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Boxers fall 30-28 to Adrian College in home opener

TANNER BOYLE PHOTOGRAPHY - Pacific FootballThere was no fairytale ending to this story.

The Boxers kicked off their 2016 college football campaign Friday night at Hanson Stadium, but while there were some ups and downs, highs and lows and ebbs and flows to the game versus Adrian College from Michigan, it will likely go down as one that got away for this Pacific squad.

In the end, Adrian’s Bulldogs prevailed 30-28.

“We played some unclean football,” said head coach Keith Buckley. “We had some penalties, dropped balls, first-game-jitters stuff. But even with that we had a chance to win the football game.”

Adrian struck first, scoring on their second drive of the game when quarterback Stephen Milarch hit Randy Fry on a 26-yard fade route in the corner of the end zone. The Bulldogs started the drive on the Boxers 37-yard line following a poor punt by Pacific’s Ryan Carhart. Three plays later — which included a five-yard run, 10-yard pass and the aforementioned touchdown throw — Adrian College had their first lead 7-0. They followed that up with a 10-play, 50-yard drive culminating in a 41-yard field goal by kicker Cameron Cook, and on their next possession — which started at their own 42-yard line — tacked on a 46-yard field goal to give the visiting team an early 13-0 lead.

The Boxers scored their first points just 1:38 later, when Pacific quarterback Campbell Summerfield hit receiver Kobe Williams on a 46-yard seam route. Pacific took a 14-13 lead just five minutes later when Summerfield struck again, this time from 14 yards out to Chad Aragon, the 5-foot-8 junior from Honolulu, Hawaii.

The game appeared to be getting away from Adrian College when Pacific running back Kamana Pimental took the opening play of the second half 75 yards for the Boxers’ third touchdown, giving them a 21-13 lead and threatening to blow the game open. But Adrian would counter with a big play of their own on the very next drive.

Facing a third and long, and on the heels of allowing 21 unanswered points, the Bulldogs completed a short crossing route to receiver Darius Philon, who sped 65 yards to the Boxer 1-yard line. Adrian, following a sack, had to settle for a third Cameron Cook field goal, making the score 21-16. But a another poor punt set the Bulldogs up at Pacific’s 37-yard line and they capitalized, scoring six plays later on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Milarch to tight end Joey Koscielski.

Milarch finished the game 21-36, throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns.

Pacific fell further behind when Adrian receiver Jerron McGaw caught a 16-yard pass from Milarch. The drive started at Pacific’s 39-yard line and marked the fifth scoring drive which started on the Boxers side of the 50-yard line.

“Field position is always a big factor, and we’ve got to get better at managing it,” Buckley said.

In addition to Adrian’s good field position fortune, Pacific seemed to start nearly every drive inside their own 20-yard line.

“We need to get better at fielding punts,” said Buckley. “We let a couple of those drop and instead of a 30- or 40-yard net gain, it was 50 or 60.”

The Boxers scored late on a 19-yard pass from Summerfield to Tyler Nakama, closing the gap to 30-28, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Bulldogs and a play later the game was in the books.

Pacific returns to action Saturday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m. against the University of Dubuque at Hanson Field.