LEWIS & CLARK (1-3) AT NO. 15 PACIFIC LUTHERAN (3-1)
12:30 p.m., Sparks Stadium, Puyallup
The series: PLU leads, 36-10-1. The Lutes won, 31-14, last season in Portland. Lewis & Clark snapped a 16-game skid by eking out a 34-32 victory in Puyallup in 2011.
What to watch: Well, the showdown last week at No. 2 Linfield ended up being a one-sided affair – a 29-0 Wildcats triumph. Simply put, quarterback Dalton Ritchey (67 of 125, 840 yards, six TDs, nine INTs; 147 rushing yards) has not taken care of the football with 11 turnovers. In fact, dating back to the NCAA Division III playoff loss at Linfield to end the 2012 season, Ritchey has 15 turnovers in his past five games. Is it a serious issue or just a bad stretch? Coach Scott Westering noted his junior “has been pressing” in key junctures of games and wants him to relax and play freely. It doesn’t help that running back Brandon James (knee) and fullback Va’a Logotala continue to miss games because of injuries. Both will be out again this week. And this will be the final time the Lutes face Pioneers’ standout quarterback Keith Welch (94 of 154, 1,189 yards, 14 TDs; 317 rushing yards, five TDs), who almost single-handedly beat UPS last week, 60-30. Welch ranks fourth in NCAA Division III in total offense (370.3 yards a game).
What’s at stake: Even after last week’s loss, the Lutes are still on a smooth road toward an at-large NCAA playoff berth. A loss to an unranked opponent would immediately bump them from that.
TNT pick: PLU, firstname.lastname@example.org