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October 3, 2011

Lutes Look To Spoil Whitworth Homecoming

THIS WEEK: The Pacific Lutheran University football team travels to Spokane, Wash. this weekend to take on the Whitworth University Pirates as Northwest Conference play continues. With a record of 2-1 on the season, the Lutes come into this weekend's game on the tails of a 21-7 victory over the University of Puget Sound. At 1-3 on the season, Whitworth will be opening its NWC campaign this week. Last week, the Bucs were idle with a bye. Saturday's homecoming game in Spokane, Wash. will be played in the Whitworth Pine Bowl. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.

FOLLOW THE LUTES: You can listen to PLU football action throughout the year in the Tacoma area on KLAY 1180 AM with Steve Thomas and Karl Hoseth calling the action. The broadcasts are also available online on the KLAY website (www.klay1180.com). Additionally, listeners can access the PLU football broadcasts on the PLU athletics website at www.golutes.com, then clicking on Listen Live and following the link.

STREAMING LIVE: Whitworth University will stream the live local TV broadcast of Saturday's game.  You can find the video link here, along with live stats and live audio.  http://www.whitworth.edu/Athletics/Teams/Football/StreamingVideo/Index.htm.

SHARING THE WEALTH: A total of ten Lute receivers caught passes from quarterback Zack Halverson this weekend in the win over Puget Sound. On that day, the balanced receiving core grabbed 17 balls for 211 yards. Senior Tyler Bowen led PLU with three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. This season, Halverson has linked up with 15 different Pacific Lutheran receivers in the team's first three games. 

NATIONAL POLLS: With the win last week over UPS, the Lutes continue to inch closer to being inside the national Top 25 rankings. This week, Pacific Lutheran has received 20 votes in d3football.com's weekly poll. Although the Lutes have not accumulated enough votes to break into the Top 25 rankings, they are on the cusp of cracking the poll. To view the full Top 25 poll, click here.  

SCOUTING WHITWORTH: At 1-3 through the team's first four games, Whitworth has experienced some growing pains in 2011. With a relatively young team, the Pirates are still searching for their identity. Freshman tandem Zac Hill and Bryan Peterson have shared time at the quarterback position this year. Peterson, who has seen the majority of the snaps, has accumulated 526 passing yards and five touchdowns thus far. Receiver Jake DeGooyer has emerged as Peterson's favorite target this season. The junior has caught 24 balls for 351 yards. The Pirates greatest strength may be on the ground this season. The Bucs O-line returns all five starters from 2010. Junior college transfer Ronnie Thomas has carried the work load for the Pirates in 2011. The junior ranks fourth in the NWC with 94.8 yards on the ground per game.

SERIES HISTORY: Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth have met 66 times dating back to 1931. The Lutes hold a 47-19 record overall in the series. However, the Pirates have won six out of the last seven meetings between the two teams. From 1966 to 2000, PLU dominated Whitworth year in and year out as the Lutes won 32 straight games over the Bucs.

ABOUT THE COACHES: Scott Westering is in his eighth year as head coach at Pacific Lutheran, where he has compiled a 37-29 overall record. Scott joined the PLU coaching staff in 1981 after playing tight end for the Lutes under his father, Frosty Westering. Scott served as the Lutes' offensive coordinator from 1983-2003, 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. John Tully is the winningest and longest-serving football coach in Whitworth history, John Tully will lead the Pirates onto the gridiron for the 17th year in the Fall of 2011. Tully has a record of 116-89 in 21 seasons as a head football coach, 16 of which have been at Whitworth. Over the course of his tenure coaching the Bucs, Tully has made the team an annual Northwest Conference title contender. During his tenure, Tully has led Whitworth to three Northwest Conference titles and two NCAA Division III playoff appearances, and has also earned three NWC Coach of the Year awards. He won his first conference title with the Pirates during the 2001 season. In 2006, the 100th year of football at Whitworth, the Bucs posted a perfect regular season (10-0) on the way to an 11-1 record and an appearance in the second round of the national playoffs. They followed that up with a second straight conference title in 2007 and an 8-2 overall record. Whitworth also came close to making postseason in 2002, 2004 and 2005. (Courtesy of Whitworth Sports Information)

LUTES LAST YEAR: Pacific Lutheran finished with an 8-1 overall record in 2010. The Lutes were 5-1 in the Northwest Conference, good for second place behind Linfield, but were not extended an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III national playoffs.

