In their first two games of the season, the Pacific Lutheran football program has had its fair share of growing pains. The difficulties continued in their first Northwest Conference game against the Pacific Boxers as they fell 34-7.
Coming into the season, the Lutes knew how much of a challenge they were up against, having almost an entirely new slate of starters on both sides of the ball. In fact, they returned just six starters.
The Boxers, on the other hand, have a plethora of returners that dot the roster at nearly every position.
Not to mention the 2014 contest between the two, coming down to the wire as the Boxers beat the Lutes 31-28, as well as the year before when the Lutes beat the Boxers 17-16.
The matchup between the Lutes and Boxers this year was not as dramatic. Out of Pacific’s five drives of the first half, they scored on four of them: Two touchdowns and two field goals.
It was a different story for PLU in the first half. On the Lutes’ second drive, they drove the ball all the way down to the 10-yard line but came up just short on a 4th and 2nd. After that, the Lutes punted three straight times.
It couldn’t have been scripted much better for the Boxers in front of the 2,710 in attendance for Homecoming.
Lutes had proved throughout the first two games that they were capable of getting off to fast starts. They led 26-10 against California Lutheran at half and against Trinity they led 7-6, but Pacific was able to control the tempo from the beginning.
To start the second half, the Boxers came out aggressive once again and scored on their first possession. Then the Lutes’ defense stepped up and forced Pacific to punt in two straight possessions as well as force a turnover.
But it was too little too late as Pacific scored one more time, giving them 34 points on the day with 444 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Warner Shaw finished the day 25-of-32 for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensively in the second half the Lutes looked much better.
Sophomore running back Mark Gallant scored a late touchdown in the fourth quarter making the score 34-7. The Lutes moved the ball up and down the field but committed two costly turnovers in the red zone that kept them from adding to their total. PLU had 287 yards of total offense and junior quarterback Jon Schaub was 19-32 with 187 yards.
On a positive note, the Lutes had 106 yards rushing compared to 0 from the week before. In addition, they only committed six penalties compared to a previous 15.
Looking ahead there’s a lot to get excited about with this young team.
Next week provides another opportunity as the Lutes take on Willamette University in a Homecoming contest at Sparks Stadium at 1 p.m.
Editor’s Note: Kellen Westering is the color-commentator for GoLutes.com. A reporter for the Mast.