PORTLAND, Ore. -- Entering Saturday's game against Puget Sound, the visiting Loggers had the Northwest Conference's top passer in yards per game and touchdowns, plus the league's top receiver in touchdowns scored. In the first half, two long touchdown runs put Lewis & Clark in a 21-7 hole, and the Pios couldn't bounce back, losing 38-7 at Griswold Stadium.
In his first career start, freshman quarterback Mike Machado threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to junior Kristian Grobecker to cut the Pios' early deficit to 14-7. It was Machado's third TD pass of the season and the first career scoring reception for Grobecker.
The play followed Max McGuinn's 53-yard touchdown run on the first play of the Loggers' second drive of the game. It ended up being followed by McGuinn's 62-yard rushing touchdown two drives later after Machado was intercepted by Connor Zurfluh.
Puget Sound, which came in averaging under 40 yards rushing per game, had 115 on those two plays alone. McGuinn finished with 141 yards, nearly becoming the first 150-yard rusher in a game for Puget Sound since 2008.
"We gave Machado a shot and some good things happened there," said Lewis & Clark head coach Jay Locey. "[Overall], it was a rough game for us. They played well, did a good job, so give them the credit."
Grobecker finished with 93 yards on three catches, and Machado ended the game 9 of 24 for 128 yards, the touchdown and two interceptions. Junior Niko Fortino, who had started the five previous games at quarterback, played the second half, finishing 14 of 25 for 129 yards.
Lewis & Clark senior linebacker Stein Retzlaff had another stellar game, posting 15 tackles, including seven solo. After Saturday's games, he now leads the conference in tackles per game with 10.5.
"As linebackers, we're known as the captains of the defense since we make all the calls," said Retzlaff. "We're naturally the ones who are setup to make lots of the tackles. We wouldn't have any if it weren't for the defensive line and everyone else forcing everything into us.
"Defensively we came out and played hard in the second half and allowed three points. One of the main things we need to do is keep rolling. Instead of playing retroactively - instead of coming out in the second half - we need to come out in the first half."
Three of Lewis & Clark's first five possessions ended in Puget Sound territory, the last of which ended when Machado pooch-punted the ball, which was downed at the 3-yard line. A Puget Sound false start penalty backed the Loggers near their own 1-yard line, but on the first snap, Fortune hit Brennan Schon for a 68-yard completion, the longest UPS play of the game.
Fortune threw to Schon again six plays later, this time for a 10-yard touchdown with 14:06 remaining in the second quarter to give the Loggers a 28-7 lead.
The Pios forced two turnovers and a three-and-out on Puget Sound's next three possessions. Bruce Taft had his first career interception with 12:15 left in the second quarter and then Remington Campbell knocked the ball loose from McGuinn and it was recovered by freshman Pete Lahti at the Puget Sound 10-yard line.
On third-and-goal, Machado was intercepted by Jake Wuesthoff in the end zone and Puget Sound scored five plays later on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Fortune to Schon, and the Loggers led 35-7 at halftime.
Lewis & Clark only allowed a 43-yard field goal by Sawyer Petre in the second half, but couldn't get points on their best offensive possessions in the final 30 minutes.
After a 45-yard field goal attempt by Mitch Habryle was blocked by Lewis & Clark, Fortino and the Pios' offense took over at the Puget Sound 38-yard line. After completing a third down pass to Carl Appleton to give the Pioneers a first down, the two connected again for 14 yards, but Appleton fumbled and the ball was recovered by Puget Sound's Matt Ahnin.
On the next Lewis & Clark possession, Grobecker caught a 13-yard pass at midfield, but was hit by Max Washum and lost the ball, which was recovered by Donovan Mosier.
The four turnovers were the most by Lewis & Clark all season, and a contrast to the last two games where the Pios had only turned over the ball once total.
The loss drops Lewis & Clark to 0-6 overall and 0-4 in the Northwest Conference, while Puget Sound improves to 4-2 overall with a 3-1 conference mark.
"It's Wagon Wheel week," said Retzlaff, referring to the Wagon Wheel given to the winning team of Lewis & Clark's annual game with Willamette. "Winning is the number one thing on our mind. We're going to work hard this week, we're going to fight."
There's only a few games left for these seniors."
The Pios have won the Wagon Wheel once in the last 21 meetings with Willamette. The two meet on Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. in Salem.
The final home game and senior day for Lewis & Clark is on Nov. 7 against Pacific Lutheran.