Article by Sam Horn, sports editor
Pacific Lutheran’s second football game of the season saw the Lutes reign triumphant over Redlands, 35-14.
The PLU football team pounded out 474 yards of offense against a weary Redlands’ defense.
It didn’t take long for the Lutes to draw first blood.
With nearly seven minutes remaining in the first quarter, quarterback Dalton Ritchey, a junior, threw a controlled pass to tight end Lucas Sontra, also a junior.
The Lutes didn’t stop their scoring rampage there though.
The Lutes took a commanding 14-0 lead going into the second quarter after a one-yard run by running back Niko Madison, a junior. Madison went on to tally 118 yards on the ground against Redlands.
Madison carried the ball 16 times, averaging a walloping 7.4 yards per rush attempt.
Compare Madison’s average to that of Redlands’ top running back, Curtis Tanquary.
The freshman running back averaged a meager 3.2 yards per run and totaled 47 rushing yards.
The Lutes’ defense wouldn’t budge an inch, holding Tanquary back to such a limited amount of rushing yards.
The Lutes’ secondary took advantage of some offensive miscues by Redlands. Safety Sean McFadden, a senior, and cornerback Jonny Volland, a senior, each intercepted a pass.
McFadden was a First Team All-Northwest Conference defensive back last year after picking off two passes and recording 61 tackles.
While the PLU secondary caused multiple problems for Redlands’ trio of quarterbacks, the Lutes’ linebackers didn’t make Redlands’ offensive starters lives any easier.
Linebacker Dalton Darmody, a senior, turned in an impressive game. The 6-foot, 225-pound linebacker recorded seven tackles, with one of them being for a loss of yards.
Darmody also forced a fumble, recovered the ball and ran it in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He recorded a sack as well.
That’s a solid day at the office.
While the Lutes’ defense held Redlands’ offense to just 227 yards, Kyle Warner, a junior, was Ritchey’s favorite target, snagging five passes.
The wide receiver, who set PLU football’s single-season record with 1,265 receiving yards in 2012, tallied 137 receiving yards. No matter how hard Redlands’ defensive backs tried, nobody could successfully cover Warner.
Warner sealed the deal for the Lutes in the fourth quarter after catching two touchdown passes four minutes apart from each other. After Warner caught his second touchdown of the day, the Lutes held a 35-7 advantage.
Fellow wide receiver Kellen Westering, a junior, also caught six passes for 78 yards.
“They [the wide receivers] played an astounding game,” Ritchey said.
Warner accounted for about half of Ritchey’s 306 passing yards. While Ritchey completed 19 of his 34 pass attempts and threw three touchdown passes, Redland’s intercepted two of his.
“I think Dalton [Ritchey] is excited to get better,” head coach Scott Westering said. “He was razor sharp early and then he struggled. Dalton learned from his mistakes. It was exciting to see the growth and maturity of the team and of Dalton and where he is.”
In the fourth quarter, defensive back Connor Hoffman, a sophomore, returned one of Ritchey’s interceptions 76 yards for a touchdown.
“There were definitely a few balls that I wanted to have back,” Ritchey said. “You can never be satisfied. There’s always going to be plays in your mind that you wish that you could have back.”
Redlands managed to score a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but it was just a set of consolation points. The California-based university had no chance of making a comeback with 37 seconds left on the clock.
Even though the Lutes put up 35 points against Redlands, there were several missed opportunities in the kicking game.
Field goal kickerNick Kaylor, a senior, had the opportunity to add six points to the Lutes’ score but failed to convert on both of his field goals. Kaylor was perfect on his extra point attempts, however, going 5-for-5.
“It wasn’t Nick’s [Kaylor] day. It’s not like next week, we’re not going to kick a field goal,” Scott Westering said. “Some days, for some reason, they just don’t have it.”
On Saturday, the Lutes will travel to Wisconsin to square off against Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Game time is at 10 a.m.
Scott Westering said he believes that with enough hard work and determination, anything is possible going ahead into the Lutes’ upcoming games.
“It’s all about focusing on being the best team we can be with the philosophy of our program,” Scott Westering said.
“It’s about buying into our program and developing relationships with each other. It’s who you are, not what you do. We just want to get as good as we can get.”