Sept. 8, 2007

PLU Football Opens 2007 With Resounding 48-17 Win


THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Each of the past two seasons, the Pacific Lutheran football team has gotten off to a slow start that has affected the remainder of the season. Such was not the case on Saturday as the Lutes made the most of seven Cal Lutheran turnovers to take a resounding 48-17 season-opening win at Mt. Clef Stadium.

It was total domination for the Lutes, who came up one yard shy of doubling Cal Lutheran's total yardage total. PLU netted 497 yards to just 249 for the Kingsmen, and it was in the rushing category that the Lutes really had their way as they gained 239 yards while limiting the hosts to minus five yards. PLU, which averaged more than three turnovers per game over the past two seasons, turned the ball over just once, that on a tipped end zone interception.

The Lutes jumped out to a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns following Cal Lutheran turnovers. First, senior safety Evan Bratz made the first of his two interceptions and returned the ball to the Kingsmen 11-yard line. On third down, Anthony Canger swept in for a 7-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing possession, Cal Lutheran quarterback Jericho Toilolo fumbled the snap and Andy Holden fell on the ball for PLU. Lute quarterback Brett Gordon capped a four-play, 31-yard drive with a 21-yard keeper for the score.

After a Cal Lutheran field goal made the score 14-3, the Lutes scored a pair of second quarter touchdowns through the air. First, Gordon hit Chase Reed with a 23-yard score to cap a 67-yard drive, and then he connected with Craig Chiado on a 33-yard score, again following a CLU fumble recovered by Robert Thomsen.

The Kingsmen cut their deficit to 27-10 on a third quarter touchdown pass, but the Lutes responded with their best drive of the day for another score. Jacob Schonau-Taylor's one-yard run capped an 83-yard, 15-play drive that consumed 7:49 of the clock.

Yet another Cal Lutheran fumble led to the next Lutes' score, that coming on another one-yard plunge by Schonau-Taylor. The Lutes finished their scoring on a seven-yard run by freshman Kainoa Carlson, that set up when Kelly Morgan went 58 yards on his first collegiate carry.

The Kingsmen closed out the scoring with a touchdown in the waning seconds.

Canger led PLU's running game with 87 yards on 15 carries, while Gordon completed 22-of-36 passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Chiado was Gordon's favorite target as he finished with nine catches for 118 yards, though Reed was close behind with seven catches for 84 yards.

Defensively, the Lutes got a strong performance from Thomsen, a senior defensive end who had 3.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback sack among his team-high nine total tackles. Thomsen also recovered two fumbles. Neal Chalmers, Jeff Ebel and Matt Wolford all had five tackles, and Bratz had two of the Lutes' three interceptions.

Pacific Lutheran, which had lost four games in a row to start 2005 and three in a row to start last season, also ended a two-game losing streak to Cal Lutheran. The Lutes return to action next Saturday when they travel to the midwest to face Wisconsin-River Falls.

- PLU -