The Pacific Lutheran football team found out late Sunday night that they were selected as the second team selected in the 32-team playoff. Linfield, the Northwest Conference Champion, received an automatic bid. The bid to the NCAA tournament is the first for PLU and the football program since the 2001 season. At no. 20 in the nation according to D3football.com, PLU will play the high-powered, no. 3 ranked Linfield Wildcats, Saturday Nov. 17 in McMinnville, Ore., at 12:30.
“It’s exciting, this season has been a blast and it’s going to be fun to have another week with the guys” said sophomore offensive lineman Parker Browning. “They’re going to come out fired up, but so are we”
PLU is led by sophomore quarterback Dalton Ritchey. Ritchey won the starting job over teammate Kevin Russell early in the year. Averaging 271 passing yards per game, Ritchey has thrown for 2,439 yards and 18 touchdowns this season while completing nearly 60 percent of his passes. One of Ritchey’s main targets is sophomore wide receiver Kyle Warner. Richey and Warner have connected for eight touchdowns this season.
Ritchey’s numbers in the air are have been impressive, but in recent games Ritchey has become a threat on the ground. Ranked second on the team in rushing, Richie’s 332 yards accompany his arm and prove to opposing defenses he can scramble.
PLU needs to be defensively strong to defeat the no. 3 ranked team in the nation Saturday. But the Lutes are not changing their practice plan.
“Same way we always do, treating it like any other game. We have a tough week of film and practice ahead of us,” sophomore defensive lineman Doug Sullivan said.
PLU’s defensive core is going to have to be tough on Saturday to stop Linfield quarterback Mickey Inns who is a second-year starter, and is having a stellar season. With 27 touchdown passes and 2526 total passing yards Inns is a threat PLU must contain. Shutting down the passing game is key, putting pressure on freshman running back John Schafer and Senior Josh Hill who share touches carrying the ball.
The Lutes lost to Linfield 31-24 Sept. 19