By Steven McGrain, Guest Writer
The Pacific Lutheran University football team played out an unorthodox Northwest Conference game against Pacific University on Saturday, falling to the Boxers 31-28 for the first time since 1972.
PLU’s defense faced off against a strong Pacific offense who simply played their best football at home in Forest Grove, Ore.
Pacific’s junior quarterback Warner Shaw did not throw an incompletion until the third offensive drive and marched to a touchdown on the Boxers’ opening drive.
Shaw completed 21 of 24 pass attempts for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
Regarding the play of Shaw, PLU senior safety Derek Kaufman said, “his ability to extend plays and elude our pass rush, gave them an opportunity to continue drives.”
Pacific dominated the time of possession due to the inability of the Lutes to force a fourth down.
The opposition would find themselves in a third down situation 15 times throughout the span of the game, but PLU’s defense could not get off the field, as Pacific converted 11 of those 15 attempts into first downs.
On the other side of the ball, PLU’s offense only converted three out of eight attempts at a first down, resulting in the Boxers controlling the time of possession by nine minutes.
Lute senior quarterback Dalton Ritchey had an uncharacteristic outing.
Ritchey, who averages 153 passing yards per game, recorded 127 yards and his main target, senior wide receiver Kyle Warner, accounted for 105 yards.
The one thing the Lutes quarterback does throughout the progression of the game is spread the football around to multiple receivers. On average he finds six different playmakers, but Saturday he only targeted four.
Ritchey finished the game completing 14 of his 25 pass attempts for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior tight-end Lucas Sontra recorded his first touchdown of the season.
“We performed well, we pass blocked well and were able to consistently gain 5.5 yards per carry,” PLU junior offensive lineman Cody Erpling said. “We just ran out of time in the end.”
With the loss, PLU drops to 3-2 on the year, the two losses coming in NWC competition making a chance at the playoffs nearly impossible after reaching the postseason the last two years.
Pacific continues its surprising run up the NWC and is 3-0 in conference and 3-2 overall.
“At the moment, we are focused on playing Willamette this week, nothing more, nothing less,” PLU senior wide receiver Austin Hilliker said.
PLU welcomes the Willamette Bearcats to Sparks Stadium in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, Oct. 25. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.