TACOMA, Wash. – P.J. Minaya's (Jr., Waipahu, Hawaii) 276 yards of passing offense led Pacific to their best scoring day in 82 years Saturday as the Boxers clear cut Puget Sound 62-21 in Northwest Conference football action at Baker Stadium.
The 62 points scored by the Boxers were the most since a 62-0 shutout of Albany College (now known as Lewis & Clark) back in 1930. It also marks just the fourth time in program history that Pacific has crossed the 60-point plateau. Meanwhile, the Boxers' 526 yards of total offense and 250 rushing yards were the most since the program was reinstated for the 2010 season.
The win gives Head Coach Keith Buckley his first multi-win season since the program's reinstatement. It also marks the second time the Boxers (2-3, 1-1 NWC) have beat the Loggers (0-5, 0-2) in four meetings in that span.
"Especially after last week and having such a close loss, to come back and play with the confidence and the execution that we had and knew that we were capable of was great to see," Buckley said.
Minaya completed 25 of 30 passes for 276 yards, throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for a fifth. Caleb Roher (So., Gresham, Ore.) caught four balls for 41 yards and two touchdowns while Jakob Lawrence (So., Sherwood, Ore.) caught six passes for 77 yards. Bobby Ladiges (So., Escalon, Calif.) led the rushing attack with 70 yards on 15 carries. Gunther Schultze (Jr., Bellflower, Calif.) carried eight times for 53 yards.
Buckley said he was pleased with the veteran poise that Minaya showed on the field. "You can't ever turn down 25 of 30. That's a very efficient game," Buckley said. "He didn't put himself into any bad positions whatsoever. Instead of trying to force the ball to some receivers he ran it instead. It was a great confidence building game for him."
The Boxers held the Puget Sound offense, which came into the game averaging 436 yards per game, to 338 yards of total offense. Quarterback James Korn completed 32 of 57 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns and was intercepted once. Receiver Adam Kniffin was limited to 103 yards on 12 catches and scored two of the Loggers' three touchdowns.
"We knew that they were going to throw the ball 60 to 70 times. That is the way they operate," Buckley said of the defensive game plan. "We have not been stellar against the pass and this was a big test for us. We held them to 5 of 16 on third down, which is something we have worked on. The guys came big and made the plays on the back end when we needed to."
Pacific earned their first drive of the game on defensive stop as Josh Brinkworth (So., Elk Grove, Calif.) forced Kniffin to fumble on the Logger's second play from scrimmage. Craig Bailey (Jr., Fairfield, Calif.) recovered the ball, the first of a pair of big plays the cornerback would have on the afternoon, at the Puget Sound 44-yard line. The Boxers closed the drive with a 28-yard Moses Villareal-Gomez (So., Stockton, Calif.) field goal for the early 3-0 lead.
The Boxers forced the Loggers to three-and-out on their next series, and Minaya needed just five plays to march the team 61 yards for the touchdown. Minaya took it to the end zone himself on a 13-yard run to make it a 10-0 lead with 8:14 left in the first.
Puget Sound scored their lone first half points on a pair of a big plays. Kevin Miller returned a punt 64 yards to give the Loggers first down on the Pacific 26-yard line, and Korn followed with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Rogers to make it a 10-7 game.
Pacific all but put the game away with four touchdowns in the second quarter. Minaya found Roher for a four-yard scoring pass to extended the lead to 17-7 with a minute gone. After another three-and-out for the Loggers, Pacific needed just four plays to strike paydirt again with Minaya finding Jason Smith (Fr., Black Diamond, Wash.) for a 48-yard bomb that made it 24-7 with 10:52 left in the half.
Bailey followed with the Boxers' first defensive touchdown of the season, returning his interception Korn 38 yards for the score. Puget Sound fell victim to another three-and-out on their ensuing drive, and the Boxers responded with their fourth touchdown of the quarter. Pacific needed 1:21 to go 46 yards with Minaya finding Roher for an 18-yard scoring pass and the Boxers went into the halftime locker room with a 38-7 lead. Pacific finished with 305 yards of offense in the first 30 minutes and forced two Puget Sound turnovers.
Pacific started the second half the same way they did the first as Villareal-Gomez kicked a 23-yard field goal to cap a seven-play, 35-yard drive. Puget Sound went three-and-out on their first series of the half, allowing the Boxers to milk the clock as they took 5 minutes, 32 seconds to complete their next drive. Ladiges closed it with an eight-yard touchdown run that made the Pacific advantage 48-7.
Puget Sound finally found the end zone again early in the fourth quarter, with Korn finding Kniffin for a 23-yard touchdown pass with two minutes gone in the stanza. The Boxers were not done scoring, however, as Minaya found Kelson Kawai (Jr., North Kohala, Hawaii) for a short two-yard scoring pass to make it a 55-14 game with 7:43 to go.
The Loggers responded with their final score of the game as Korn found Kniffin again for a 21-yard scoring pass to complete a six-play, 66-yard drive. Pacific found the end zone one more time as the Boxers brought many of their substitutes in. Bronson Barretto (Fr., Mililani, Hawaii) scored his first collegiate touchdown with an 11-yard run with 2:09 remaining.
Tim Hastie (Jr., Auberry, Calif.) led the Pacific defense with seven tackles while Bailey, Kamu Morita (Jr., Honolulu, Hawaii) and Austin Brown (So., Klamath Falls, Ore.) each had five tackles. Joe Cerne had 11 tackles to lead the Puget Sound defense while Frank Muzio finished with 10 tackles.
Pacific returns to action at home on Saturday as they host Pacific Lutheran. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Live audio and video webcasts will be available at goboxers.com/webcasts. Puget Sound will enjoy a bye week before returning to action on Sat., Oct. 20, when they travel to Whitworth.