Pacific Lutheran Takes Advantage of Turnovers to Defeat Bearcats, 41-27

Willamette Gains 445 Yards, Lutes Finish with 354 Yards

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

PUYALLUP, WASH. -- Pacific Lutheran University forced Willamette University into three turnovers, and the Lutes scored 15 points from two of the takeaways to defeat the Bearcats, 41-27, in a Northwest Conference game at Sparks Field on Saturday, Oct. 20.

PLU, which received votes in this week's national rankings, improved to 4-2 overall, 3-1 in the NWC. Willamette, ranked #19 in the AFCA Coaches Poll and #22 in the D3football.com Top 25, moved to 6-1 overall, 2-1 in the NWC.

Willamette outgained Pacific Lutheran on offense, as the Bearcats finished with 440 total yards and the Lutes achieved 354 yards. The Bearcats gained 335 yards through the air and rushed for 105 yards. PLU passed for 197 yards and rushed for 157 yards.

Neither team put points on the scoreboard in the first period. Even so, WU had a chance to gain momentum when PLU punter Conor Lien fumbled the ball for a 15-yard loss on the fourth play of the game. Cody Pastorino (Sr., S, Glenn, CA/Willows HS) of WU knocked the ball forward and recovered it, but was called for illegally batting the ball and PLU kept possession.

A few minutes later, Pacific Lutheran threatened to score after Willamette's first turnover, a fumble by Terrell Malley (Jr., HB, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) on the Bearcats' third play from scrimmage. The ball was recovered by PLU's Derrik Larsen at the WU 31. On the next play, PLU quarterback Dalton Ritchey completed a 24-yard pass to Evan Nelson.

The Bearcats kept the Lutes out of the end zone. After Brandon James ran for 4 yards on first down, Matt Parr (Sr., ILB, Lihue, HI/Kauai HS) tackled Niko Madison for a 3-yard loss at the WU 6. Two incomplete passes by Ritchey ended the threat.

Later in the opening quarter, with the Lutes at the WU 39, Ritchey was intercepted by Pastorino at the 14-yard line. Pastorino returned the ball 36 yard to midfield with 2:06 left in the period.

PLU stopped running back Dylan Jones (So., Santa Maria, CA/Ernest Righetti HS) on 4th-and-1 at the PLU 27 on the first play of the second quarter.

The Lutes drove 83 yards on eight plays to score the game's first touchdown with 10:19 left in the half. The extra point by Nick Kaylor went wide, leaving PLU in front, 6-0.

On Willamette's first play after the kickoff, a pass by Josh Dean (Jr., QB, Dana Point, CA/Dana Hills HS) was intercepted by Dalton Darmody at the WU 29 and returned 11 yards. A personal foul advanced the ball to the WU 9. On third down, Ritchey scored on a 5-yard run. Jacob Schrader kicked the PAT, giving the Lutes a 13-0 lead.

Willamette answered with a touchdown drive that covered 64 yards in 11 plays. Malley scored the touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Dean with 4:17 left in the half. The Lutes countered with a quick scoring drive after a 41-yard kickoff return by Connor Cummings. Ritchey threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Warner six plays later. A two-point conversion failed, but PLU led 19-7.

Again, the Bearcats scored quickly. They gained possession at the WU 25 with 1:33 on the clock. Dean led the team down the field, using a 21-yard pass to Derek Traeger (So., WR, Mount Angel, OR/John F. Kennedy HS), a 10-yard scramble, and a 14 yard pass to Chad Pollard (Sr., HB, Bakersfield, CA/Liberty HS/Bakersfield College) to reach the PLU 30.

A 25-yard pass to Traeger brought the ball to the 5-yard line. On the next play, Dean rushed into the end zone. A two-point conversion run by Jake Jones (Sr., QB, Wilsonville, OR/Wilsonville HS) failed following a bad snap. PLU held a 19-13 lead at halftime.

The Bearcats drove 47 yards on the first seven plays of the third quarter to reach the PLU 25. On the next play, Dean was intercepted at the 20-yard line by Taylor Angevine, who returned the ball 80 yards for a touchdown at the 11:16 mark. Dalton successfully ran for two points on the conversion, as the Lutes took a 27-13 lead.

Willamette kept battling back the rest the of the way, but couldn't catch PLU on the scoreboard. Less than three minutes after the score by Angevine, the Bearcats reached the end zone on an 8-yard run by Taylor Wyman (So., RB, Bellevue, WA/Issaquah HS). The extra point by Kyle Derby (Jr., Oakdale, CA/Oakdale HS) cut the margin to 27-20.

Madison completed a 12-play, 75-yard drive for Pacific Lutheran with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:09 remaining in the third period. WU answered with 14:20 left in the game, on a 41-yard pass from Dean to Turner that ended an 8-play, 70-yard drive. PLU's lead was seven points once again at 34-27.

The Lutes took charge of the game with a 99-yard drive that lasted 18 plays and took 9:52 off the clock. The drive included four 3rd-down conversions and one 4th-down conversion. The 4th-down play, which occurred on 4th-and-3 at the WU 16 was an 8-yard run by James. Ritchey scored two plays later on a 3-yard run.

WU drove form its own 17-yard line to the PLU 27, before an 8-yard sack on third down and an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the possession with just over a minute remaining.

Dean finished the game 26 of 40 passing for 335 yards and two touchdowns. Turner caught 4 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown. Malley hauled in 6 passes for 58 yard and also scored once. Wyman rushed fro 43 yards and a touchdown on just six carries (7.2 avg.).

Ritchey was 16 of 28 passing for 197 yards and one score for the Lutes. He also ran for three touchdowns while carrying the ball a total of 14 times for 65 yards. James added 12 carries for 47 yards. The top receiver for PLU was Warner, who grabbed 4 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.

For the third game in a row, Jack Nelson (So., ILB, Portland, OR/Jesuit HS) was Willamette's leading tackler, as he registered 10 total stops, including seven solo tackles. Nelson earned 2.5 tackles for losses and 1.5 quarterback sacks. Dominic David (Sr., S, Salem, OR/South Salem HS/Portland State Univ.) added eight tackles for WU, including six unassisted tackles.

Sean McFadden (Jr., DB) and Greg Hibbard (So., DB) each recorded nine tackles for PLU. Mychael Tuiasosopo was credited with both of PLU's sacks.

The Bearcats will play archrival Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., on Saturday, Oct. 27. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Linfield is ranked #3 in the D3football.com Top 25 and is listed at #4 in the AFCA Coaches Poll.

BOX SCORE

Pacific Lutheran University 41
Willamette University 27

Jake Turner caught 4 passes for 101 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass.

Jake Turner caught 4 passes for 101 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass.