Strong First Half Carries Lutes Past Whitworth, 39-21
PUYALLUP - Pacific Lutheran scored three touchdowns in the opening quarter on Saturday afternoon and carried that momentum through to a 39-21 Northwest Conference football victory over the visiting Whitworth Pirates at Sparks Stadium.
Starting a season with a 4-0 record for the first time since 2007, the Lutes, now 2-0 in the conference, made a big play on special teams and on defense to take a 19-0 lead after one period. Whitworth, meanwhile, falls to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
Kyle Whitford returned the opening kickoff 77 yards to the Whitworth 14-yard line, and after barely converting on a fourth-and-one at the 5-yard line, the Lutes scored when Whitford swept right from the 1-yard line on second down.
After the Lutes stopped Whitworth on a fourth-and-one at their own 37-yard line, they drove down the field in 10 plays, scoring on Jordan Rasmussen's 24-yard pass to Drew Griffin, making the score 12-0. The next big play came on defense when Richard Isett forced Whitworth quarterback Andrew DeFelice to fumble and Isett's teammate Colby Davies scooped up the ball and galloped 52 yards for the touchdown.
PLU increased its lead to 25-0 halfway through the second quarter, driving 88 yards in six plays, culminated by Rasmussen's 8-yard fade pass to Greg Ford in the corner of the end zone. Rasmussen hit Whitford on 44- and 17-yard passes during the drive.
Whitworth finally got on the board with 1:53 left in the half when Adam Anderson ran through a host of PLU tacklers on a 14-yard scoring run, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play meant that the Pirates had to kick off from their 15-yard line. That set up the Lutes at their own 43-yard line, and they took four plays to get in the end zone once again, this time on Rasmussen's 3-yard toss to Isaac Moog.
At the half, Rasmussen was 13-for-15 for 185 yards and three touchdowns and the Lutes had a 254-128 advantage in total yards.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, Whitworth getting on the board on Anderson's 3-yard blast. The senior tailback carried the ball six times for 37 yards on the seven-play, 50-yard drive. Anderson, the 2007 and 2008 Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year, would finish the game with 136 nets yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, one catch for eight yards, and three kickoff returns for 60 yards.
After Whitworth's touchdowns, the Lutes used a little razzle-dazzle to make the score 39-14. On a triple reverse with Rasmussen pitching to Alec Simmons, Simmons pitching to Kyle Whitford, and Whitford pitching to Ford, Ford pulled up and threw a 36-yard scoring bomb to Moog, who made a finger tip catch before falling into the end zone.
The Pirates finished the scoring in the fourth quarter, putting together their most impressive drive of the game and scoring on Taylor Eglet's 10-yard pass to Jake DeGooyer. Whitworth drove 84 yards in 13 plays before tallying with 2:39 left.
PLU ended up with a 372-321 edge in total yards, though Whitworth had more first downs 23-18) and more time of possession (33:32-26:28).
While Anderson finished with 136 rushing yards, the Pirates had a team net of only 133 yards. DeFelice and Eglet combined to complete 15-of-28 passes for 188 yards, but they took three sacks between them, two of those by PLU linebacker Steven McDonald. John Ingman had three receptions for 44 yards and DeGooyer had three catches for 37 yards.
Defensively for the Pirates, Danny Engel and Layton Brown both were in on eight tackles, and Engel had a pair of tackles for loss.
Simmons toted the ball 15 times for 72 of PLU's 122 rushing yards. Rasmussen ended up 16-for-22 for 214 yards, Moog had five receptions for 68 yards, Ford had four catches for 34 yards, and Whitford had three grabs for 77 yards.
Pacific Lutheran plays its final non-conference game of the season next Saturday when it travels to Atherton, Calif., to take on former NWC member Menlo College. Kickoff is slated for noon.
- PLU -