It is back on the road for the Whitworth football team this week, the Bucs' fifth road game in their first seven contests. And the challenge will be great as the Pirates head to McMinnville, Oregon to take on 3rd-ranked Linfield in a Northwest Conference counter. The game will kick off at 1:30 p.m. and be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the internet on KSBN.net.
At 5-1 the Pirates are coming off of their first loss of the season, a 38-24 setback to newly-ranked, and still unbeaten, Willamette last Saturday in the Pine Bowl. Linfield (4-0 overall, 1-0 NWC) is coming off of a bye week.
Live Links for Saturday's game:
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Whitworth (5-0, 1-0 NWC)
Linfield (4-0, 1-0 NWC)
Saturday - Oct. 13
The Pirates: Whitworth played a strong first half and led 17-14 going to the locker rooms against Willamette. But the Bearcats played better in the second half and came away with the 38-24 victory, spoiling the Pirates' Homecoming on Saturday.
Willamette outgained Whitworth 598-373 and finished with a 26-21 advantage in first downs.
Bryan Peterson completed 24 of his 43 passes for 262 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Despite getting sacked four times, he still finished with a net of 19 yards rushing, including a touchdown. Jake DeGooyer caught ten passes for 104 yards with one touchdown. Devon Lind added four receptions for 43 yards, while Austin Ehlo caught his third touchdown of the season. Ronnie Thomas finished with 85 yards rushing on 22 carries. It was the first time this season he didn't hit 100 yards or score a touchdown.
Paul Miller, Casey Monahan and Jesse Bresser each finished with eight tackles to lead the Pirate defense. Miller and Monahan both broke up a pair of passes. De' Hall had one of his best days for the Whitworth defense, totaling seven stops and intercepting his second pass of the season. Nic Brockhoff and Drew Powell also picked off passes.
Robert Thullen kicked a 29-yard field goal in the first quarter and made all three of his extra points. Austin Ehlo averaged 36.5 yards per punt. Paul Miller averaged 23 yards per kickoff return.
Prime Time Ronnie: Ronnie Thomas is having another outstanding season running the ball for the Pirates. He is second in the NWC, and ranks among NCAA Division III leaders, in yards rushing per game (126.3) and continues to lead the conference in rushing touchdowns (8). He currently ranks 19th in Division III in rushing yards per game. His streak of seven consecutive games with more than 100 yards rushing, dating back to the final two games of 2011, came to an end on Saturday.
Perhaps his most impressive statistic is this one – in six games and over the course of 169 carries, Thomas has not fumbled.
Last season Thomas led the NWC in rushing and rushing touchdowns, earning First Team All-Northwest Conference honors.
Big Jake: Wide receiver Jake DeGooyer continues to come up big for the Pirates this season. He leads the NWC with 47 pass receptions and ranks second in the NWC in receiving yards (717) and receiving yards per game (119.5). His seven touchdown receptions also rank second in the conference.
Miller's Early Returns: Paul Miller continues to lead the Northwest Conference in kickoff returns, averaging 26.9 yards per attempt. He has a season-long of 57 yards and five returns of 30 yards or longer.
Great Start: Whitworth's 5-1 start is the team's best since 2007 when the Pirates also started 5-1 on the way to an 8-2 finish and a second consecutive NWC title. 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, this year 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 51-14 in the first quarter of the six 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. 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), LB Tevin Tyus (broken ankle) and safety Sean McNealey (knee). On offense the Pirates saw OL Greg Vibbert (broken ankle) go out in the game at La Verne. PK Dominic Aliano is also likely done for the year with a hip injury and LB Grant Livingston (knee) is still uncertain for the remainder of the schedule.
