WHITTIER, Calif. – Junior WR Adam Kniffin hauled in three touchdown catches to become the all-time leader in Logger history, but the Puget Sound football team lost 66-48 at Whittier on Saturday. Kniffin caught TD passes of 79, 50 and 25 yards to run his career total to 22 TD catches, breaking a 42-year old record previously held by Dan Thurston.
Thurston, a Logger Hall-of-Famer, grabbed 21 TD catches from 1966-69 and held the record until Kniffin's fourth quarter catch today.
"We're obviously excited for Kniffin's record but I think he would agree that we would trade the record for a win right now," said head coach Jeff Thomas. "He has really added some speed this year that he didn't have last year that has made him a more complete receiver."
After Kimble Tillman scored on a one-yard run on Whittier's (1-1) first possession, the Loggers (0-3) rattled off 14 quick points to take their only lead of the game. Kupono Park ran for his first of two touchdowns on the day to tie the game at 7-7.
Connor Savage stepped in front of a Chris Lopez pass for his first career interception and the Logger offense responded. On the second play of the drive, George Ka'ai found Kniffin for a 79-yard TD strike – the longest score of each of the Loggers' career.
Down 14-7, Lopez took over for the Poets. Lopez found Makale Ruiz for touchdowns of 58 and 19 yards to regain a 21-14 advantage for the Poets. Lopez ended the game on 28-of-39 passing for 456 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw an early interception. Lopez also found a way to make plays happen on the ground as he rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
After Whittier took the 21-14 advantage, they would never relinquish the lead and pulled away late in the third quarter.
The Loggers immediately responded after going down seven points when Tieler Souza took the ensuing kickoff 93-yards for a Logger touchdown, but the Loggers missed the extra point. Souza's return was the longest of his career and the first logger kick return for a touchdown since Isaac Blum returned a kick 90 yards for a touchdown against Lewis & Clark on Oct. 21, 2006.
"The benchmark is to never give up and have mental toughness," added Thomas. "We just came up short in finishing crucial plays today on both offense and defense."
Whittier scored three more times before the half and Ka'ai found Ryan Rogers in the end zone late in the second quarter as Whittier took a 42-27 lead into the half.
Park found the end zone again to start the second half scoring and bring the Loggers within eight at 42-34. Lopez hit Tillman for an 84-yard touchdown to go back up by 15 points and Ka'ai found Kniffin for a 50-yard touchdown pass on the next drive to bring the Loggers back within striking distance at 49-41.
The Poets rattled off 10 straight points before Kniffin's record-breaking 25-yard TD grab and Tillman padded the Poets lead to 66-49 on a three-yard TD run for the final tally.
Kniffin ended the game just six yards shy of another record as he tallied 216 receiving yards. Mike Bos holds the record with 222 yards against Carroll College in 1982. Ka'ai threw for 393 yards and four TDs but threw a pairs of INTs as well. Park rushed for a season-high 67 yards for the Loggers. Tillman ran for 60 yards and caught nine passes for 156 yards to lead a trio of Poets receivers with over-100 yards receiving. The Poets outgained the Loggers 651-456 yards in the game.
There were five touchdown plays of 50 yards or more in the game as big plays continued throughout the game.
Cody Petro-Sakuma had a career-high 13 tackles to lead the Loggers while Casey Coberly had 10 tackles, including three sacks.
The Loggers remain on the road next week when they travel just across town to face Pacific Lutheran at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Wash.