THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -Cole Chandler tossed a touchdown and ran for two more but it was not enough as the Pacific Lutheran University football team fell just short on Saturday night with host California Lutheran University holding on for the 27-21 victory under the lights at Rolland Stadium.
The Lutes (0-1) were on the move in the waning moments of the fourth quarter before the drive sputtered at the CLU six yard line. Chandler scampered four yards for a touchdown with 4:59 left in the game, pulling the Lutes within six. The Lute defense came up big the next possession, forcing the Kingsmen (1-0) to a three-and-out. PLU was back in business on its own 42 with 3:55 remaining and was able to rumble to the six on a reception by Ethan McElderry. The drive stalled from there as a fourth down attempt from the 13-yard line was intercepted, sealing the win for host Cal Lutheran.
The Kingsmen scored on their opening drive but the Lutes answered late in the first quarter with DJ Winterscoring on a seven-yard reception to tie the game with 68 seconds left in the quarter. Cal Lu surged back in front with a pair of touchdowns in the second, enjoying a 21-7 halftime edge. Chandler ran in from 13 yards out midway through the third before scoring late in the fourth. Those runs were sandwiched around CLU field goals that ultimately proved the difference-maker.
"It was a game of two halves for us," said Head Coach Scott Westering. "We gave up 300 yards and 21 points in the first half and only two field goals in the second."
Chandler finished with 175 yards through the air while also adding 41 on the ground, having a hand in all three scores on the night. DJ Winter proved the most popular target, nabbing five catches for 57 yards while McElderry led the ground attack, running for 61 yards on 11 carries while also racking up 238 all-purpose yards, accumulating 50 on three receptions and 127 more on six kick returns.
"Offensively, Cole and Ethan played well. We had to overcome two serious injuries early in the game but I'm very proud of how we battled back and gave ourselves a chance at the end against a really good and athletic CLU team."
Cal Lu outgained the Lutes 428-303 with 277 of those yards coming through the air with Aaron Lacombe and Wendell O'Brien both finishing with over 100 yards receiving.
Pacific Lutheran is back in action next Saturday, facing Warner University at 1 p.m. in the home opener at Sparks Stadium.