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), the Hall of Fame/Homecoming game vs. Willamette (Oct. 6) and the Oct. 20th game against Puget Sound will all be shown live, while the regular season finale against Lewis & Clark (Nov. 10) will be shown on a delayed basis following an Eastern Washington game. 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 94-75 record at Whitworth. He has led the Pirates to an 81-41 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 124-96 in his 22nd season as a head coach. He previously was head coach at Eureka College in Illinois.
|Last Week's Game:||Willamette 38, Whitworth 24||Box Score||Wrap up|
|This Week's Game:||Oct. 13 at Linfield||1:30 pm||McMinnville, Ore.|
|Next Week's Game:||Oct. 20 vs. Puget Sound||1:00 pm||Whitworth Pine Bowl|
The Wildcats: Linfield is 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the NWC after last week's bye, the team's second of the season. The Wildcats are ranked third in this week's D3football.com poll and fourth in the AFCA Division III coaches poll.
Linfield is averaging 35.8 points and 427.8 yards per contest, with a nice balance between passing yards (254.0) and rushing yards (173.8) per game. The Wildcats have allowed 24.5 points and 382.2 yards per game. Senior QB Mickey Inns has completed 54.2% of his passes for 987 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has spread the ball around to an impressive group of receivers. Twelve different Wildcats have caught a pass this season, and most impressively, nine different Linfield players have caught at least one touchdown pass. His favorite targets have been senior wide outs Deidra Wiersma and Lucas Jepson who have combined for 35 catches for 363 yards. Senior RB Josh Hill leads the NWC in rushing yards per game (133.7), but he missed Linfield's most recent game at Pacific Lutheran on September 29 and his status for Saturday is uncertain. Senior Josh Repp leads the conference in punting average at 41.6 yards per attempt. Junior LB Dom Forrest tops the Wildcat defenders with 33 tackles. Junior DE Brynnan Hyland leads the NWC with six sacks this season for 37 yards.
Linfield fell behind by two touchdowns twice before rallying to defeat Pacific Lutheran 31-24 on September 29 in Puyallup. Freshman RB John Shaffer ran 32 yards for the winning touchdown with 7:03 remaining and Colin Forman snatched a game-sealing interception with under two minutes to play. Inns completed 17 of 31 passes for 208 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Schaffer, splitting time in place of the injured Hill, finished with 88 yards on 15 carries (5.9 yards per run).
Joe Smith, a Wildcat alum and long time assistant and former defensive coordinator, took over as Linfield's head coach in 2006. He has a 53-13 record in his seventh season leading the Wildcats. He has won the last three NWC Coach of the Year awards.
Last Meeting: Heading into last season's game, fifth-ranked Linfield had not allowed more than 14 points in any contest all season and had given up a total of 19 points in the first half all year. But by halftime Whitworth led 25-14 and seemed on the way to a monumental upset. However the Wildcats took control with 28 straight points and appeared on the verge of running away with the game in the fourth quarter. But the Pirates responded with two straight touchdowns of their own. If not for a clutch pass completion by Inns for a first down on third and 11 with just under two minutes to play, Whitworth would have gotten the ball back once more with a chance to win the game, but instead fell short 42-38. The Pirates missed four extra points in the game.
Bryan Peterson had a big day, completing 23 of 42 passes for 274 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. Austin Ehlo caught three first half touchdown passes and finished with seven receptions for 88 yards. Jake DeGooyer added seven catches for 76 yards. Kekoa Turbeville caught his first career touchdown pass. Ronnie Thomas was a study in patience. After struggling to gain yards against the tough Linfield defense for three quarters, he broke loose for 129 of his 156 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 78-yard run for a touchdown, the longest play from scrimmage the Wildcats allowed last season.
Paul Miller led Whitworth with nine tackles (six solo) and intercepted a pass deep in Whitworth territory. Drew Powell started a game for the first time and came up with six tackles and a fumble recovery. Ehlo averaged 39.1 yards on 10 punts.
The Series: Linfield leads the overall series 30-5-2 and the Wildcats have won the last four games. The first meeting was a 13-13 tie in 1952. Linfield's largest margin of victory was 61-0 in 1966, while Whitworth's largest win was 41-13 in 1954. The Wildcats once had a 14 game winning streak in the series. Whitworth's last win was a 10-6 victory in Spokane in 2007. The Pirates' last win in McMinnville came in 2006 (17-13).