Whitworth to Open NWC Slate at Pacific

The Whitworth team takes the field for its first home game of 2012.
The Whitworth team takes the field for its first home game of 2012.

Now it gets serious for the Whitworth football team.  The unbeaten non-conference schedule is behind the Bucs and Whitworth turns its attention to Pacific University for the Northwest Conference opener for both teams on Saturday in Forest Grove, Oregon. The game will kick off at 1:00 p.m. and be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the internet on KSBN.net.

Whitworth is 4-0 following last Saturday's 17-14 win over Chapman in the Pirates' home opener.  The unbeaten start is Whitworth's best since 2006 when the Bucs went 10-0 during the regular season.  Pacific is 1-2 coming off of a non-conference loss at Willamette on Saturday.  The Boxers picked up their win with an impressive 27-6 victory at Occidental (Calif.) on September 8th.

Saturday's game is Homecoming for Pacific.

Live Links for Saturday's game:

Live video provided by Pacific (Pay Per View)

Live stats provided by Pacific

Live KSBN radio broadcast


Whitworth (4-0, 0-0 NWC)


Pacific (1-2, 0-0 NWC)

Saturday - Sept. 29
1:00 pm
Lincoln Park Stadium
Forest Grove, Ore.

The History:
Series: 18-2-1, Whitworth
Last Meeting: 2011 -
Whitworth 48, Pacific 6
Last Pacific Win: 1978 (31-22)
Biggest Whitworth Win: 45-0 (1976)
Biggest Pacific Win: 21-0 (1910)
First Meeting: 1910

The Pirates: Whitworth rallied from a 14-7 halftime deficit and then held on for a 17-14 win over Chapman in the 2012 home opener, improving the Pirates to 4-0.

The Pirates' special teams came up big again, and may have been the difference between a win and a loss on Saturday.  Some highlights: Paul Miller set up the Bucs' first touchdown with a 49-yard kickoff return into Chapman territory in the first quarter.  Robert Thullen continued to kick well in place of projected season-starter Dominic Aliano.  Thullen made a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that provided the winning margin and also made both PATs.  Perhaps just as important, he averaged 61.5 yards on his kickoffs, allowing the Pirate coverage team to keep the Panthers deep in their territory.  Austin Ehlo averaged better than 38 yards per punt.

Meanwhile Chapman missed a pair of field goals, including one from 33 yards as time expired that would have sent the game into overtime. 

Despite heavy losses to injury, the Whitworth defense shut out Chapman in the second half and limited a team that scored 55 points in its season opener to only 14 points on Saturday.  Miller had a big game from his corner back spot, leading the Pirates with ten solo tackles and one pass breakup.  Casey Monahan made six tackles and picked off his second pass of the season.  Kainoa Raguindon broke up four passes to go along with five tackles. 

After getting outgained 251-131 in the first half, the Whitworth offense found life in the second half.  Ronnie Thomas broke free on a 69-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half to pull the Pirates to a 14-14 tie.  Thomas finished with 134 yards rushing on 22 carries with a touchdown, his seventh of the season.  Bryan Peterson completed 12 of 20 passes for 134 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  He also was able to run for a pair of first downs.  Jake DeGooyer caught five passes for 62 yards, while Connor Williams caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Chapman outgained Whitworth 417-288 and led in first downs 24-13.

Prime Time Ronnie: Ronnie Thomas is having another outstanding season running the ball for the Pirates.  He leads the NWC, and ranks among NCAA Division III leaders, in total yards rushing (539), yards rushing per game (134.8), and rushing touchdowns.  He currently ranks 13th in Division III in rushing yards per game and is tied for 27th in scoring.  He currently has a streak of six consecutive games with more than 100 yards rushing, dating back to the final two games of 2011.

Last season Thomas led the NWC in rushing and rushing touchdowns, earning First Team All-Northwest Conference honors.

Great Start:  Whitworth's 4-0 start is the team's first since 2006.  But a closer look reveals an even more impressive fact.  Only three times in school history had 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 34-7 in the first quarter of the four contests.  Chapman's first touchdown on Saturday was the first points allowed in the opening quarter this season.

