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October 24, 2009

Lutes Take Advantage of Puget Sound Turnovers, 35-13

PUYALLUP - Pacific Lutheran made two huge goal-line stands and took advantage of six Puget Sound turnovers in garnering a 35-13 Northwest Conference football victory at Sparks Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With the victory, their 21st in the last 22 meetings between the schools, the Lutes improve to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the Northwest Conference. Despite out-gaining the Lutes by nearly 100 total yards, the turnover-prone Loggers drop to 0-6 for the season and 0-3 in the conference.

PLU scored on their first two possessions - both coming after Puget Sound turnovers - to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The first score came on a 20-yard pass from Jordan Rasmussen to Isaac Moog and capped a four-play, 51-yard drive following a fumble recovery. On Puget Sound's next possession, Lutes linebacker Tim Cumming intercepted a Kavin Williams pass that had been tipped into the air by Bryan Neumiller. The Lutes started their drive on their own 40-yard line and drove 60 yards in nine plays. Cody Pohren scored his first of two touchdowns on a 2-yard run.

After that, the Loggers dominated the second quarter, rolling up 206 first-half rushing yards. All they had to show for it, however, was Casey Larson's 3-yard touchdown run that capped a 72-yard drive in six plays. Earlier, they drove all the way to the PLU 1-yard line before the Lutes got the ball back with a goal-line stand. Trevor Fox stuffed Kavin Williams for no gain on fourth down to end that drive. The next time that UPS had the ball it fumbled at the PLU 14-yard line. The half ended with another stop by the PLU defense at the goal-line, this time Andy Sturza getting into the backfield to stop Williams for a one-yard loss on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

At the intermission, UPS had possessed the ball for 20 minutes compared to just 10 for the Lutes and they also had 17 first downs and 264 yards to just seven first downs and 142 yards for the hosts.

Fortunately for the Lutes, the Loggers continued to have trouble holding onto the ball in the second half. Of their five second-half possessions, the Loggers turned the ball over once on an interception by PLU's Andy Sturza and twice more on fumbles. The Lutes turned all three of those turnovers into touchdowns, driving 61 yards, 34 yards and 60 yards for the scores.

In the third quarter, Rasmussen hooked up with Drew Griffin on a 4-yard scoring toss, and in the fourth period Rasmussen found Nick Caraballo in the back of the end zone on a 17-yard aerial. Pohren added his second touchdown and PLU's final score on a 3-yard run with 3:56 remaining.

After that, the Loggers drove 61 yards in six plays to score on a 1-yard pass from reserve quarterback Spencer Crace to Ross Zuhl.

The Loggers finished with 413 total yards, including 260 on the ground. Quarterback Kavin Williams rushed 20 times for 134 yards and Larson added 102 yards on 22 carries. Williams and Crace combined to compelte 18-for-26 passing for 167 yards with an interception apiece. Zuhl led his team with seven receptions for 60 yards.

For the Lutes, Rasmussen was 17-for-26 for 176 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, and AJ Palazzolo was 3-for-5 for 25 yards before injuring his knee in the second quarter. Kyle Whitford led the PLU receivers with six catches for 61 yards. Rasmussen led the PLU ground game with 10 carries for 49 yards, most of those coming on scrambles. Pohren added 37 yards on six carries.

The Lutes finished the game with 319 net yards, and after trailing in time of possession by 10 minutes at the half managed to narrow that margin to just two minutes by the end of the game.

Damarkus Milner had 11 tackles and Tyler Vlasak chipped in with nine to lead the Loggers, while Lawrence Woods III had 10 tackles and Sturza nine more for the Lutes.

Pacific Lutheran returns to action next Saturday when it travels to Spokane to take on the Whitworth Pirates in another Northwest Conference contest.