TACOMA, Wash. — TACOMA, Wash. – Pacific worked
through some first half jitters in the program's first game
in 19 years Saturday, settling down to play a strong second half in
a 36-19 loss to Puget Sound in non-conference football action at
Peyton Field at Baker Stadium.
After giving up 26 points to the Loggers (1-0) in the first 20 minutes, the Boxers tightened up on defense, allowing just 10 points the rest of the way. Jon Lee made the new program's first score, connecting on a 26-yard second quarter field goal, one of four made on the day. Taylor Hickson scored the team's first touchdown on 32-yard pass from Matt Alteri with 1:21 left in the game.
Despite the score and the rough first half start, the Boxers (0-1) found plenty of good things to take into their first bye week. Pacific netted 377 total yards of offense, including 342 yards passing, to Puget Sound's 355. The Boxers also led the game in time of possession (36 minutes), first downs (24) and passing yards (342).
Head Coach Keith Buckley said that despite the slow start, he saw a lot of things in the game that are encouraging for the young group. "No matter how hard you practice, game speed is game speed. It took us a while to figure out exactly what our game speed was," Buckley said. "Once we got that figured out, we saw things on both sides of the ball that gave us promise."
Puget Sound had built a 20-0 lead before Lee scored Pacific's first points on the most unusual of field goals. The Pacific holder found himself unable to handle a bad snap, leaving Lee to kick the ball horizontally. The former soccer player put it through with relative ease to the Boxers on the board, 20-3, with 13:23 left in the half. Lee would go on to hit a 32-yarder later in the quarter, a 23-yard strike in the third quarter and a 34-yard kick three minutes into the fourth quarter.
Hickson earned his place in the Pacific record books with 1:21 left in the game when Alteri found him for a 32-yard scoring reception to earn the new team's first touchdown. The score capped a six-play, 83-yard drive, Pacfiic's longest scoring drive of the game.
The touchdown capped a solid day for Pacific's receiving corps, which saw 10 guys rack up 342 yards. "The receiving corps as a group played quite well," Buckley said. "There were a number of guys we wanted to get out there and all of them showed that they were ready to play."
Puget Sound needed just one minute, 11 seconds to put the first score up on the board. After a 70-yard kickoff return by Brian Marshall, Kapuno Park punched in on a 12-yard run on just the second play from scrimmage, giving the Loggers the 7-0 lead.
After Pacific went three-and-out on their first series, Puget Sound found the end zone again on a two-yard run from Casey Larson, capping a 76-yard drive that put the Loggers up 13-0 just six minutes into the contest. The Loggers then turned a Pacific offensive miscue into their third first quarter touchdown. Micah Marter recovered Davis Jacobs' fumble at the Pacific two-yard line, leading to a one-yard pass from Duncan White to Adam Kniffin for a 20-0 advantage.
Thiesen Chang notched Puget Sound's fourth touchdown of the half on a 24-yard pass play from White at the 8:26 mark, and then added a 30-yard field goal with 6:55 to go to put the Loggers up 29-3. Lee followed with his 32-yard field goal with 2:10 left, closing Pacific's gap to 29-6 at halftime.
The Pacific defense clamped down on the Loggers in the third quarter, limiting the home team to just seven yards rushing. Despite the strong effort, the Boxers continued to have difficulty finding the end zone. Lee opened second half scoring with his third field goal, a 23-yarder that made it 29-9.
On their next series, the Boxers had the ball at the Puget Sound 8-yard-line, but a penalty and a sack pushed the ball back to the 27-yard-line. Quarterback P.J. Minaya saw his next pass intercepted, but the Boxers' defense held the Loggers to a three-and-out series.
The Loggers broke a 32-minute scoreless draught with 9:25 to go when John Martino found Luka Diesing on a 22-yard pass play that put Puget Sound up 36-12.
Jordan Fukumoto led Pacific offensively with 99 receiving yards, while Gunther Schultze finished with 44 rushing yards on eight carries. Chang led Puget Sound with 94 receiving yards, while Larson rushed for 55 yard on 10 carries.
Defensively, Chris Santiago, Phil Tolley and Mike Smith each had three tackles. Tyler Vlazak came up with eight tackles for Puget Sound, including one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Pacific enjoys a bye week next week before taking the field in front of the home crowd for the first time in 19 years. The Boxers will host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Sat., Sept. 18, 1:30 p.m., at Lincoln Park Stadium. Puget Sound returns to action next Saturday at Occidental.