After a long three-game road stretch to start the 2012 season, Whitworth football will finally play at home on Saturday when the Pirates host Chapman University in the Pine Bowl at 1:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast locally on cable channel SWX and be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the internet on KSBN.net.
Whitworth is 3-0 following those three road victories. The unbeaten start is the Pirates' best since 2006 when the Bucs went 10-0 during the regular season. Chapman is 1-0 coming off of a bye last Saturday. The Panthers opened their season with a 55-35 win over Puget Sound on September 8th.
Whitworth (3-0, 0-0 NWC)
Chapman (1-0, 0-0 SCIAC)
Saturday - Sept. 22
The Pirates: Whitworth used a kickoff return and two interception returns to score three of the touchdowns in Saturday's 45-20 win at La Verne on a night when the offense was kept in check much of the night.
Danny Welstad's 61-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the first half gave Whitworth a 14-10 lead, and the Leopards would never lead again. The freshman defensive end for the Pirates was also an all-star running back in high school, but there is no way the La Verne coaches could have known that when they decided to kick high and short after taking the 10-7 lead.
Christian Doucett made another big special teams play for the Pirates early in the fourth quarter when he got to ULV punter Jeremy Brown and forced Brown into a fumble that Doucett recovered at the Leopard's six yard line. Three plays later Bryan Peterson hit Austin Ehlo with an eight-yard touchdown pass for a 31-13 Pirate lead.
Other special teams standouts included Robert Thullen, who kicked very well in place of injured Dominic Aliano. Thullen made all six of his PAT attempts and a 26-yard field goal. Also, Austin Ehlo was back punting for the Pirates, and after a couple rough kicks to begin the game, he averaged better than 40 yards per kick in the second half.
In addition to Doucett's play on the ULV punt, the Pirate defense forced three other turnovers for a total of four in the game. After the defensive line forced Leopard QB Travis Carter to overthrow his target on a screen pass, De' Hall returned the interception 33 yards for a score in the third quarter, giving Whitworth a 24-13 lead. Nic Brockhoff, who had a strong game overall with eight tackles, including a key tackle for loss, picked off a pass and returned it 37 yards for the game's final touchdown with less than two minutes to play. Jesse Bresser, making his first start at safety, led the team with 12 tackles and also forced a fumble that was recovered by Tevin Tyus at the end of the first half.
Ronnie Thomas had a tough time finding running room for much of the game until he broke free for a 75 yard touchdown run late in the game. He finished with 135 yards on 27 carries. Peterson completed 21 of 31 passes for 154 yards with two scores and no interceptions. He was sacked four times. Jake DeGooyer caught seven passes for 93 yards and a score, while Ehlo finished with two catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Whitworth was outgained 390 – 252 and the Leopards had a first down advantage of 20-9.
Great Start: Whitworth's 3-0 start is the team's first since 2006. But a closer look reveals an even more impressive fact. Only three times in school history has Whitworth begun a season with three consecutive road games. The Pirates have now won all three of those games twice, in 2012 and in 1955 when Whitworth went 9-0 in the midst of a 20-game winning streak.
Great Start – Part 2: Whitworth has been especially strong out of the gate this season, both on offense and defense. The Pirates have outscored opponents by a combined 27-0 in the first quarter of the three contests.
Seriously?: Whitworth's schedule-maker didn't do the Pirates any favors in 2012. The Pirates will have to face a well-rested opponent seven times this fall. La Verne was the third straight opponent against which the Pirates opened their season. The rest of the way Whitworth will have to face an opponent coming off of a bye four times: Sept. 22 against Chapman, Oct. 13 at Linfield, Oct. 20 against Puget Sound and Nov. 10 against Lewis & Clark.
On the Air Again: Whitworth's games will once again be carried live this season on KSBN 1230am in Spokane. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of almost 20 years. Bob Castle, whose voice has become synonymous with Whitworth athletics on the radio, is back as the voice of the Pirates in 2012-13. Bob has called Whitworth games for the past 12 seasons, as well as in 1997-98. Bob has 20 years in radio and his experience as a sports broadcaster includes stints as the voice of Spokane Indians Baseball, Gonzaga University baseball and Washington State women's basketball.
Four SWX Broadcasts: Local cable station SWX will carry all of Whitworth's games this season: The home opener vs. Chapman (Sept. 22) and the regular season finale against Lewis & Clark (Nov. 10) will both be shown live, while the Hall of Fame/Homecoming game vs. Willamette (Oct. 6) and the Oct. 20th game against Puget Sound will be shown on a delayed basis following Eastern Washington games. Sam Adams and Mike Peterson will provide play by play and color analysis. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 115 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho. Click here for a complete list of station numbers throughout the Eastern Washington/North Idaho region.
