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September 15, 2009

Lutes Visit ELCA Rival California Lutheran

THIS WEEK: In a battle of universities that are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), California Lutheran (0-1) will host Pacific Lutheran (0-1) in a non-conference game, Saturday, 1 p.m.

THE SERIES: Saturday's contest will mark the 15th meeting between the schools' football programs (the Lutes hold the 8-6 series advantage), in an intermittent series that dates back to a 20-8 California Lutheran victory in 1967. The Kingsmen won the first three meetings against the Lutes - then coached by Roy E. Carlson - in the late 1960s and 1971. The 1972 season introduced a new era of PLU football, as Frosty Westering took the helm and guided the Lutes to a 31-9 win over the Kingsmen. Coach Frosty had a 6-0 lifetime record at PLU against California Lutheran, his final victory being a 49-7 win during the 2000 campaign. The schools reprised the series in 2004, and have played in each of the past five seasons, with Cal Lutheran taking three of the five contests.

LAST YEAR: California Lutheran limited Pacific Lutheran to 186 yards of total offense, including only 50 in the second half, to beat the host Lutes, 16-7, at Sparks Stadium. The Kingsmen broke a 7-7 halftime deadlock with a trio of third quarter field goals from Jackson Damron to defeat the Lutes. Damron, a freshman, kicked field goals of 24, 24 and 29 yards in the third quarter to give the Kingsmen all the points they would need. Pacific Lutheran scored in the first period on a 16-yard pass from senior quarterback Michael Byrne to sophomore wide receiver Greg Ford. Byrne was forced from the game in the second quarter, however, by the same right shoulder injury that took him out of the Lutes' season-opening defeat at St. Olaf last Saturday. Until that point, Byrne was 4-for-8 for 63 yards, but from that point the Lutes had trouble sustaining drives against the aggressive Cal Lutheran defense. The Lutes almost snuck back into the game halfway through the final quarter when defensive end Nick Edwards picked up a Kingsmen fumble and returned it to the Cal Lutheran 5-yard line, but he was stripped of the ball and the visitors recovered. Cal Lutheran finished the game with 355 total yards while maintaining ball possession for more than 35 minutes to PLU's 25 minutes.

ABOUT CALIFORNIA LUTHERAN: California Lutheran University, founded in 1959, boasts an enrollment of 3,500 students. The football team finished 7-2 last season, with a 5-1 record in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that was good for second place.

LAST WEEK: St. Olaf rushed for 298 yards and quarterback John Haberman threw four touchdown passes on a hot Saturday afternoon as the visiting Oles defeated Pacific Lutheran, 46-7, in the Lutes' season opener. With game-time temperatures in the mid 80s and the field turf hotter than that, the Lutes fell behind 14-0 after the first nine minutes of their season opener and never could get back into the game against the Oles, who improved their record to 2-0. The 46 points allowed was the most given up by a Pacific Lutheran team in a season opener in the program's history. On the other side of the ball, the PLU offense ended the game with negative 79 rushing yards, 66 of them coming on three shotgun formation snaps that went over the head of the quarterback, including one that resulted in a safety. Leon Clark, who compiled 166 of St. Olaf's rushing total, scored on a 4-yard run three minutes into the second half to give his team a 30-0 advantage after the extra point try sailed wide left. Pacific Lutheran scored its only points on a 63-yard catch-and-run from AJ Palazzolo to Greg Ford, who adjusted to the slightly underthrown ball and then raced into the end zone. The Oles finished the game with 463 total yards compared to just 104 for the Lutes. PLU netted 183 passing yards, including a 12-of-26 performance for 145 yards by Palazzolo, but the inability to establish a running game prevented the Lutes from keeping possession of the ball for any significant length of time. PLU, playing without four starters because of illness and injury, turned the ball over four times, three by fumble, and St. Olaf enjoyed enjoyed a 41 minute to 19 minute possession advantage.

THE KINGSMEN LAST WEEK: The defending Northwest Conference Champion Willamette Bearcats got out to a 20-3 lead and held on despite a late California Lutheran push to earn the victory, 20-13. Brian Stuart rushed for 140 yards for CLU, but Willamette wide receiver Scott Shoettgen finished the game with five receptions for 191 yards, including an 86-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter. Deon Horne rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries for the Bearcats.

KINGSMEN PREVIEW: California Lutheran will have a lot of new faces in key roles this year, but one player the Lutes have become familiar with is senior quarterback Jericho Toilolo, in his third year as the starter. Toilolo has thrown for 22 touchdowns and ten interceptions in two seasons behind center for the Kingsment. Always a threat on the ground, Toilolo rushed 18 times in the Kingsmen season opener. Brian Stuart will serve as starting running back, rushing 20 times for 140 yards in Saturday's contest. Christian Edwards and Matt O'Brien were the two leading receivers among a group of five players who caught passes against Willamette. The Kingsmen gave up passing yards and 199 rushing yards in their first game.

ABOUT THE COACHES: Scott Westering is in his sixth years as head coach at Pacific Lutheran, where he has compiled a 23-23 overall record. Scott joined the PLU coaching staff in 1981 after playing tight end for the Lutes under his father, Frosty Westering. Since 1983, Scott has served as the Lutes' offensive coordinator, helping PLU to two NAIA Division II and one NCAA Division III national championships, as well as four runner-up finishes. He has coached 11 first-team All-Americans, including the 1999 NCAA Division III Player of the Year, Chad Johnson. Scott was a captain and All-American tight end on the 1980 PLU team that won the Lutes' first NAIA national championship. He was inducted into the PLU Hall of Fame in 1998. For the Kingsmen, Head Coach Ben McEnroe, a 1993 Cal Lutheran graduate, returns for his third season with a 12-6 record at the university.

LUTES ON THE AIR: All Pacific Lutheran football games may be heard in the Puget Sound area on KLAY 1180 AM with Steve Thomas calling the action and Karl Hoseth handling the color commentary. The games may also be heard online at www.klay1180.com.

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