The first drives for both teams revealed plenty.
Pacific Lutheran University, primarily made up of new starters on offense, drove 50 yards, reached the red zone – but could not score.
And when it was 12th-ranked California Lutheran’s turn, the Kingsmen went the length of the field – and put points on the board.
Playing like a veteran team, CLU built an early lead, survived a Lutes’ surge and finally put away a 37-23 victory over the Lutes at Sparks Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams.
Even though it was an early exchange, PLU coach Scott Westering said the Kingsmen set a tone from the beginning.
“We don’t score, and they took it for one,” Westering said. “We had that opportunity to set the tone, set the momentum ... you know as we always say, there’s four or five plays that makes a difference – one of those may have been one of those plays but it was so early in the game.”
Dalton Ritchey, making his first start at quarterback for the Lutes, showed to be an elusive target in directing PLU to the CLU 1-yard line on the first drive.
But the Lutes were pushed back to the Kingsmen 6 after a sack, and that is where the drive stalled.
It took CLU five plays to score a touchdown, capped by Romello Goodman’s 2-yard run for a 7-0 lead with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in the first quarter.
Ritchey threw an interception on the Lutes’ next drive, and the Kingsmen scored quickly to grab a 14-0 lead.
After that, PLU scored the next 17 points.
“The game was real fast in the beginning,” Ritchey said. “But once we got rolling ... the potential we have on our sideline, it can be scary.
“Once we can piece together the whole thing, we’ll be tough.”
The Kingsmen got an early break in the second half when PLU punter Conor Lien had the ball slip through his hands, and was tackled deep in the Lutes’ end of the field.
Quarterback Kevin Ramay’s 15-yard scoring scamper 11:04 left in the third quarter started a run of 20 unanswered points for the Kingsmen, the defending SCIAC champions, in building a 37-17 lead – then held on after the Lutes made a late rally.
“We’re just excited to go back to work,” Westering said. “Your biggest jump is between the first and second game.”
Ritchey was 22-for-43 passing with 337 yards, and had 43 yards rushing. Both Kyle Warner (six catches for 152 yards) and Kellen Westering (seven catches for 111 yards) made big plays for the Lutes.
At Chapman University 55, Puget Sound 35: The losses keep piling up for the Loggers, now 12 in a row dating back to the 2010 season.
But so do the school’s receiving records for Adam Kniffin.
The Salem, Ore., product, a 6-foot-3 senior, caught 12 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns.
His yardage total is a UPS single-game record, eclipsing the 222 set by Mike Bos against Carroll College in 1982.
Kniffin holds eight Loggers receiving records, and needs 59 yards to break Bos’ career mark (2,312).
Chapman went up 21-0 in the first 10 minutes at Wilson Field in Orange, Calif.kevin.manning@ thenewstribune.com 253-597-8680 Staff writer Todd Milles contributed to this report.