Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tacoma champions: football team bests Loggers, again

By Steven McGrain, Sports Reporter

The Lutes scored 35 unanswered points against Puget Sound Saturday en route to a 41-14 victory.

The win spoiled the Loggers’ homecoming and pushed the Lutes’ winning streak over their cross-town foes to seven.

Sophomore running back Niko Madison outruns a posse of Puget Sound defenders in Saturday’s 41-14 win. Madison finished with 61 yards on seven carries including two touchdowns.. Photo by Jesse Major.

“This team has done a remarkable job at truly competing against our best selves,” senior captain Erik Hoium said. He added the goal every week is “to get better and compete at a higher level. With that as the constant goal, it’s impossible to overlook anybody.”

The Loggers have not won a Northwest Conference  game and have been outscored 368-154 — including Saturday’s loss to the Lutes.

The quick-striking Pacific Lutheran offense did not find its rhythm until the second quarter. Each time the Loggers would score, the Lutes were quick to respond with a touchdown of their own.

Sophomore quarterback Dalton Ritchey connected with sophomore wide receiver Kyle Warner for a 42-yard touchdown and senior running back Brandon James from four yards out.

The first half ended in a 14-14 tie. In the second half, the Lutes’ offensive line drove the Loggers off the line of scrimmage. Three of the four second half touchdowns for the Lutes came on the ground.

Sophomore running back Niko Madison scored twice and senior fullback Cody Pohren found the end zone from two yards out.  Sophomore defensive lineman Doug Sullivan scooped up a Puget Sound fumble and scored from 35 yards out.

The members of the offensive line are sophomore Zach Phelps, sophomore Tevon Stephens-Brown, senior Court Knoblauch, junior Chris Edison and senior Kyle Hofmann. The Lutes finished the game with 262 total rushing yards.

“They were crucial in our run efforts,” Madison said of the offensive line. “Props to them for getting the push up front that we needed to get some big runs in the second half.” The running backs averaged a season high 5.7 yards per carry on Saturday.

After the Lutes’ defense gave up two touchdowns in the second quarter, they shut out the Loggers in the second half. Puget Sound’s sophomore quarterback Braden Foley had a tough day against the Lutes, completing 45 percent of his passes for 157 yards and three interceptions.

Juniors Sean McFadden and Ben Kaestner recorded two interceptions while sophomore cornerback Connor Cummings added the third. McFadden also led the team with nine tackles.

The defense was able to disrupt Foley with five sacks.

“In the beginning it was apparent they had come to play, but we knew we had a lot more football to be played,” senior defensive end Thomas Haney said. “The scoreboard would take care of itself at the end if we made plays our defense is capable of.”

Tomorrow is the last home game at Sparks Stadium against the Whitworth Pirates. The Pirates come into the weekend in third place with a record of 6-2, 2-2.

All seniors on the PLU roster will be recognized for their participation in football program.

Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m.