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October 24, 2011

Lutes Preparing For Another Dynamic NWC Foe

THIS WEEK: The Pacific Lutheran University football team is back at it again this week and the schedule does not get any easier as the Lutes prepare for a game against undefeated Lewis & Clark College. Pacific Lutheran is coming off a 45-7 loss to the hands of No. 5 Linfield College. At 4-2 on the season, and 2-1 in Northwest Conference play, the Lutes may have had their post-season dreams dashed this weekend. At 6-0 on the season, the Lewis & Clark College Pioneers have gone from perennial cellar-dwellers to Northwest Conference title contenders in only a matter of a couple seasons. However, last weekend the Pioneers narrowly escaped with a 31-28 victory over winless University of Puget Sound. Saturday afternoon's matchup at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup is set to kick off at 12:30 p.m.   

SERIES HISTORY: With the series dating back to the early 1930's, there is plenty of history to note between these two programs. Pacific Lutheran and head coach Clifford Olson won the inaugural match up back in 1933 by a score of 6-0. Moving to 1947, the two teams battled to a 0-0 tie in a season that saw the Lutes finish 7-0-2. The 1960's and early 70's offered highly contested games that saw the overall series record tilt 7-5-1 in L&C's favor. However, is has been all PLU since then. Since the 1972 season, the Lutes are 30-2 against the Pioneers and are currently on a 16-game winning streak which dates back to 1990. Through 45 total, the Lutes hold the series record at 35-9-1.  

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.

WELCOME TO THE KEITH WELCH SHOW: Quarterback Keith Welch is the man that drives the explosive Pioneer offense. Coming off a successful freshman season which culminated in a first team all-conference selection, Welch makes it happen on the ground and through the air. The sophomore has passed for nearly 1,500 yards this season and is averaging nearly 90 rushing yards per game. He ranks second in the conference in both passing yards and rushing yards per game. Welch and the Pioneers are averaging 476 total yards per game and have yet to score less than 30 points in a game this season. However, the Pioneers have struggled on the other side of the ball in 2011. Defensively, Lewis & Clark is surrendering over 27 points per game which ranks third worst in the conference. Linebacker Louis Baltazar leads the Pios defense in his final season. The senior has recorded 57 tackles this season which ranks him second in the NWC.   

ABOUT THE COACHES: Scott Westering is in his eighth year as head coach at Pacific Lutheran, where he has compiled a 41-31 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. Chris Sulages is in his fifth year as the Pioneer head coach. For his first two seasons, he coached the offensive line while also serving as the football recruiting coordinator. He served as the offensive coordinator in the 2005 season. From 2001-2002, Sulages coached offensive line and tight ends at Division I-AA Cal State Northridge. In 2001, the Matadors were the #2 total offense in the nation. Sulages was a CSU-N recruiting coordinator, fitness instructor, and NCAA eligibility liaison. Sulages is a former head coach for the Prague Panthers in the Czech Republic. While coaching in Prague, his teams were the #1 rushing offense, #1 total offense and total defense in the Czech League. The Panthers made two Euro Bowl appearances and earned one national title. (Courtesy of Lewis & Clark 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.

PIONEERS LAST YEAR: After winning four of their first six games to begin the season, the Pioneers dropped their last three games to finish the season 4-5. The four wins during the 2010 season was the best output by an L&C team since the 1996 season.

