In the face of another crushing loss, to his credit, University of Puget Sound football coach Jeff Thomas didn’t lose it.
He had every right to blow his top Saturday. This was a game his team should have won.
But after putting together arguably their most complete quarter of the season on both sides of the football, the Loggers turned mysteriously sloppy — and handed Case Western Reserve a 38-31 nonconference victory at Baker Stadium.
The Spartans turned the game around with two touchdowns and a field goal in a 71/2-minute span toward the end of the first half to take a 17-7 lead.
“Our guys are trying to do too much, and we just don’t do our assignments,” Thomas said.
The way the game turned was head-scratching. Case Western Reserve did virtually nothing on offense in the first quarter. Its longest play was a 16-yard run off a fake punt by Erik Olson — the team’s starting quarterback.
The Loggers (1-4) went 73 yards in 13 plays to score the game’s first touchdown. They ate up almost five minutes. They converted a pair of fourth downs — the last coming on Braden Foley’s 8-yard touchdown strike to Kevin Miller on a fourth-and-2 play to grab a 7-0 lead with 5:19 to go in the first quarter.
It seemed so effortless. And after cornerback Roy Fuchigami picked off an Olson pass in the end zone, UPS threatened to tack on more points.
Foley completed a 40-yard pass to Peter Bell, and the Loggers sat at the Spartans’ 27 early in the second quarter.
Then came the play of the game — one that began the UPS unraveling.
On second down, Foley stood in shotgun. The snap came to him low, which threw off the timing of the play.
But the junior from Bothell tried making something out of it — and chose to throw to the right corner of the end zone for freshman receiver Brennan Schon.
As Schon turned outside, Foley’s pass came in way behind him. It landed in the arms of cornerback Ni0ck Kwon, who took it back 48 yards, accounting for Foley’s seventh interception in his past three games.
“You are right there almost in the red zone, and you throw a pick. That is not what you want to be doing obviously,” Foley said. “The turnovers are what’s killing us.”
It took Case Western Reserve (2-3) seven plays to tie the score at 7-all, scoring on Olson’s 19-yard pass to Sean Lapcevic at the 8:17 mark.
UPS never recovered from the turn of events.
“That (Foley’s interception) is the play that stands out,” Thomas said. “If it is a bad snap, we should burn the ball or do something else.”
After that, Case Western Reserve’s dink-and-dime offense wore out the Loggers, gaining 387 yards on 80 plays and taking up more than 36 minutes in time of possession.
Down 38-17 late in the game, UPS rallied behind Foley, who threw two touchdown passes in 41 seconds to cut the deficit to seven with 1:13 remaining.
But the Loggers’ ensuing onside kick dribbled out of bounds, and Case Western Reserve ran out the clock after converting a third-and-2 play near midfield.Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org