The Pacific University scored three touchdowns – one by pass, one by rush and one by special teams – all en route to a 21-16 win over Cal Lutheran on Saturday afternoon.
The Boxers (1-2) put on an impressive display of defense, recording 10 sacks and holding the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran to 288 yards of total offense. The 10 sacks are the most since the return of Pacific football since 2010; plus, the Boxers along with Albion are the only two programs in Division III in 2018 to have 10 sacks in a game.
The Kingsmen (1-1) shuffled a pair of quarterbacks at the Boxer defense in the loss. Eli Peters came off the bench, completing 12 of 19 passes for 119 yards and 19 rushes for 29 yards.
The Pacific defense made an immediate impact, coming up with a turnover on the first drive of the game for the Kingsmen. Junior safety Kolby Nikolaisen forced a fumble and sophomore linebacker Cameron Ginn quickly recovered to set up a short field for the Boxers. Three plays later, in the Wildcat formation, sophomore quarterback Josh Harris ran 25 yards and broke a few tackles into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead in favor of the Boxers.
The Boxers special teams, later in the quarter, put Pacific ahead 14-0 when Nikolaisen blocked a punt and freshman Chase Hoffman scooped up the ball and raced 46 yards into the end zone with 2:42 left in the opening quarter.
Cal Lutheran came back with a 15 play, 78-yard drive, converting a pair of third downs on the drive. Jabar Byrd ran it in from a yard out, cutting the Pacific lead to 14-7.
Pacific got back on the scoreboard, early in the third quarter, when Harris and fellow quarterbacks J.T. Greenough and Bret Yap, Jr. engineered a 14 play, 79-yard drive. After Harris extended the drive with a five-yard rush, the Boxers called on Yap Jr. in relief of Greenough, who went down with an injury. Yap on his first play from scrimmage, completed a 31-yard pass to Hayden Von Almen on a 3rd and 14 play to extend the drive. Then, he converted another 3rd down when he connected with Ty Hargis on a nine-yard reception.
Facing 2nd and goal, Harris appeared to call his own number from the three-yard line. However, he quickly threw a jump pass to sophomore tight end Jack Lopez for his first reception and first touchdown as a Boxer to put Pacific ahead 21-7 with 4:10 left in the 3rd quarter. For Harris, it was his first career touchdown pass.
A blocked punt by the Kingsmen, in the fourth quarter, went out of the end zone for a safety cut the Boxers' lead to 21-9. Later in the quarter, CLU starting quarterback Hayden Smith returned to the game, marching the Kingsmen down the field on a quick four play, 57-yard drive. Smith connected with Ureal Blackshear for an 8-yard touchdown reception with 3:27 left to play.
The Kingsmen had one last chance at a go-ahead touchdown after forcing a three and out of the Pacific offense. But, the Boxer defense rose to the occasion with a sack by Smith and a pass break up by Declan Brown to preserve the win.