by Tyler Jezierski
Whitworth played a back-and-forth offensive game against Pacific at the Pine Bowl last Saturday, with the Boxers coming out on top 31-21. The Boxers improved their record to 5-0 overall, while the Pirates fell to 2-3 overall. The homecoming game had a total attendance of 2,250 who came to see the royalties of each dorm as well as the Pirates’ first conference matchup.
The Pirates scored after a forced fumble, resulting in a short field with freshman running back Griffin Hare’s 8-yard touchdown.
The Bucs continued their run with a drive of 77 yards in 14 plays. A pass from junior quarterback Bryan Peterson to senior wide receiver Devon Lind for a 10-yard touchdown pass increased the lead to 14-0.
The Boxers started to come back from the 14-0 deficit at the end of the second quarter, scoring from a 55-yard drive in five plays. Senior quarterback P.J. Minaya passed the ball to senior wide receiver Jordan Fukumoto for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:14 left in the half.
The third quarter proved tough for the Pirates’ defense, giving up 17 points to the Boxers.
“It was at a very high intensity,” senior defensive back Tevin Tyus said. “We knew our defense had to pick it up if we were going to stay in the game.”
Minaya threw a 22-yard touchdown pass, tying the score at 14-14. Junior running back Deven McKinney ran for an 11-yard touchdown to cap off three unanswered scores and give the Boxers a 21-14 lead.
A combination of shortcomings proved to be the downfall of the Whitworth offense when they went into a slump after scoring two touchdowns to start the game, senior running back DJ Tripoli said.
“I think we lost a little bit of the intensity we had at the start of the game, and Pacific just flat-out made some plays,” Tripoli said.
As the third quarter came to a close, a 27-yard field goal by Pacific, boosted the lead to 24-14.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge since they have had four years together in the program,” Peterson said. “They have four-year starters who have the experience and are improving every year. What they brought to the table — the offense was expected. We knew we had to score to win the game.”
The Pirates continued their early scoring routines in the fourth quarter on a seven play, 60-yard drive. Peterson’s 9-yard pass to senior fullback Alfonso Miranda for a touchdown closed the gap to 24-21.
However, Whitworth’s comeback attempt fell short after Pacific put the game away on a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, to go up by two scores.
“We didn’t come out as aggressive in the second half, and that caused us to lose the momentum, at which point it became an uphill battle from there,” senior defensive back Fernando Noriega said.
The Pirates and Boxers tied with 20 total first downs, but the five sacks by the Boxer defense stagnated the Pirates’ offense.
Tyus had seven solo tackles and one assisted tackle. Senior defensive lineman Kyle Davidson had the only sack for Whitworth’s defense, and had four solo tackles and two assisted tackles.
“We gave up too many big plays. We played hard all game but we didn’t play smart at times,” junior linebacker Grant Livingston said.
The Pirates will be making some changes in communication with defensive play against Willamette this weekend, Livingston said.
“Stopping the run first and communicating more in the pass game,” Livingston said. “Willamette is a good team so we need to show up ready to play.”
The Pirates also look to make drastic changes to the offensive play against Willamette this weekend after their slump after scoring two touchdowns at the beginning of the game, Tripoli said.
“Everyone needs to do their job on a consistent basis, myself included,” Tripoli said. “We cannot take plays off. If we focus on that and trust in each other, there is no doubt in my mind that we can beat Willamette.”
Whitworth will face Willamette in Salem, Ore., Saturday Oct. 12.
Contact Tyler Jezierski at email@example.com