For much of Saturday’s game, the University of Puget Sound offense looked like they could compete with any team in the Northwest Conference.
The same could not be said for the defense.
The Loggers’ defense gave up 610 yards, including 212 rushing to running back Curtis Shirley, and UPS fell to the undefeated Lewis & Clark Pioneers, 55-42.
“We just have to find ways each week” Loggers coach Jeff Thomas said. “We need to get stop turning the ball over and start making big stops on defense and get better each week.”
Neither team had trouble scoring touchdowns on their first drives and the Pioneers (4-0, 1-0 Northwest Conference) looked like they were about to take a 14-7 lead on their next series, but fumbled out of the end zone for a touchback
The Loggers (0-4, 0-1) took their first lead in the second quarter on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 44-yard bomb to Adam Kniffin and a 2-yard score by Kupuno Park.
That lead lasted 19 seconds as Shirley went untouched for a 62-yard touchdown to tie the contest. Two possessions later, Lewis & Clark quarterback Keith Welch found wide receiver Nico Ohland open in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown that gave the Pioneers a 21-14 halftime lead.
After trading scores, a 3-yard touchdown run by Welch – his second of the day – put Lewis & Clark ahead by 12, but once again the Loggers had an answer. A 54-yard connection between Loggers quarterback Braden Foley and Kniffin, followed by a 2-yard scramble by Foley into the end zone, cut the lead back to five.
Another Pioneer touchdown followed by an interception of Foley seemingly put the game out of reach, but a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kniffin – who finished with 203 yards receiving on the day – and an onside kick recovery was followed by another Foley touchdown pass, this time to Ryan Rogers, to make the score 48-42.
The Loggers had a chance to get the ball back, but on fourth downWelch found Joey Constantino wide open on the sideline for his second score that sealed the victory for the Pioneers.
“We get better every week.” Thomas said. “It may not show in the box score, but the defense was markedly better than the week before. We just have to find a way to win a game.”