seven receptions. Jakob Lawrence (So., Sherwood, Ore.) had eight catches for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Deven McKinney (So., Spanaway, Wash.) finished with 83 all-purpose yards. He led the Boxers with 40 yards rushing on four carries and also had 40 yards receiving on two catches.
Kyle Warner proved to be Ritchey's favorite target for the Lutes, making 11 catches for 142 yards. Brandon James led the PLU ground attack with 70 yards on 11 carries.
"In those first couple of series we moved the ball quite well, but we made a couple of mistakes that killed the drives," Pacific Head Coach Keith Buckley said. "With where we are right now, we can't make those mistakes and recover from them easily. We went into halftime down 18-2 and we had a chance to stay in the ball game. Sometimes you make plays and sometimes you don't, and in the second half we started to make those plays."
Pacific Lutheran broke open a defensive minded first quarter, when James ran in from two yards with 45 seconds left for the game's first score. The PAT attempt was blocked, one of three point-after failures for the Lutes in the game. PLU ended the quarter with the 6-0 lead.
The Lutes were right back on offense after Kellen Westering intercepted Minaya at midfield. PLU then took 4 minutes, 38 seconds to march down the field, ending when Ritchey found James for a short one-yard scoring pass that made it a 12-0 game.
PLU scored again on their next series with Niko Madison rushing on from four yards for the touchdown with 4:31 left. On the ensuing point-after attempt, Devin Lagorio (Jr., Stockton, Calif.) came up with the block and Craig Bailey (Jr., Fairfield, Calif.) ran the ball to the opposite end zone for the two-point conversion. It is the second time in as many years that the Boxers have turned a blocked point after into two points. With the deuce, the Boxers went into halftime trailing 18-2.
Pacific went three-and-out on their opening possession of the second half, and PLU wasted little time getting back on the board. Nick Kaylor's field goal attempt from 22 yards out capped a 10-play, 54-yard drive that took over six minutes to complete. The Lutes' defense then picked Minaya for the second time, this time with Tayler Angevine making the interception. That set up a Ritchey quarterback keeper for the score that gave PLU a 28-2 lead at the end of the third.
The Boxers finally put some scoring on offense together in the fourth quarter as they scored all three of their touchdowns in the stanza. On their first full drive of the quarter, Minaya marched the Boxers 71 yards before finding Roher for a six-yard scoring pass that made it a 28-9 game with 9:02 to go.
Pacific recovered the ensuing onside kick and seven plays later Minaya found Lawrence for the six-yard touchdown pass to cut the PLU lead to 28-16 with 6:33 to go. The Boxers could not recover their next onside kick attempt, and the Lutes converted it into one final score as Cody Pohren rushed in from three yards for a 35-16 lead. PLU managed the clock well, using 3:47 to cover 46 yards.
PLU put the game well out of reach on the very next play, as Mychael Tuiasosopo intercepted Minaya on the first play of the Boxers' next drive to make it a 41-16 lead. The Pacific quarterback recovered quickly, covering 80 yards over the next 2:14 and found Lawrence again for a one-yard scoring pass with 16 seconds left.
Bryan Mills (Jr., Imbler, Ore.) finished with a Pacific season-high 12 tackles to lead the defense. Josh Brinkworth (So., Elk Grove, Calif.) finished with seven tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. Chrystian Johnson (Jr., Rogue River, Ore.) had the lone sack of the game, his third in as many games. Greg Hibbard's seven tackles led PLU.
Buckley said he was happy with the continued fight in his team throughout the game. "If there is one we have always done, it is continued to fight during games," he said. "I think that showed today. We have a spirit that we will fight through."
The Boxers will regroup with a bye week, returning to the field on Sat., Oct. 27, when they play at Lewis & Clark. Pacific Lutheran returns home next Saturday to take on Willamette.