Strong start propels Loggers to victory over visiting George Fox

One day, maybe very soon, coach Jeff Thomas will get that much-anticipated complete game out of his University of Puget Sound football team.

“We are saving it,” Thomas said. “It is like the card game go fish. We are just keeping our cards to the end.”

What Thomas did see Saturday was something he had not all season — a sustained good start in all three phases.

The Loggers built a big lead, then held off George Fox, 43-35, at Baker Stadium in Tacoma.

UPS (3-2, 2-1 in Northwest Conference) moved into third place in the conference standings and sits one game back of co-leaders Linfield and Whitworth.

Thomas’ passing offense, which had struggled converting third downs the past two games, was on point Saturday, at least for the first 20 minutes in building a 24-0 lead.

Junior Hans Fortune led four consecutive scoring drives, including three that netted touchdowns. And he featured senior Kevin Miller, who finished with a career-high 18 catches for 187 yards and a pair of scores.

Twelve of those receptions came in the first 18 minutes — capped by his 15-yard touchdown catch along the left sideline that gave the Loggers a 17-0 lead.

“For us, any skill-position player in our offense has to fit in the mold of either being a player the first person does not take down, or he always makes the first defender miss,” Thomas said. “Kevin does such a good job of (making defenders miss) in one-on-one situations.”

Fortune launched an 83-yard touchdown strike to Brennan Schon to extend the UPS lead to 24-0 with 9 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the first half.

In the first quarter, the Loggers outgained George Fox, 154-3. The Bruins went three-and-out on all of their first-quarter drives.

And kicker Sawyer Petre kicked three field goals, all in the first half.

“We had not, since I’ve been here, had all three aspects of our team in sync to start a game,” Thomas said. “It was a great way to start.”

But George Fox kept hanging around behind the big play. James Nguyen intercepted and returned a Fortune pass 74 yards for a touchdown to cut it to 24-14 with 4:48 to go in the first half.

And even after the Loggers scored the first two touchdowns of the second half — the final one coming on Peter Bell’s 78-yard catch — the Bruins matched it with two Grant Schroeder touchdown passes, the last one at the 1:05 mark.

Trailing 43-35, George Fox tried an onside kick, but it went out of bounds to seal the Loggers’ victory.

Fortune finished with a career-high 575 passing yards. Miller’s 18 catches were just short of Adam Kniffin’s single-game record of 22, set in 2010 against Whitworth.

At Whitworth 32, Pacific Lutheran 7: Store this name away — true freshman Cole Chandler — for the future.

Chandler, a former standout quarterback at Silverton High School in Oregon, came on for the Lutes (0-5, 0-3) in relief of injured starter Jon Schaub, and led the offense to its only touchdown at the Pine Bowl in Spokane.

Schaub left the game after a 3-yard run with less than six minutes remaining in the first half, and never returned.

Chandler, who threw an interception in the first half, got the Lutes on the scoreboard with a 33-yard scoring pass to Beau Lockmer early in the fourth quarter for his first career touchdown.

It was the third consecutive game the Lutes were held to fewer than 10 points. The last time that happened in one season was in 1963.