Pacific football is off to its first 2-0 start since 1969 after a 67-30 beatdown of visiting Occidental College

by: NEWS-TIMES: AMANDA MILES - Pacific junior running back Bobby Ladiges bursts through the Occidental defense during Saturday's home opener. The Boxers won 67-30 to cap the program's first 2-0 start since 1969.The Pacific football team was a bit like a freight train on Saturday night.

Hosting Occidental College of Los Angeles in its home opener, Pacific started slowly, spotting the Tigers a 17-7 first-quarter lead. But once the Boxers got going, they were practically unstoppable.

Keyed by a three-touchdown, 197-yard night by receiver Jordan Fukumoto, the Boxers rolled up a 36-7 second-half scoring advantage on their way to a resounding 67-30 victory in front of 2,200 spectators at Lincoln Park Stadium.

“We haven’t won at home since our sophomore year, so it’s awesome to get the first win in a while at home in front of our home fans,” Pacific quarterback T.C. Campbell said.

With the win, Pacific moved to 2-0 for the first time since 1969. After being dismantled in the early 1990s, the program was reinstated starting with the 2010 season. This week’s win, combined with a 20-10 victory at Adrian (Mich.) on Sept. 6, has demonstrated that these Boxers have come to compete.

“It took us a little bit of time to get rolling. We knew very little about Occidental coming in,” Pacific coach Keith Buckley said. “So we kind of had to feel them out in the first half, and we made a lot of mistakes that put points on the board for them.

“I think our guys are now at a point experience-wise that they can adjust, they can overcome. To be down and overcome a deficit, that’s a big step forward for us.”

Pacific trailed by as many as 10 points on two occasions on Friday but answered back with authority. Fukumoto, of course, had a lot to do with that.

On his dominant night, Fukumoto had seven receptions and recorded his first score, a 74-yard bomb from Campbell, 13 seconds into the second quarter. That touchdown trimmed the home team’s deficit to 17-14 and marked the first of four times the Boxers would put points on the board in the period.

The game was meaningful to Fukumoto not only for his performance but also on a personal level. Fukumoto, who was named the Northwest Conference Football Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week, broke his leg in Pacific’s contest at Occidental last year and missed the rest of the season.

A 1-yard touchdown run from Bobby Ladiges about three minutes after Fukumoto’s first score gave Pacific its first lead of the evening, but Occidental did not back down quite yet, taking a 23-21 advantage with 4:08 left in the half on Tommy Edwards’ 15-yard pass to Samuel Crizer.

From there on out, though, it was almost all Pacific. Campbell and Fukumoto hooked up for a 32-yard scoring strike with 2:44 remaining, and after Occidental went three-and-out on its next drive, Moses Villareal-Gomez added a 32-yard field goal with 44 seconds left in the half to stake the home side to a 31-23 lead — one it would not relinquish for the rest of the contest.

“Our offense, we started putting everything together,” Fukumoto noted. “We made a little bit of mistakes in the first half, like we stopped drives just because we didn’t do our jobs. After that, everybody was doing their job.”

Deven McKinney led the ground game with 10 rushes for 125 yards and a touchdown. His 49-yard rumble with 11:30 remaining in the fourth quarter put the Boxers up 45-30.

Brian Taylor (53 yards from Campbell) and Caleb Roher (30 yards from P.J. Minaya) added to the lead with touchdown passes 19 seconds apart midway through the fourth quarter, and Kamana Pimental rounded out the scoring on a 4-yard rushing TD with 2:07 remaining.

Pacific also effectively used both of its quarterbacks, Campbell and Minaya, who combined for 384 of the Boxers’ 598 yards on offense. Campbell (9-of-15, 227 yards) and Minaya (8-of-14, 157 yards) each threw for three touchdowns.

On defense, Tim Hastie led the Boxers with eight total tackles. Sean Bangs and Alex Willeford both recorded two sacks, and Bryan Mills, Kasey Dukes and Craig Bailey added an interception apiece. Bailey returned his 75 yards to the Occidental 5-yard line, setting up Ladiges’ second-quarter touchdown three plays later.

In all, seven of Pacific’s nine touchdown plays were for at least 20 yards, and four of them went for at least 40 yards, which did not go unnoticed by Buckley.

“We had one big play out at Adrian ... but we left three or four big plays on the field that we didn’t make,” Buckley said. “And tonight, especially in the second half, when we had a chance to make those big plays, we did.”

The Boxers return to the road this week, looking to go to 3-0 for the first time since 1950. On Saturday afternoon, they will take on Menlo College in Atherton, Calif.

Perhaps their third game against the Oaks will be the charm. The Boxers dropped a 44-42 defeat on the road to close out the 2010 season and suffered a 23-16 loss to Menlo at home in September 2011.

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