Sports & Outdoors

Logger football falls short in hard fought battle against Whittier College

Now, as a longtime football fan and a University of Puget Sound student, logic would tell us that I would have been to a Puget Sound football game by now. While this was the case before Saturday’s game, it is no longer true that I have isolated myself from the excitement that is Logger football.
My previous discernments with going to Puget Sound football games were washed away within seconds of walking into the stadium. One can begin to feel the electricity in the atmosphere by just taking a few steps beyond the front gate. I was amazed by all of the people in the stands, and by the overwhelming energy that could only be felt. Finding an open seat was not easy, but once I did, I was ready to take on Whittier.
The first noticeable observation I made of our Loggers was how hard they play. The Whittier Poets went up early in the game with a field goal, but that seemed to only fuel the fire underneath the Loggers’ defense.
After a punt trapped the Poets inside their own 5-yard line, the defense swarmed the Poets like bees after honey, with sophomore Connor Savage (Bothell, Wash.) making a tackle in the end zone for a safety. A safety is only two points, but the momentum coming from a safety can lead to many more. The score following the safety was 3-2, Poets.
While the Loggers did not fully capitalize on the safety opportunity by turning the ball back over to the Poets, they were just as hungry as ever on the defensive side of the ball. The Poets thought they could get a huge play by heaving a 40-yard bomb over the top of our defense.
As I saw the ball go in the air it was as if time slowed down, and I realized the momentous impact this play could have. Half of me was in fear that the ball was going to be caught, while the other half was wrapped up in the excitement of such a pass.
I followed the soaring ball’s entire journey and my fears of it being caught came true, but it was a Logger that came up with it—Savage. Savage did not want his highlights to end with just his safety, and decided to make a Sportscenter-worthy play by showing the Poet wide receiver how it’s done.
While our offense was not putting huge points on the board early, junior running back Kupono Park (Waimanalo, Hawaii) was running very well and our offensive line had consistent blocking up front. The Loggers had a good mix of run and pass, which allowed them to run draw plays to open up even bigger holes for Park.
Our offense was really picking up a head of steam, but unfortunately the plague of turnovers seemed to be an early theme, with sophomore quarterback Braden Foley (Bothell, Wash.) throwing his second pick to the Poets. However, on the last play of the first quarter, freshman defensive back Frank Muzio (Alameda, Calif.) reminded the Poets what goes around comes around, intercepting a pass on the Loggers’ 25 and returning it nearly to midfield.
At the start of the second quarter, Foley connected with senior wide receiver Galen Arakawa (Aiea, Hawaii) on a textbook 21–yard slant pattern to give the Loggers their first lead of the season. The score was 9-3, Loggers following the extra point.
The excitement was short-lived, as the Poets scored on their next drive, taking a 10-9 lead. After this score, the Poets became somewhat “poetic” on offense, scoring the next 17 points of the game to build a 27-9 lead. In the second half we scratched our way back within 10 points thanks in part to Park’s two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter. Yet, the Poets always seemed timely in their responses with a scoring drive whenever the Loggers scored. The final score was 55-24, Poets.
On a statistical note, Park had a career high 115 yards rushing on 24 attempts. Foley threw for 315 yards despite his three interceptions on 24-of-43 passing. Senior Nasser Kyobe (Lynwood, Wash.) had a season-high 10 tackles, while Savage had six tackles to go along with his two interceptions and safety.
On a very high note, senior Adam Kniffin (Salem, Ore.) became Puget Sound’s all-time leader in receiving yards. This is an astonishing accomplishment if you consider how far back the Loggers’ football program goes.
Overall this football game was a great experience. I got to see how talented, hardworking and passionate our Logger football team is. Despite the fact that we did not walk away with the win, I do not hesitate to say that I will carry much deeper memories of this game beyond the win/loss column.
The Loggers show great promise in the defense’s ability to turn the ball over, and the offense can consistently move the ball. Both of these features make for a solid team that can really go places this year. If a few more errors are cut down, and we play with the same intensity, I may soon be writing about the victory after-parties.

PHOTO COURTESY / LAWRENCE STACK

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