Pacific Lutheran University built an early lead with a pair of big plays then held off the University of Puget Sound on Saturday afternoon to beat their rival for the second consecutive season.
The Lutes used a 63-yard touchdown pass and a 100-yard fumble return to pull ahead early and win 23-13 despite a late charge by the Loggers at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
It was the first Northwest Conference game for both teams. Collecting the Totem Pole Trophy again means PLU narrows UPS’s lead in the series to 46-40-5.
The game was less than a minute old when PLU quarterback Cole Chandler threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Brady Winter. UPS tied the game less than 10 minutes later with a 13-yard run by quarterback Tanner Diebold. However, the Lutes capped the first quarter with a 100-yard fumble return by Carson Ketter and never again trailed in the game.
The Lutes added another touchdown — an 11-yard pass from Chandler to Jacob King — midway through the second quarter but Dallan Rodriguez missed the extra point. The Lutes led, 20-7, at the half.
The Loggers, who’ve played their best football in the second half this season, narrowed the gap to 20-13 late in the third quarter with a 16-yard pass from Diebold to Dusti Harrison, but Dre Kristensen missed the extra point.
The Loggers put together a threat to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Using a flea flicker, Diebold completed a 46-yard pass to Alvin Johnson. However, the Lutes’ defense regrouped and held the Loggers to an unsuccessful long field goal attempt. PLU sealed the victory with a long drive ending with a 20-yard field goal by Alex Borst.
For PLU, Saturday’s game was their first since a Sept. 9 loss to Cal Lutheran for PLU. A game against Warner (Florida) was canceled during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. “It was a challenge staying hungry there for the three weeks,” Ketter said during the postgame show. “It kind of felt like fall camp was starting again.”