TACOMA, Washington - The 2018 Puget Sound football team generated the highest-scoring offense in program history, and accolades poured in from September through December.
The Loggers' 350 points on the season set a new school record, as did the team's 40 touchdown passes. Puget Sound quarterbacks combined to average 381.1 passing yards per game, which is also a new program record.
By the end of the season, eight Loggers earned All-Northwest Conference nods. Todd Blakely, Jason Clayton, Jewell Day, AJ Johnson, and Zackary Teats were named to the All-NWC First Team. Collin Heimbach, Zack Losack, and Murdock Rutledge received Second Team honors.
In early December, Johnson was named an All-American Honorable Mention by D3football.com. He's the first Logger to receive an All-American honor from the site since it launched in 1999. The Tacoma native set the Puget Sound single-season record for receiving yards with 1,096. He led the Northwest Conference in both receiving yards and receptions (92), and he ranked second in touchdown catches (12).
Day, also a wide receiver, picked up an honor beyond the NWC. He was named to the Google Cloud All-District Academic Team, as announced by College Sports Information Directors of America. Day's breakout junior season included four games with 100+ receiving yards. He had a career-best 163 receiving yards against Redlands (Sept. 8), and he nearly matched that mark with 154 receiving yards against No. 23 Linfield (Nov. 3). Day also totaled five multi-touchdown games.
Heimbach also feasted on Puget Sound's proficient aerial attack. He ranked fourth in the NWC for both receptions (64) and receiving yards (984), and his 10 touchdown receptions trailed only his teammates, Day and Johnson.
Two Puget Sound quarterbacks threw for more than 1,000 yards in 2018. Senior Nik Bernhardt threw for 1,021 yards and 11 touchdowns in six games. However, injuries to Bernhardt allowed opportunities for Rutledge. The sophomore made the most of his second season with the Maroon & White, airing it out for 2,613 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Of course, it wasn't all offense for the 2018 Loggers. In addition to his All-NWC nod, Blakely was nominated for the Cliff Harris Award – which is "presented to the nation's top small college player." The senior defensive lineman tied for the second-most sacks in the NWC with 9.5, and his 16 tackles for a loss on the season tied for third in the conference.
Defensive backs Clayton and Teats also received national recognition during the course of the season. Clayton was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week following the Loggers' 28-21 overtime win against Pacific Lutheran (Sept. 29). Clayton intercepted the Lutes twice, including an overtime pick in the end zone that allowed Puget Sound to walk off with the Homecoming victory.
Teats was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week after he helped lead the Loggers to a comeback victory, 34-22, at Lewis & Clark (Oct. 6). Puget Sound overcame a 20-point deficit, in large part to Teats' two interceptions. His first interception was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter and gave the Loggers their first lead of the game, 21-20.
Puget Sound nearly pulled off an even more miraculous comeback win against No. 23 Linfield during the Loggers' final home game of the season (Nov. 3). The Wildcats held a convincing 37-13 lead with 10:36 on the clock in the fourth quarter. However, the Puget Sound offense put together several quick scoring drives, and the Logger defense made a handful of big stops. Rutledge and Day connected for several big plays in the fourth quarter, including a 28-yard touchdown pass that gave the Loggers a 41-40 lead with 51 seconds left in the game. However, Linfield found the end zone once more to win it in regulation.
During the 2018 season, the Loggers totaled eight NWC Student-Athlete of the Week honors. Johnson earned the distinction twice for offense: one following the first game of the season, and the other following the last game of the season. Johnson torched Claremont-M-S (Sept. 1) for 193 yards on 12 catches in the season-opener. He finished the year with even better numbers than the first game of the season, reaching 247 receiving yards on 14 catches at George Fox (Nov. 10).
Rutledge also earned two NWC Student-Athlete of the Week honors for offense. He threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns during a win at La Verne (Sept. 15), before sitting for the final 21 minutes of the game. Rutledge's second honor was deserved for throwing for 478 yards and four touchdowns in a win at Willamette (Oct. 27).
Freshman kicker/punter Alex Everett was named the NWC Student-Athlete of the Week for special teams following the game at La Verne (Sept. 15). Everett connected on all eight extra-point attempts. He also averaged 54.5 yards per punt, including a 75-yard missile.
Day was named NWC Student-Athlete of the Week for offense after reeling in two touchdown passes of more than 50 yards each against Redlands (Sept. 8). He finished the game with five catches for 163 yards.
Heimbach was the NWC Student-Athlete of the Week for offense after torching the Lutes for 193 receiving yards on 13 catches and three touchdowns. Teats was the NWC Student-Athlete of the Week for defense in the same week he was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week.
All in all, the Loggers finished the season with a 5-5 overall record.