The University of Puget Sound defeated Pacific Lutheran University in the 93rd meeting between the Loggers and Lutes at Baker Stadium in Tacoma on Saturday afternoon, 45-23. Here are five takeaways from the Loggers’ win, which was its second straight win over the Lutes in the series.
Jewell Day’s big day
The Loggers’ receiver had a huge game, hauling in 11 receptions for a career-high 250 yards and two touchdowns, including a 78-yard score.
“We just came out here, we had a game plan and we executed it,” Day said. “(Quarterback) Murdock (Rutledge) was out here making great passes. He trusts us to go out and make plays, which is key to our offense. We just did what we needed to do and made plays.”
Rutledge said it was a special outing for Day.
“We don’t know, but he just breaks tackles somehow,” Rutledge said. “He gets the ball and just breaks tackles like he should and is so sure handed. I can put it into tiny windows and he’ll catch it.”
AJ Johnson is special
It wasn’t his most statistically dominant game, as he drew double coverage nearly the entire afternoon, but the Loggers’ senior receiver and Lincoln High School grad showed why he’s one of the best players in the Northwest Conference early in the second quarter, going up for a touchdown grab on a fade route in the corner of the end zone and coming down with the ball in the midst of triple coverage.
“Coach Thomas asked me after the play, ‘What made you go to that side?’” said Rutledge, who tied his career high with five touchdown passes. “I said, ‘Honestly, I don’t know, coach. I just trusted AJ.’ I threw it knowing it was going to be double coverage. I didn’t realize it was triple. It was awesome he took three guys. It just shows how good he is.”
It’s something Thomas has seen plenty of over the years.
“He’s just different,” Thomas said. “We do not take for granted how special a talent we have.”
Takeaways, field position help Loggers
UPS won the turnover battle, 4-0, with PLU throwing three interceptions and fumbling once. That kind of statistic will doom even the best of teams, especially when playing in a rivalry game on the road.
“(Turnover margin) has been an area that’s been a known weakness for us,” Thomas said. “We have big five game goals. Field position is one of them and turnovers is one of them. So it’s just good to see how as we continue to harp on that, how it steps forward and makes us better.”
Punter Alex Everett had a big game for the Loggers, often pinning the Lutes within their own 20-yard line.
Air raid keeps defenses guessing
While Johnson might be the most physically gifted receiver on the roster, there’s no shortage of options for Loggers’ quarterback Rutledge. Four different receivers caught passes for UPS on Saturday afternoon, with Day leading the charge. Johnson added six catches for 44 yards and a touchdown; Collin Heimbach caught four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown; and Matt Marengo tallied 52 yards and a touchdown on three catches.
“It’s so hard (on an opposing defense),” Rutledge said. “We might have AJ at the one receiver side, and the safety needs to rotate to take AJ away. But then we have Jewell or Collin on the other side to make another play. So if they double team someone, I have a lot of other weapons. They can try to take everyone away but they can’t.”
Good to be home
UPS moves to 4-0 on the year at home this season with Saturday’s win against PLU. It was nice for the Loggers to bounce back after last week’s lopsided 77-22 road loss to Linfield.
“Our team had a great week of practice, probably our best week all year,” Rutledge said. “We’re really focused. It was nice to get the bounce-back win and we’re looking forward to Whitworth next week.”