PORTLAND, Ore. - Dalton Ritchey threw for three touchdowns and the Pacific Lutheran defense hassled dynamic Lewis & Clark quarterback Keith Welch throughout the game as the Lutes beat the host Pioneers, 31-14, in a Northwest Conference football game played Saturday afternoon at Griswold Stadium.
With the win the Lutes improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference, while Lewis & Clark suffered its first defeat to fall to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the NWC.
While Ritchey was lighting up the air with 273 passing yards and his three touchdowns to as many different receivers, the PLU defense kept the high-scoring Lewis & Clark offense of the scoreboard until late in the third period. By that time the Lutes held a 17-0 lead on the way to their 17th victory over the Pioneers in the last 18 meetings between the teams.
Welch, the senior quarterback who has been the key component in Lewis & Clark's resurgence as a football program, was 26-for-45 for 232 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Known for his ability to scramble and create with his feet, Welch was limited to 16 net yards on 17 carries as Pacific Lutheran sacked him five times. The PLU defense recorded 13 tackles for a total of 42 yards in losses in limiting the Pios to 256 yards of total offense, including just 24 net yards on 32 rushing attempts.
Doug Sullivan finished with two quarterback sacks and both he and Mychael Tuiasosopo had 2 1/2 tackles for loss. Cornerback Tayler Angevine had a par of interceptions and Jonny Volland added his fourth pick of the season for the Lutes.
Pacific Lutheran took a 7-0 lead just 3:50 into the game when Ritchey found Kellen Westering with a 3-yard scoring pass, culminating a four-play, 37-yard drive. Nick Kaylor added a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter as the Lutes took a 10-0 lead into the halftime break.
The next four possessions all resulted in long scoring drives, with each team getting a pair of those.
First, the Lutes put together their most sustained scoring drive of the game to open the second half, going 71 yards on 11 plays with Brandon James taking a pitch around the right end for seven yards and the touchdown.
Trailing 17-0, Lewis & Clark finally put together a scoring drive of its own, moving 72 yards on 10 plays with Welch finding Jacob Constantino with a 24-yard scoring toss.
PLU answered right back when Kyle Warner broke free behind the Pios defense to haul in a 69-yard catch-and-run scoring pass from Ritchey. Warner, a sophomore wide receiver, had a massive day for the Lutes with nine catches for 195 yards.
Welch then led his team on an impressive 18-play, 81-yard drive that took 5:39 off of the clock. Evan Stanbro caught a 4-yard pass from Welch that made the score 24-14 with 10:28 remaining.
With the clock running down to the final minute, Sullivan recovered a fumble at the Lewis & Clark 7-yard line, and the Lutes scored on the next play when Ritchey passed to Austin Hilliker. That touchdown came with 1:00 remaining and iced the win for the visitors.
PLU finished the game with 436 yards of offense and 21 first downs. Brandon James gained 81 rushing yards on 13 carries to lead the ground game, and Niko Madison added 44 yards on seven carries.
Ritchey found seven different receivers with his passes, including his nine connections with Warner.
The Lutes return to conference action at 1 p.m. next Saturday when they meet the Pacific Boxers in Forest Grove, Ore.
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