Football - Sat, Oct. 16, 2010
ATHERTON, Calif. - In dire need of a bounce-back victory, Menlo College
bounced back without the benefit of seeing its progress on the
scoreboard in a 28-10 loss to No. 25 Pacific Lutheran at Connor Field on
The Oaks outgained the nationally-ranked Lutes and moved the ball consistently, but couldn't finish drives. Meanwhile, Pacific Lutheran hardly did a thing with the ball aside from four scoring drives which all resulted in seven points.
A third consecutive loss drops Menlo to 3-4 on the season. The Oaks are winless since entering the NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Poll for the first time in the final week of September and play at Willamette next Saturday. Pacific Lutheran - ranked in the latest D3football.com Poll - is 5-0 and takes on No. 14 Linfield next week in a Northwest Conference showdown.
Menlo set the tone for the game on its first drive and it proved to be a bad thing. The Oaks moved the ball 37 yards in eight plays, advancing to the Pacific Lutheran 29 yard line before turning the ball over on downs when freshman quarterback Taylor Congdon - starting for the first time - was stopped short of the first down marker on a two-yard scramble that ended up one yard short.
The Oaks advanced to the Lutes 38 before punting on their second possession and turned the ball over on down again at the 23 before finishing a drive for the first, and unfortunately the last, time.
Pacific Lutheran had taken a 7-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter when Kyle Whitford took an end around to the left pylon from four yards out to cap a 12-play, 80-yard Lutes drive. Menlo defense held the next time it saw the field to give the Oaks offense the chance to draw even.
Sticking with the same formula that had allowed it to move the ball well in the opening quarter, Menlo bit off small chunks of yards on its way down the field. Running back Payton Bell began with a five-yard run, Congdon completed a pass to wide receiver Kenny Cavness for five more yards, Bell ran for seven, and fellow running back Jaronimo Wright added four.
On a first-and-16 play following a holding call, Congdon found Cavness for 13 yards to keep the Oaks moving before Wright ripped off runs of eight and then four yards. Whatever Menlo was doing on the edges of the field paid off on the following play when Congdon hit freshman receiver Robert Gehre in stride down the seam. Gehre raced down the middle of the field and fought his way through two Lutes defenders and into the endzone with a dive. With one minutes, 53 second left in the first half the Oaks tied the score.
While it appeared that Menlo would take the tie and the momentum into the locker room that wasn't the case. Just before the first half ended the Lutes struck a crushing blow that the Oaks never recovered from.
Using the sidelines and all three of its timeouts to stop the clock, Pacific Lutheran moved the ball to the Menlo 35 with 14 seconds on the clock thanks to a fourth-and-two pass from quarterback Jordan Rasmussen to Greg Ford on the previous play. The Lutes then took a chance by electing to go for the big payoff, which worked to perfection when Rasmussen lofted a pinpoint pass into the left side of the endzone which hit Ford in stride behind two Oaks defenders. Pacific Lutheran retook the lead at 14-7 with five seconds left in the half.
The Lutes all but put the game away on their opening drive of the second half. It took nine plays for the Lutes to cover 57 yards with running back Alec Simmons tight-roping the sidelines most of the way on a 19-yard touchdown run that made it 21-7 with just less than five minutes gone in the third quarter.
Menlo hinted at hitting the Lutes right back, but a 12-play, 54-yard drive ended without a point once again. This time the Oaks set up to attempt a short field goal, but a bad snap forced holder Cruz Castillo to throw a pass toward tight end Devin Young that was knocked down.
When the Oaks offense got the ball back at the Lutes 37 following a short punt they advanced to the after a 12-yard completion to Young and a short Wright run before Congdon was sacked for a seven-yard loss that killed the drive. Freshman Kevin Kurtz was able to salvage the missed opportunity with a 41-yard field goal that made it through the uprights with room to spare. It was 21-10 with 13 minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the game.
On the ensuing possession, Pacific Lutheran slowly took the life out of the Oaks before once final big play put the game away. Rasmussen completed back-to-back third-and-long passes to Ford on underneath patterns to keep the ball in the Lutes hands. First it was a 14-yard hook-up when 13 was needed, and then an 11-yard completion when 10 was necessary.
With the clock ticking under 10 minutes, Rasmussen hit Isaac Moog on essentially the same crossing pattern that worked for Ford. This time Moog caught the ball moving toward the Oaks sideline, cut up field, and zigzagged his way back toward the Lutes sideline before diving across the pylon for an emphatic 38-yard touchdown catch and run to put his team ahead 28-10.
Menlo moved the ball well into Pacific Lutheran territory one more time in the game, reaching the Lutes 10 before turning it over on downs again. Congdon was looking for Cavness, but the shifty sophomore was well covered.
Congdon's first college start was a solid one. The freshman completed 19-of-34 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball seven times for 12 yards without turning the ball over. Bell carried 17 times for 85 yards, Cavness caught six passes for 58 yards, and freshman Michael Alexander had six receptions for 44 yards.
Menlo's defense was up to task against the Lutes running game, limiting them to 29 yards on 31 attempts and a 0.9 avg. The Oaks finished the game with four sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. Senior linebacker R.J. Rivera had eight tackles, two sacks, and one tackle for a loss to lead the way. Steven Lopes added a team-high eight tackles, Beau Bussani and Chris Tosello each had a sack, and Marcus Alvin finished with two and a half tackles for loss. Jeff Dye made two stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Pacific Lutheran's potent passing attack proved to be too much for Menlo. Rasmussen completed 25-of-31 attempts for 265 yards and two scores. Ford caught 10 passes for 103 yards and Moog added six receptions for 87 yards.