Guarding against overconfidence can be a tricky proposition, even in a crosstown rivalry that has spanned over eight decades. That thought had crossed the mind of Pacific Lutheran coach Scott Westering as his 16th-ranked Lutes prepared to face the University of Puget Sound – which has managed to win only one game in the past three years. But PLU found their niche in the second half, and cruised to a 41-21 win on Nov. 2 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
The game was tied 7-7 at the half, and the Loggers took a 14-7 lead on Kupono Park’s one-yard touchdown run after the Lutes fumbled a punt attempt at their own 15-yard line two plays earlier. But Pacific Lutheran quarterback Dalton Ritchey engineered three consecutive scoring drives to respond, and the Lutes would coast from there in the 88th renewal of the Tacoma rivalry.
“(Puget Sound) always does a few different things, but give our defense a lot of credit for the win in this one,” said Lutes head coach Scott Westering, whose squad won its fourth consecutive Northwest Conference game to up their league record to 4-1 (7-1 overall).
Ritchey began to find his rhythm in the second half, tying the game 14-14 midway through the third quarter when he hit Kyle Warner with a 19-yard touchdown pass to cap a 69-yard drive in just five plays. PLU would take the lead for good when Jordan Patterson recovered Logger quarterback Braden Foley’s fumble at the UPS 25-yard line, and Niko Madison scored from three yards out five plays later.
“Our staff made some good adjustments at the half and it was crucial in the final outcome,” Westering said. “I’m happy with the way that we finished offensively.”
The Lutes would then kick it into another gear, as Ritchey scored on a seven-yard run on the next drive, and added touchdown runs of five and two yards in the fourth quarter.
Foley connected with Peter Bell on a 45-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter for the Loggers.
Ritchey finished 16-for-28 for 196 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception, and added 18 carries for 70 yards and three scores. Patterson led the defensive effort for the Lutes with 10 total tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.
“We did a lot better job of controlling the tempo of the game, and the football, too, in the second half,” said Westering, who is hoping for an invitation to the Division III playoffs. “You never know what they are thinking at D-3 headquarters, but let’s hope they are thinking of us when hopefully we take care of business against Whitworth next weekend.”
The Lutes will travel to face Whitworth on Nov. 9 at 1 p.m., while the Loggers will travel to conference-leading Linfield on Nov. 9 at 1 p.m.