Puget Sound tops defending SCIAC Champs, 21-17

Puget Sound tops defending SCIAC Champs, 21-17

TACOMA, Washington – It wasn't always pretty, but the Puget Sound football team opened its 2019 season with a 21-17 victory over Claremont-M-S in Baker Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Stags are the defending co-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Champions, and they competed in the NCAA D-III Championships last fall.

Saturday's win marks the Logger program's fifth opening-day victory in the past six years. 

Puget Sound (1-0) began the game with authority, as its opening drive went for 75 yards and resulted in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Murdock Rutledge to Jewell Day

However, the Loggers were unable to maintain the momentum during their next couple of possessions. CMS (0-1) got on the board with an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The Stags later took a 14-7 lead when it scored following another Puget Sound turnover.

Loggers finally broke through again late in the second quarter. Rutledge connected with AJ Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown that evened the score at halftime.

Both defenses clamped down even more the second half. CMS managed just a field goal in the second half, but its 17-14 advantage didn't last long.

With just a couple of seconds left in the third quarter, Johnson hauled in his second touchdown of the game. This one was 12-yard strike from Nik Bernhardt.

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter. The Stags regained possession with a minute back on its own eight-yard line, but a Jason Clayton interception sealed the victory.

Johnson finished the game with 150 yards on 14 catches. Rutledge threw for 262 yards and completed 28 out of 44 attempts.

Puget Sound's rushing attacked was efficient. Silas Washington and Duncan Varela combined for 85 yards on 14 carries (6.07 yards per carry).

Defensively, Dwight Jackson and Michael Zabran tied for the team lead in tackles with seven each. The Loggers totaled six sacks, including two by Jordan Ubaldo and 1.5 from Peter Ciari.

The Loggers are on the road next week for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Redlands, Sept. 14.