Johnson sets another school record, but the Loggers lost at Pacific

Photo by Kurt DeVoe.
Photo by Kurt DeVoe.

FOREST GROVE, Oregon – Puget Sound All-American wide receiver AJ Johnson set the school record for most receiving yards in a game, and Duncan Varela ran for four touchdowns, but the Puget Sound football team lost a shootout at Pacific, 60-55, Saturday afternoon.

Johnson totaled 280 receiving yards on 16 catches, breaking Adam Kniffin's program record of 272 yards (vs. Chapman, 2012). In 2018, Johnson set the school record for most receiving yards in a season with 1,096. Varela is the first Logger to have four rushing touchdowns in a game since Silas Paul did it against Lewis & Clark during the 2008 season.

Johnson was one of three Loggers (5-3, 3-2 NWC) to post triple digits in receiving yards against Pacific (3-5, 3-2 NWC). Collin Heimbach finished with 148 yards on six catches, and Jewell Day also came away with six catches for 142 yards.

The Loggers receivers benefited from junior quarterback Murdock Rutledge's career-best game for passing yards. He threw for 581 yards and ran for 58 more. Rutledge posted the Loggers' first 500-yard passing game since Hans Fortune had 562 against Lewis & Clark during the 2016 season.

Saturday marked the most combined points in a Puget Sound game since Oct. 2010 when the Loggers lost to Lewis & Clark, 68-64.  

The Loggers continued to show a commitment to the ground game. One week after totaling 198 rushing yards in a home win over Whitworth (Oct. 26), the Loggers totaled 150 yards on the ground at Pacific.

Puget Sound wasted little time in opening the scoring as Rutledge and Johnson connected for a 57-yard touchdown just 2:10 into the game. Pacific answered with consecutive touchdowns, but the first of Varela's touchdowns tied the game, 14-14, at the end of the first quarter.

Six total touchdowns were scored by both teams in the second quarter, the last of which was a 28-yard scamper by Rutledge to give Puget Sound a 35-34 edge at halftime.

Pacific opened the second half with three unanswered touchdowns, which ultimately proved to be too much for the Loggers to overcome. Johnson's second touchdown of the game came with 4:14 left in regulation and cut the deficit to 54-49, but Pacific needed less than a minute to answer right back with a touchdown of its own.

Puget Sound returns to Baker Stadium for Senior Day, Nov. 9, when the Loggers host Willamette for a 1 p.m. kickoff.