Ritchey Puts PLU in Passing Lane to Beat Menlo
ATHERTON, Calif. - Dalton Ritchey accounted for five touchdowns, including four passing, to lead Pacific Lutheran to a 38-21 non-conference football victory over the host Menlo College Oaks on Saturday afternoon.
The win was Pacific Lutheran's sixth in a row and give the team a 7-2 regular season record. Now, the Lutes await an announcement from the Division III national tournment selection committee to see if they have done enough to receive one of seven "Pool C" at-large berths into postseason play.
Of the 32 tournament berths, 24 go to "Pool A" conference champions and one to "Pool B" independents. Linfield won the Northwest Conference title with PLU placing second, and thus the Lutes' only way into postseason play is through an at-large bid.
The 32-team playoff field will be announced during at 3 p.m. Sunday during the Division III Football Selection Show that will be available on a video stream. The video stream is available at http://www.ncaa.com/live/player?vid=2012/602&date=2012/11/11.
Ritchey opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run that came with 4:09 remaining in the opening quarter, and he later added four touchdown passes that went to four different receivers.
After Nick Kaylor's 28-yard field goal put the Lutes on top 10-7, they added a short scoring pass from Ritchey to Kyle Warner to make it 17-7 with 4:28 left in the second period. The short drive was set up by a 47-yard punt return by Connor Cummings.
After a Menlo touchdown had cut the score to 17-14, PLU scored 21 consecutive points in the second half to put the game away. Ritchey and company responded right away to Menlo's touchdown by driving 75 yards and scoring on a 1-yard pass to Kellen Westering, that coming with 9:11 remaining in the third period.
PLU added another 75-yard drive, capped by Ritchey's 4-yard scoring toss to Lucas Sontra, which came 44 seconds into the final quarter. The last score was a 6-yard connection to Daniel Herr and was the first play from scrimmage following a fumble recovery by Stephen Hass on a Menlo punt return.
All of Menlo's touchdowns came on pass plays. Quarterback Matthias Pelasasa connected with Michael Alexander for 25 yards in the first quarter, with Alexander again for 12 yards in the third quarter, and with Robert Adan for 15 yards about four minutes from the end of the game.
The Lutes compiled 417 yards of total offense, including 348 through the air. Ritchey was 15-for-28 for 342 of those yards. His favorite receiver this game was Herr, who had six receptions for 186 yards. Warner added five catches for 95 yards.
Menlo, which came into the game averaging 222 rushing yards per contest, was limited to 17 yards on 23 carries by the Lutes defense. The stingy PLU defense forced the Oaks to the air, and their 41 passing plays were almost double the number of their runs. Pelasasa was 30-for-41 for 268 yards and the three touchdowns.
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