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FOREST GROVE – Jakob Lawrence's (Sr., Sherwood, Ore.) fourth quarter touchdown and a big defensive stand on Pacific Lutheran's final drive of the game gave Pacific their biggest win yet since the 2010 reinstatement of the program Saturday as the Boxers knocked off the No. 18 ranked Lutes 31-28 in Northwest Conference football action at Hanson Stadium.
Trailing 28-24, Lawrence found himself on the receiving end of an 18-yard scoring pass from Warner Shaw (Jr., Waimea, Hawaii), which put the Boxers ahead 31-28 with 4:09 to go. That left plenty of time for the Lutes to put together a drive, but the Pacific defense alive to force four straight pass incompletions and take the ball over on downs. After turning the ball over on downs themselves in an attempt to run out the clock, the Boxers denied a Hail Mary attempt with one second left to seal the game.
The win marks Pacific's first over a ranked opponent since the program's reinstatement in 2010. It is also snaps a 17-game losing streak to the Lutes dating back to 1973. Pacific last beat the Lutes in 1972, Frosty Westering's first year as head coach. It is also the first 3-0 start to conference play in program history.
"This is a big win, there's no way around it. There's part of me that says that it's just another football game, but it's not," said Pacific head coach Keith Buckley. "It's a win over a top-20 team. It's a win against a team that's always in the playoff discussion and the conference championship discussion. It is a big win and we're excited for it. It was one of those close, gritty games that we were finally on the right side of."
Pacific outgained the Lutes on offense 350 to 316, but won the game on time of possession and conversions. The Boxers' offense held onto the ball for over 35 minutes and converted 11 of 15 on third down. While averaging 217 rushing yards per game, the Lutes were limited to just 106 yards on the ground.
"When you hold onto the ball and move the chains, you are going to keep an offense off of the field," Buckley said. "That is a big part of our entire programmatic success is being good on third down and being efficient in out time management. We're excited of the progress our program is showing there."
Shaw was very impressive in the win, completing 21 of 24 for 244 yards and three touchdowns as the Pacific offensive line gave the junior plenty of time to throw the ball. Lawrence made seven catches for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Caleb Roher (Sr., Gresham, Ore.) caught six balls for 52 yards. Kamana Pimental (So., Kaneohe, Hawaii) led the rushing game, carrying 18 times for 72 yards.
Pacific Lutheran quarterback Dalton Ritchey completed 14 of 25 passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Ritchey was also the Lutes' leading rusher, carrying 13 times for 72 yards. Kyle Warner caught seven balls for 105 yards and two touchdowns while Niko Madison caught four for 49 yards.
The Lutes used short rushes and passes to march down to the Pacific 11-yard line on their opening drive, but Josh Brinkworth (Sr., Elk Grove, Calif.) forced Ritchey to fumble and the Boxers were in business. The Pacific offense milked the clock, taking nearly seven minutes to go 78 yards on their opening drive. Shaw found Lawrence for the six-yard touchdown reception to give the Boxers the 7-0 lead with 3:45 left in the first.
The PLU defense jump-started the Lutes' first scoring drive, forcing Ladiges to fumble and Joel Anthony returned the ball to the Pacific 23-yard line. Three plays later, Madison sauntered in on a one-yard run that, after the PAT, tied the game at 7-7 four seconds into the second quarter.
The Boxers ground out a 69-yard, seven-minute drive on their next series, which ended when Shaw found Jordan Fukumoto (Sr., Mililani, Hawaii) for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Pacific Lutheran closed the half out with the tying score, going 68 yards in 51 seconds and ending on Ritchey's 25-yard touchdown pass to Warner that made it a 14-14 game at the half.
Pacific had the ball to begin the first half and quickly took advantage, using the rushing game to put together a 66-yard drive that ended on a five-yard scoring run by Bronson Barretto (Jr., Mililani, Hawaii) that put the Boxers ahead 21-14. The Lutes wasted little time evening the score as Ritchey found Warner for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 4:47 left in the third to complete a 67-yard, six minute drive that tied it again at 21-21.
The Lutes stopped the Boxers in red zone for the first time early in the fourth quarter. Despite struggling in his last two games, Moses Villareal-Gomez (Sr., Stockton, Calif.) came through with a 20-yard field with 12:49 to go, which proved to be the difference in the game.
The Lutes took their only lead of the game with 6:38 to go. The Lutes used a series of rushing plays to complete a 79-yard drive before Ritchey found Lucas Sontra on a short one-yard pass on fourth down to make it a 28-24 game. Pacific worked quickly on their next series, using back-to-back 22-yard pass plays to Lawrence and Jack Michels (Jr., Kirkland, Wash.) to set up Shaw's 18-yard touchdown pass with 4:09 left.
The scoring drive left PLU with plenty of time to either tie or win the game, but the defense came up with their biggest stops of the year. After a three-yard pass from Ritchey to Ben Welch gave the Lutes a first down on their own 38-yard line, the Boxers succeeded in forcing four straight incompletions that all but sealed the game for the Boxers.
Jack Perez (Jr., Petaluma, Calif.) led Pacific defensive with 10 tackles. Brandon Harms (Sr., Canby, Ore.) had seven tackles while Brinkworth had six tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. Greg Hibbard led the PLU defense with 10 tackles while three other Lutes had eight tackles each.
Pacific hits the road for their next two games. They will play the first game against George Fox since 1968 next Saturday, traveling to Newberg to face the Bruins at 1 p.m. A live audio webcast will be available at GoBoxers.com. Pacific Lutheran returns home to host Willamette.
BOXER BYTES: Saturday's win avenged a 17-16 loss the Boxers took at PLU last season, which ended on a 20-yard field goal with two seconds left that was redirected into the uprights after the ball hit off the helmet of a Pacific defender…The victory snapped the longest current losing streak against any team all-time and was the Boxers' ninth win over the Lutes dating back to 1939…The victory was Keith Buckley's 14th as Pacific head coach, tying him with Bill Griffin (1985-1989) for No. 6 on the Pacific all-time wins list…At halftime, members of Pacific's women's rowing team christened the program's new eight-man racing shell. The Boxers will row in their first regatta next weekend.
Pacific Holds In 4th Quarter To Take Down No. 18 Pacific Lutheran
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