The University of Puget Sound football team had some critical parts missing Saturday at Baker Stadium.
Predictably, the Loggers stumbled and stalled.
With standout quarterback Braden Foley and starting running back Kupono Park sidelined with injuries, the Loggers’ normally productive offense managed only seven points through the first three periods of a 62-21 Northwest Conference loss to Pacific.
The visiting Boxers (2-3 overall, 1-1 league) amassed their most points in one game since a 62-0 rout of Albany College (now Lewis & Clark) in 1930.
“We lost our facilitator (Foley) and a tremendous running back (Park) and it affected us,” Puget Sound coach Jeff Thomas said. “Our quarterback out there today (James Korn) played admirably but when you’re missing two of your key cogs, it’s hard to pile up the amount of points we’ve been getting lately.”
Foley suffered a concussion in last week’s 55-42 loss to Lewis & Clark while Park went down with a season-ending knee injury during practice this week. Foley is expected back when the Loggers (0-5, 0-2), who have a bye this week, meet Whitworth on Oct. 20.
Korn was 32-for-57 passing for 285 yards and three touchdowns, but he averaged just 8.9 yards per completion. Pacific’s Craig Bailey also intercepted one of his throws and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.
Puget Sound senior wide receiver Adam Kniffin, ranked No. 1 nationally in receiving yards in Division III, had 12 receptions for 102 yards and two scores, including a spectacular twisting catch in the corner of the end zone from 21 yards out with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the game.
“It’s tough when you get beat like this, but I just try to keep making plays for my team and keep our morale up,” said Kniffin. “I’m going hard until the end, regardless of what the score is.”
Pacific quarterback P.J. Minaya, meanwhile, engineered a career day, completing 17 of his first 18 passes and finishing 25-for-30 for 276 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for a score.
“I completed a lot of short throws early in the game and my confidence kept building,” said Minaya, who was ushered into duty in Pacific’s opening game when P.J. Campbell went down with a season-ending injury.
Minaya knew it was going to be his day early in the second quarter. With the Boxers leading 10-7, Minaya fired a pass that bounced off the shoulder pads of Pacific’s Shahin Marzband and into the hands of Caleb Roher for a 4-yard touchdown.
“Pretty lucky,” admitted Minaya. “But they were both open.”
On Pacific’s next possession, Minaya launched a 48-yard touchdown strike to Jason Smith.
Over the next two minutes, Bailey ran back his pick six and Minaya hit Royer with a screen pass that went 17 yards for another score, giving the Boxers a 38-7 lead at halftime.
Pacific finished with 526 yards of total offense compared to Puget Sound’s 338.
Pacific Lutheran 31, at Lewis & Clark 14: Dalton Ritchey threw four touchdown passes, and outplayed reigning Northwest Conference offensive player of the year and quarterbacking counterpart Keith Welch on Welch’s home field at Griswold Stadium.
Ritchey got a big assist from the swarming Lutes’ defense, who sacked Welch five times, and picked off three of his passes.
“(Defensive coordinator) Craig McCord and his staff ... they came up obviously with a great plan,” PLU coach Scott Westering said. “You can never imitate Keith Welch in practice. We tried with guys. But those (defensive players) played very, very well today.”
PLU went 71 yards to open the second half, capped by Ritchey’s 7-yard touchdown strike to Brandon James, to grab a 17-0 lead.