PIRATES LAST YEAR: With an overall record of 5-5 in the 2010 season, Whitworth finished in the fourth spot in the NWC.

LAST YEAR'S MATCHUP: 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. Adam Schwander led PLU with nine tackles, followed by Erik Magnussen with eight and Michael Warsaw, Cameron McMillan, Jordan Davison and McDonald with seven each.

PLU 21, UPS 7: Pacific Lutheran scored a touchdown in each of the final three quarters and kept Puget Sound off the scoreboard until the closing minutes Saturday in picking up a 21-7 Northwest Conference football win at Sparks Stadium. The win was the 23rd for the Lutes in the last 24 games in the series against the Loggers. It came in the conference opener for both teams, and as a result the Lutes are now 2-1 for the season and 1-0 in the NWC. Puget Sound falls to 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference. After a sloppily played first quarter in which they turned the ball over once on a fumble and twice via interception, the Lutes finally got untracked on offense. Starting late in the quarter and going into the second period, PLU drove 80 yards on 10 plays before quarterback Zack Halverson hit wide receiver Tyler Bowen with a 4-yard scoring pass. The Lutes lost another good scoring chance on the next possession when they fumbled the ball at the UPS 1-yard line following a 23-yard pass play. While the Lutes struggled on offense in the early going, the PLU defense was staunch, not allowing Puget Sound more than four plays in a possession until midway through the second quarter. That nine-play, 70-yard drive ended when the Loggers turned the ball over on downs. The PLU defense set the tone early, shutting down any semblance of a Puget Sound running game and forcing the visitors to put the ball in the air 49 times compared to just 20 rushes during the contest. In fact, starting on a possession with 2:54 left in the third period and going to the end of the game, the Loggers ran 22 plays, all passes, though two of them ended in sacks and thus counted as rushes. Pacific Lutheran made the score 14-0 at the 10:22 mark of the third quarter, taking the opening kick and driving 64 yards on seven plays. capped by a 7-yard scoring burst around the right side by Brandon James. The sophomore running back gained 83 yards on 14 carries to lead a PLU ground game that compiled 184 nets yards on 43 carries. The Lutes made it 21-0 with 7:52 remaining in the game on a 1-yard touchdown run by Niko Madison, who added 39 rushing yards on six carries. Puget Sound got its only score with 38 seconds left, culminating an eight-play, 55-yard drive on George Ka'ai's 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Rogers. Despite turning the ball over four times, the Lutes accumulated 395 yards of total offense, including 211 passing yards by Halverson. He threw to 10 different receivers, led by Bowen and Andrew Carlson with three catches apiece. Defensively, Steven McDonald finished the game with seven tackles, including a pair of sacks for 12 yards, and a forced fumble. Mychael Tuiasosopo had a quarterback sack and a fumble recover to go along with five tackles, and Justin Whitman finished with five tackles, two for losses totaling eight yards, and an interception in the end zone. As a team, the Lutes piled up five quarterback sacks and six pass deflections. Ka'ai finished the game throwing for 326 yards, completing 26 of his 48 attempts. Adam Kniffin had 10 receptions for 128 yards and Thiesen Chang added nine grabs for 96 yards. The Puget Sound running game was virtually nonexistent with seven net yards on 20 attempts. Linebackers Tyler Vlasak and Cody Petro-Sakuma were all over the field for the Loggers, notching 13 and 12 tackles, respectively. Vlasak also had one of the team's two interceptions.