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.  All three of the Pirates' first opponents were playing their first game of the season.  The rest of the way Whitworth faces 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.

Out for the season:  The list of players lost to season-ending injuries continues to lengthen.  On defense the Pirates have lost FS Fernando Noriega (broken ankle), LB Ryan Loutsis (knee) and LB Tevin Tyus (broken ankle).  On offense the Pirates saw OL Greg Vibbert (broken ankle) go out in the game at La Verne. 

The Pirates are hoping for a return to action by LB Grant Livingston (knee) and DB Sean McNealey (knee).

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 27 of the last 36 against schools from the Golden State and are 30-17-1 all-time against Californian colleges. The Bucs are 14-5-1 at home against California schools and 16-12 on the road.  Whitworth played three this season and earned victories over Whittier (away), La Verne (away) and Chapman (home).

The Head Coach: John Tully is in his 18th season as head coach of the Pirates with a 93-74 record at Whitworth. He has led the Pirates to an 80-40 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: at Whitworth 17, Chapman 14 Box Score Wrap up
This Week's Game: Sept. 29 at Pacific (Ore.) 1:00 pm Forest Grove, Ore.
Next Week's Game: Oct. 6 vs. Willamette 1:00 pm Whitworth Pine Bowl




Click here for the full schedule

The Boxers: Pacific University continues the process of rebuilding a football program that once lay dormant for almost 20 years.  Now in their third season back, the Boxers look ready to improve on last season's 1-8 record.  They already have an impressive 27-6 win at Occidental on September 8th – their first road victory under third-year head coach Keith Buckley. 

Last Saturday Pacific fell 51-17 at Willamette in a non-conference preview of the league-counting contest that will occur later in the season.  Six turnovers doomed the Boxers, who hung close for much of the first half.  QB PJ Minaya completed 22 of 36 passes for 260 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.  Darin Kamealoha caught six of those passes for 112 yards, while Jakob Lawrence had a touchdown reception among his three catches for 45 yards.  Bobby Ladiges ran 17 times for 44 yards and a score.

The Boxers have had major injury issues of their own on offense.  All-NWC receiver Jordan Fukumoto went down with an injury in the win at Occidental.  T.C. Campbell started the season at QB, but played in only one game.

So far this year Minaya has completed 58.3% of his passes for 575 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions.  Kamealoha has 15 catches for 260 yards and a score, while Ladiges has rushed for 103 total yards and two touchdowns.  Josh Brinkworth leads the Pacific defense with 31 tackles. 

Buckley is in his third season at Pacific. He was previously the Assistant Head Coach at UC Davis from 2007-09 and had served on the Aggies' staff since 2005. He is a 1996 graduate from UCD.

Last Meeting:  Whitworth posted season-highs for points, total yards and rushing yards in last season's 48-6 win over Pacific in the Pine Bowl. More important, the Pirates ended a four-game losing streak - their first since 1999.  The running game, behind the improved play of the offensive line, picked up 313 yards on the ground. It was Whitworth's highest single-game rushing total since the Bucs ran for 356 yards in the 2008 season finale against Lewis & Clark. Ronnie Thomas picked up 159 yards on 20 carries (7.9 yards per carry) and scored on touchdown runs of two, 13, and 46 yards.  The Whitworth defense had a very strong showing against a team that normally throws for a lot of yards. But Whitworth held Pacific to season-lows for passing yards (151) and total yards (193). Paul Miller and Ryan Loutsis finished with six tackles each to lead the team. Miller had one for loss of seven yards and intercepted a pass at the end of the first half. Loutsis had two tackles for losses of eight yards. Kainoa Raguindin intercepted two Pacific passes. Whitworth intercepted three passes in the game, without giving up a turnover of its own.

The Series: Whitworth leads the all-time series 18-2-1. The teams first met in 1910 with Pacific earning a 21-0 victory. The Pirates and Boxers would not meet again until 1967 when Whitworth won 21-0. The teams played every year between 1973 and 1984. The series resumed again from 1987 - 1991. Then Pacific dropped its program and did not field a varsity team from 1992 through 2009 before resuming in 2010. The Pirates are 12-0-1 in the last 13 meetings.