Pacific kicks off the 2012 season at home with a night game against Simon Fraser

Thursday night football will come to Forest Grove this week when Pacific kicks off its football season under the lights against Simon Fraser.

The Boxers will be one of seven NCAA Division III teams in action on Thursday, signifying the start of the 2012 college football season with a 7 p.m. kickoff at Lincoln Park Stadium.

Pacific will be looking to avenge a 36-28 loss to Simon Fraser in last year’s season-opener, when the Clan scored 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to snatch a come-from-behind victory.

Now in its third season since reinstatement, the Pacific football program will be a year older and a year wiser, with 90 returning players on its 155-man roster, including All-Northwest Conference wideout Jordan Fukumoto and quarterback T.C. Campbell.

Fukumoto led the Boxers last season with 844 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, becoming the first Pacific player in nearly three decades to earn First Team All-NWC honors.

Campbell, meanwhile, led a prolific Pacific passing attack that ranked third in the conference and 23rd nationally with 282.3 yards per game. Campbell passed for 1,858 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2011, while backup P.J. Minaya added 671 yards while completing 64 percent of his passes.

While Campbell tops the depth chart to start the season, Pacific head coach Keith Buckley said that both quarterbacks will see plenty of action in 2012.

“There’s a debate as to whether you can have two quarterbacks and be successful,” Buckley said. “I think we have two very talented guys that give us a chance to win games.”

In order for the passing game to be successful, however, the Boxers will need to beef up a rushing attack that ranked last in the NWC with averages of 50.3 yards per game and 1.6 yards per carry.

Pacific will need to do that despite losing leading rusher Davis Jacobs, who ran for 258 yards last season. He will be replaced by a committee featuring junior Gunther Schultze and sophomores Bobby Ladiges and Devin McKinney.

Defensively, the Boxers hope to shore things up after allowing 412.4 yards and 39.3 points per game in 2011.

Leading the charge will be safety Bryan Mills, who earned honorable mention All-NWC status last year after finishing 10th in the conference with 62 tackles.

Mills will be joined by fellow returner Tim Hastie, a linebacker who was second on the team with 56 tackles, and Landon Aano, a defensive lineman who led the Boxers with 3.0 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.

The Boxers will be looking to win their first season opener since the 1990 season, when — ironically — they topped Simon Fraser, 21-14.

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