Northwest Conference

Previewing UPS-PLU showdown

PACIFIC LUTHERAN (1-5, 1-3 in NWC) at PUGET SOUND (4-2, 3-1)

1 p.m. Saturday, Baker Stadium, Tacoma

Coaches: Scott Westering is in his 12th season at PLU (63-44 record). Jeff Thomas is in his sixth season at UPS (11-40)

Series: The series started in 1931, and UPS leads, 44-40-5. The Lutes have dominated over the past three decades, winning 28 of the past 30 meetings. PLU is currently on a nine-game winning streak, and won last season, 42-27, in Puyallup.

Statistical leaders: For PLU — QB Cole Chandler (29-42, 360 yards, three TDs), RB Marc Gallant (45 rushes, 160 yards, TD) and WR Ben Welch (36 receptions, 354 yards). For UPS — QB Hans Fortune (163-265, 2, 138 yards, 19 TDs), RB Max McGuinn (59 rushes, 279 yards, three TDs) and WR Peter Bell (35 receptions, 465 yards, TD).

Injury report: For PLU — LB Brandon Kelly (shoulder), LB Drew Oord (knee), QB Jon Schaub (knee) are out; LB Kyle Bennett (shoulder), LB Tanner Perry (back), WR Ben Welch (shoulder) are probable. For UPS — WR Dustin Harrison (knee), WR Kevin Miller (foot), DL Jeremy Perkovich (knee), DL Max Richman (knee), WR Sean Whaley (wrist) are out; WR Nate Abernathy (hand) is probable.

When PLU has the football: Chandler, the freshman from Silverton, Oregon, shows poise beyond his years. He completed 12 of 13 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start, leading the Lutes to their first win of the season, 28-27, over George Fox. With PLU’s protection issues, do not expect Westering to open the playbook for Chandler. In fact, this might be a good week to bring out a committed rushing attack, led by Gallant and Darin Hardgrove, and take calculated shots down the field to Welch and deep threat Garrett Hittner.

When UPS has the football: There is a bit of an unknown for the Loggers after they lost Miller, the leading receiver in NCAA Division III, to a broken foot on a punt return in last week’s victory over Lewis & Clark. Who will be the team’s next middle-of-the-field receiving weapon? If you look at the best remaining threats in Bell and Brennan Schon (25 catches, 661 yards, eight TDs), it might best serve UPS to go down the field, which suits Fortune’s big arm just fine. UPS (459.8 yards per game) is second in the conference in total offense behind Linfield.

TNT pick: UPS, 24-17.

Todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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