First Half Magic Fades Away As Boxers Fall To Menlo
FOREST GROVE – For the second straight week, Pacific saw the efforts of a well played first half slip away on Saturday night as Menlo scored the final 23 points of the game for a 23-16 come-from-behind victory over the Boxers in football action at Lincoln Park Stadium.
After pulling out to a 16-0 lead with 1:34 left in the first half, the Boxers (0-2) found themselves done in by turnovers and penalties. Pacific fumbled twice in the final 30 minutes and had all eight of their penalties in the second half for 61 yards.
"We go back to the fact that we are a young football team," said Pacific Head Coach Keith Buckley. "We have led more than we have been behind this year, but we have come up on the short end of twice. We are going to have to work on very quickly is finishing football games and doing the same things at the end of games that we have at the beginning of games."
For the second straight contest, T.C. Campbell (So., Kaimuki, Hawaii) paced the Boxers with another strong game at quarterback. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for a net 25 yards, which included runs of 18 and 20 yards in the Boxers' final drive of the game that kept the game alive.
Jordan Fukumoto (So., Mililani, Hawaii) led the Boxers in receiving, making seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Blake Anthony (Fr., Valencia, Calif.) had four catches for 80 yards, including a 44-yard strike in the first quarter. Kelson Kawai (So., North Kohala, Hawaii) had three catches for 70 yards. Davis Jacobs (So., Tigard, Ore.) led the Boxers in rushing with 28 yards on 12 carries.
Matt Pelasasa led Menlo's (2-0) passing attack, completing 21 of 37 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Robert Adan was Pelasasa's favorite target, catching seven balls for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas Reynolds led the Oaks in rushing, carrying 12 times for 50 yards.
After both teams' opening drives ended in punts, Pacific opened scoring with a four-play, 77-yard drive that was buoyed by Campbell's 44-yard reception to Anthony. Campbell completed the drive with a 25-yard scoring strike to Fukumoto that put the Boxers up 7-0.
The defenses held for the bulk of the second quarter, with the Boxers defense coming through for a score with 3:01 left in the half. After being pinned back by punter Aaron Koford (So., Wilsonville, Ore.) on their own 5-yard-line, Pelasasa was flagged for intentional grounding while trying to throw out of his own endzone. The resulting safety gave the Boxers the 9-0 lead.
A personal foul penalty on the ensuing free kick gave Pacific the ball at midfield. Campbell needed only three plays to convert a touchdown, this time finding Kawai for a 34-yard pass to give the Boxers a 16-0 lead with 1:34 left in the half.
Menlo quickly marched down the field, needing just 58 seconds to score their first touchdown in a sign of the game's shifting momentum. Pelasasa converted three passes, the longest 40 yards, before James Yoder punched in on a 2-yard run to narrow Pacific's lead to 16-7 at halftime.
The Oaks put together the game's longest drive to score their third quarter touchdown, running 15 plays over 88 yards in 5 minutes, 33 seconds. Pelasasa finished it off with an 8-yard pass to Adan that cut the lead the 16-14. The Boxers fumbled the following kickoff, but Menlo turned the ball right back over when Pelasasa was intercepted by Sam Bettencourt (Fr., Downey, Calif.) at the 1-yard line.
Pacific never had a chance to move the ball off the turnover, as they were whistled for holding in the endzone. The safety tied the contest up at 16-16 with 2:10 to go in the third. Menlo put together what would be the winning drive of the game on their first possession of the fourth quarter. Taking over at the Pacific 40-yard line, Pelasasa against went to the air to find Aden open for a 23-yard score with 13:31 left.
The Pacific defense came up big on Menlo's final drive of the game, stopping the Oaks on their own 13-yard line before seeing kicker Kevin Kurtz miss a 31-yard field goal with 6:08 to go. Campbell responded by completing five passes and making 18-yard and 20-yard rushes on third down plays to keep the Boxers alive. Pacific had three looks at the endzone and just missed hitting Kawai on fourth down as the Oaks' defense held to seal the game.
Pacific finished the night with 310 yards of total offense while Menlo finished with 308 yards. Menlo held the narrowest of edges in time of possession, controlling the ball of 30 minutes, 10 seconds.
Tim Hastie (So., Auberry, Calif.) led Pacific defensive with 6.5 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. Bryan Mills (So., Imbler, Ore.) had six tackles, including five solos. Joe Correia led Menlo with six tackles. Steven Lopes finished with 5.5 tackles and two tackles for loss, including one of Menlo's two sacks.
After playing their first two games at home, the Boxers head out on the road next weekend. Pacific plays at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday night, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Menlo will also play in the Southland next weekend as they take on Occidental.