LAST SEASON'S MATCH UP: Pacific Lutheran scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to rally past a much-improved Lewis & Clark team, 35-23, in a Northwest Conference football game played Saturday afternoon at Griswold Stadium. The Lutes (6-1 overall, 3-1 conference) put more points on the board, but the Pioneers (4-3, 2-2), who had won just three games over the past four seasons, piled up the offensive yardage and put a scare into the nationally ranked Lutes before falling for the 15th straight time in the series. Alec Simmons rushed for 127 yards and three touchdowns, including a 49-yarder to open the scoring and a 16-yarder to ice the win late in the fourth period, to lead the Lutes. PLU finished with 207 net rushing yards and added 212 through the air for a total of 419 yards on 56 plays, an average of 7.5 yards per play. Lewis & Clark, meanwhile, ran for 275 yards and passed for 203 more for a total of 478 yards. Quarterback Keith Welch had 114 yards rushing on 26 carries and also completed 12-of-31 passes for 203 yards with two interceptions. The game entered the fourth quarter with the Pioneers leading 23-22. In the final period, however, the Lutes played tough defense and came up with some timely plays on offense. They capped an 82-yard drive on a 50-yard scoring pass from Jordan Rasmussen to Greg Ford to make it 28-23 with 9:23 left. After the Pioneers missed a 37-yard field goal try, PLU went 79 yards to score on a 16-yard burst by Simmons. PLU frosh safety Sean McFadden intercepted a pass in the end zone on Lewis & Clark's next possession, and the Lutes rank out the clock. Simmons opened the scoring just 2:21 into the game, racing 49 yards to give his team a 7-0 lead. Lewis & Clark scored the next 10 points on Simon Monley's 17-yard field goal, capping a 77-yard drive, and on Riley Mitchell's 28-yard interception return. Kyle Burbridge returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to the Lewis & Clark 11-yard line, and the Lutes scored two plays later on an eight-yard run by Simmons. The hosts added 22- and 40-yard field goals by Monley in the second period to take a 16-14 advantage at the intermission. PLU made it 22-16 on Rasmussen's six-yard pass to Isaac Moog, followed by a Tyler Bowen two-point conversion run, but the Pioneers regained the lead at 23-22, putting together a seven-minute, 16-play drive, capped by Keith Ward's one-yard run. That set up the Lutes' comeback in the final 15 minutes. Rasmussen was 17-for-26 for 212 yard wtih two touchdowns and one interception, and Ford, initially not expected to play because of a foot injury, caught six passes for 118 yards. McFadden had a pair of interceptions and also led the PLU defense with 12 total tackles. Linebacker Adam Schwander added 10 tackles.

LINFIELD 45, PLU 7: Linfield rolled up a big margin in total yards and took advantage of four Pacific Lutheran turnovers in running past the Lutes, 45-7, in a Northwest Conference football game played Saturday afternoon at Maxwell Field. In beating PLU for the 10th straight time, the longest winning streak in the series, the fifth-ranked Wildcats improved their overall record to 6-0 and their conference mark to 4-0. They also took another major step toward their third consecutive NWC title. Pacific Lutheran, meanwhile, suffered its second loss of the season against four wins, and it is now 2-1 in the conference. Linfield wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, intercepting a pass on PLU's first play of the game and driving 43 yards in five plays, capping the short-field drive on a 20-yard pass from Mickey Inns to Lucas Jepson. Just 1:43 into the game, Linfield held a 7-0 lead. Pacific Lutheran's second possession ended like the first when Zack Halverson was intercepted for the second time, though the PLU defense forced Linfield to punt. After PLU gave the ball back following a three-and-out, Linfield drove 50 yards to score on Josh Hill's 5-yard run, making the score 14-0. The 'Cats added Josh Kay's 32-yard field goal and Taylor Skore's 23-yard touchdown run to take a 24-0 lead into the halftime break. Any hope of the PLU comeback pretty much ended on Linfield's opening possession of the third quarter when it drove 68 yards on seven plays, scoring on Hill's 11-yard run. The hosts added two more touchdowns on 6- and 5-yard passes from Mickey Inns to Buddy Saxon, to take a 45-0 lead just 14 seconds into the final period. The Lutes got a bit of redemption late in the fourth period, driving 80 yards on 12 plays and scoring on Daniel Herr's 1-yard sweep around end. Linfield dominated the game in every offensive category with 25 first downs and 460 total yards on 81 plays to 12 first downs and 183 yards on 59 plays for the Lutes. Hill carried 18 times for 100 yards to lead Linfield's ground game, and quarterbacks Mickey Inns and Josh Yoder combined to complete 26-of-37 passes for 326 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Jepson had six catches for 85 yards and 11 different players caught at least one pass each. Brandon James led the PLU ground game with 45 yards on 12 carries, and Halverson ended up 16-for-30 passing for 137 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Herr had four catches for 33 yards to lead the Lutes in that category. Steven McDonald was in on 12 tackles and recovered a fumble to lead the PLU defense, which also got 11 tackles, including two for loss, from TJ Suek. Erik Magnussen had two quarterback sacks among his 10 tackles, and the Lutes finished the game with six quarterback sacks for a total of 52 yards in losses.