Team Captains: The Pirate team captains in 2012 are offensive lineman Liam Brown, running back Ronnie Thomas and linebacker Scott Carr. Brown and Thomas are first time captains, while Carr served in that role last season.
Looking Back at 2011: Whitworth finished 4-6 after starting the season 1-5. Of the five losses in the first six games, two came on field goals on the last play of the game. Two were by a single touchdown. Then the young team found itself and won three of its final four contests – including a double-overtime victory at Willamette. The lone loss in that final stretch was 42-38 against highly-ranked Linfield. Ronnie Thomas (running back) and Austin Ehlo (punter) were named First Team All-NWC.
NWC Poll: Whitworth finished third in the NWC preseason coaches poll with 26 points, three points behind second place Pacific Lutheran. Whitworth got one first place vote, while defending champion Linfield finished first in the poll with the other six first place votes. Link to NWC Football Coaches Poll.
Racking Up the Miles: Whitworth opened the season with three long road trips in 2012. The Pirates flew more than 6,250 miles over the course of the first three weeks of the season following trips to Minnesota and California (twice) .
Vs. California: The Pirates have won 26 of the last 35 against schools from the Golden State and are 29-17-1 all-time against Californian colleges. The Bucs are 13-5-1 at home against California schools and 16-12 on the road. Whitworth played four games against schools from California in 2011 and went 1-3. The Pirates play three such games this season.
The Head Coach: John Tully is in his 18th season as head coach of the Pirates with a 92-74 record at Whitworth. He has led the Pirates to a 79-40 record over the past 12+ years and has been named the NWC Coach of the Year three times (2001, 2006 and 2007). Tully is the winningest coach in school history, as well as the longest serving Pirate football coach. Prior to his arrival, Whitworth had suffered through 11 losing seasons in 12 years. Overall he is 123-95 in his 22nd season as a head coach. He previously was head coach at Eureka College in Illinois.
|Last Week's Game:||Whitworth 45, at La Verne 20||Box Score||Wrap up|
|This Week's Game:||Sept. 22 vs. Chapman||1:00 pm||Whitworth Pine Bowl|
|Next Week's Game:||Sept. 29 at Pacific (Ore.)||1:00 pm||Forest Grove, Ore.|
The Panthers: Chapman, a long-time independent Division III program in Southern California, is now a full member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference. The Panthers played a SCIAC schedule last year, but were ineligible to compete for the conference championship. This year the title is up for grabs for the private school located in Orange, California. Bob Owens is in his seventh season as the head coach and has a record of 47-62, including last year's 4-5 mark.
Chapman returns nine starters each on offense and defense from 2011.
The Panthers opened the season with a dominating 55-35 win over Puget Sound on October 8th. Chapman jumped to leads of 28-0 after one quarter and 42-14 at halftime. QB Kean Stancil, one of the few new starters, accounted for 372 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. He completed 26 of 32 (82%) of his passes for 339 yards and two scores and ran nine times for 33 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite targets were Kali'I Kunitomo, who caught eight passes for 152 yards and one touchdown, and Robin Harris, who had six for 60 yards and a score. Jeremiah McKibbins led the ground game with 154 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. The Panthers finished with 615 yards of total offense.
Michael Mehlhaff led the Chapman defense with seven tackles, while defensive lineman Elliot Cooley had two sacks for losses of 14 yards.
Last Meeting: Mauricio Alfonso kicked a 32-yard field goal with 6.8 seconds left in the game to lift Chapman to a 16-14 win over visiting Whitworth in the football opener for both schools at Ernie Chapman Stadium. Fernando Noriega's interception deep in Whitworth territory with less than four minutes to play appeared to secure a win for the Pirates, but the Panther defense forced a quick three-and-out and Chapman took over in Whitworth territory with 1:22 to go. Whitworth scored on its first and last drives of the first half to take a 14-10 lead into halftime. Ronnie Thomas broke off a 53-yard run to set up the Pirates' first score of the game - a six-yard touchdown fade catch by Austin Ehlo. Ehlo then added a 12-yard TD reception at the end of the half.
The Series: Chapman's win over Whitworth last year was the Panther's first in five total meetings. Whitworth won the first meeting 49-22 in Spokane in 2000. The following year Whitworth began a march toward a Northwest Conference title with a season-opening 21-10 win over the Panthers in California. In 2008 the Pirates pulled out a close 41-35 decision on the road and in 2009 Whitworth defeated Chapman 23-8 in Spokane.