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The George Fox offense nearly shut down; loss creates three-way tie for second

Capitalizing on a bevy of George Fox miscues and turnovers, Pacific Lutheran made an early lead standup by shutting out the Bruins for three quarters to record a 13-3 upset Saturday at Stoffer Family Stadium. SETH GORDON - George Fox senior Ryan Russo drags down Pacific Lutheran quarterback Walker LaVoy to force a turnover on downs late in the Bruins 13-3 home loss to the Lutes.

The Bruins turned the ball over four times, dropped numerous passes, missed a pair of field goals and generally could not sustain any kind of momentum on offense.

"We showed up and played hard," senior Ryan Russo said. "They were just executing and we weren't."

The Lutes drove 68 yards on their opening drive, hitting pay dirt on a three-yard T.J. Morris run to go up 7-0 only 5:47 into the first quarter.

George Fox entered the game averaging 29 points a contest, so the Bruins fully expected to get rolling at some point after responding with a field-goal drive on its first possession.

Jason Santoni's second attempt of the game from 45 yards out on GFU's next drive hit the upright and the Lutes answered with a field goal of their own to go up 10-3 with 7:49 remaining in the second quarter.

George Fox drove to the PLU 29-yard line on its next drive, but a sack on third down pushed the Bruins out of field goal range and forced a punt.

The Lutes added a second field goal, this time from 42 yards out with 47 seconds remaining in the half, after driving 77 yards from their own eight yard line.

GFU was gifted with great field position, but another missed field goal with two seconds remaining in the second quarter kept the score at 13-3 at halftime.

After both teams punted on their opening possessions of the third quarter, they traded turnovers on four of the next five possessions with Austin Taylor grabbing an interception and Dane Jensen recovering a fumble for the Bruins.

A Caleb Harrell interception early in the fourth quarter set the Bruins up at the Lutes' 33-yard line, but Carson Ketter returned the favor by picking off quarterback Grant Schroeder on third and goal from the 11-yard line six plays later.

George Fox then fumbled and turned the ball over on downs on its next two possessions, with a Travis McMillion interception with 2:19 remaining wrapping up the result for Pacific Lutheran (4-3, 3-3 Northwest Conference).

The Lutes outgained the Bruins 348 to 199 and gained 22 first downs to the home team's 11.

"We just couldn't get anything going," Russo said. "We came out kind of soft. We just didn't pull through."

With the loss, George Fox (6-3, 4-2) fell into a three-way tie for second place with Whitworth and Pacific with one game remaining, although the Bruins hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams. As the 10th-ranked team in the west region, the Bruins were a long shot to earn an at-large berth to post-season play and the losses to Lutes and Linfield a week earlier sealed their fate.

George Fox will close out the regular season Saturday at Puget Sound, which at least gives the Bruins a chance to end the season, and the careers of the "zero year" seniors, on a better note.

"Especially coming from zero year, I've been here for a long time," Russo said. "We've still had a great season. It's still not over and I'm just proud of our guys."

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