Itinerant wide receiver Pete Marine, a junior transfer from Cal State Northridge who is with his fourth college in four seasons, has made himself right at home at Cal Lutheran.
Marine, who played for Moorpark College before redshirting at Arizona State in 1991 and transferring to Northridge last season, made two crucial fourth-quarter plays to spark the Kingsmen to victory for the second week in a row at Mt. Clef Stadium.
Marine drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone to set up the Kingsmen's first touchdown and later scored on a 46-yard pass play to cement Cal Lutheran's 14-3 victory over Whittier in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener.
"He's been fantastic for us," Coach Joe Harper said of Marine. "A lot of time he's being double covered but he's able to work his way clear."
Last week, Marine returned a fourth-quarter punt 38 yards for the decisive touchdown in the Kingsmen's 10-9 win over Azusa Pacific, and caught seven passes for 79 yards.
Against the Poets (0-2), the 6-foot, 190-pounder worked himself open often enough to catch five passes for 139 yards.
"I did OK," Marine said with a smile.
With the Kingsmen (2-0) trailing, 3-0, midway through the fourth quarter, Kingsmen quarterback Adam Hacker looked for his new favorite target in the end zone on a third-down play from the eight-yard line.
Marine ran a short curl pattern and Hacker drilled the ball to him, but defensive back Willie Washington hit Marine before the pass arrived and was flagged for interference.
The Kingsmen were given a first down at the two-yard line and fullback Ivan Moreno barged into the end zone for a touchdown on the next play.
Whittier fumbled on the next possession and the ball was recovered by Cal Lutheran's Jeff Cahill at the Poets' 31-yard line.
After a Kingsmen clipping penalty, Hacker lofted the ball down the right sideline to a wide-open Marine at the Whittier 15 for the 46-yard touchdown, boosting Cal Lutheran's lead to 14-3.
"We were kind of saving that play until the end of the game," Marine said. "We ran a crossing pattern and the safety had to pick one of us (to cover). Whoever he picked, the other one would be open. It just worked out that I was the one."
The clinching score was a relief to the Kingsmen defense, which watched the offense squander several scoring opportunities before the final quarter.
"The defense deserves all the credit," Marine said. "They did a great job of keeping us close while the offense was sputtering a little bit."
Cal Lutheran advanced the ball inside Whittier's 15-yard line three times in the first half, but all three times the drive ended with a missed field goal by Dan Leffler. Leffler, a junior, missed from 36, 26, and 31 yards.
However, Whittier could not put the ball in the end zone, either. The Poets' only points came in the third quarter on a 47-yard field goal by Brian Balleweg, a junior who played for Simi Valley High.
Cal Lutheran drove 79 yards on its ensuing possession, but Steve Roussell was stopped at the one-yard line on fourth and goal.
"Too many times we gave up these missed opportunities," Kingsmen cornerback John Wilson said of the offense.
Cal Lutheran's defense, which has allowed only 12 points in two games, forced Whittier to punt after three plays. Moreno scored on the Kingsmen's next possession.
"We kept shutting (Whittier) down--we knew exactly what they were doing," Wilson said. "They were lucky they got that field goal."
The defense was particularly effective against Poet quarterback Eric Jencks, who did not complete a pass until the fourth quarter. Jencks finished with eight completions in 20 attempts for 64 yards and one interception.
Hacker completed 13 of 29 passes for 206 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The Poets gained 232 yards, with George Marquecho rushing for 124.
Roussell rushed for 68 yards in 21 carries to lead Cal Lutheran, which gained 299 yards.
Linebacker Lance Martin led the Kingsmen with 17 tackles.