Whitworth Headed to PLU for NWC Showdown
Thanks to a dominating win over Puget Sound two Saturdays ago, the Whitworth football team heads into the final two games of the regular season with much to play for. Not the least of which is the possibility of an eight-win season. There have only been seven of those in Pirate football history.
Whitworth heads into Saturday's game at Pacific Lutheran coming off of its only bye of the season. The game at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup will kick off at 12:30 p.m. and be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the internet on KSBN.net.
Whitworth (6-2 overall, 2-2 NWC) defeated Puget Sound 70-11 at home on October 13. Pacific Lutheran (5-2, 4-1) defeated UPS 41-14 in the Battle of Tacoma last Saturday.
Live Links for Saturday's game:
Whitworth (6-2, 2-2 NWC)
Pacific Lutheran (5-2, 4-1 NWC)
Saturday - Nov. 3
The Pirates: Most everything went right for Whitworth in its 70-11 win over Puget Sound on October 20th. The team was both explosive and balanced on offense, opportunistic and consistent on defense and solid in the special teams.
Whitworth outgained the Loggers 494-314 and forced six UPS turnovers. Much of the damage was done in the first half as the Pirates built a 49-0 lead at halftime.
Bryan Peterson completed 11 of 13 passes for 183 yards and four touchdowns in just two quarters of play. He threw touchdown passes to Connor Williams, Jake DeGooyer, Austin Ehlo and Wade Meyer. Michael McCune played most of the second half at QB and only threw two passes. Both went for touchdowns, the first to Williams and the second to Alfonso Miranda. DeGooyer led the Whitworth receivers with three grabs for 43 yards.
Ronnie Thomas gained 122 yards on 23 carries and added two more rushing touchdowns to lift his season total to ten. Whitworth finished with 225 yards on the ground as eight other ball carriers got at least one rushing attempt.
Whitworth picked off five UPS passes and held the normally-prolific Logger passing attack to 172 yards (just over half of their per-game average this season). Scott Carr led the way with two interceptions, one he returned 31 yards for Whitworth's second touchdown of the game. Sam Schoesler also returned an interception for a score in the fourth quarter, from 86 yards away. Jesse Bresser led the way with six solo tackles, while Danny Welstad was also in on six stops. Aaron Cochran had two sacks.
Bye-Week: Whitworth is coming off of its only bye of the season. The Pirate players had a chance to catch up academically and physically last week. After practicing for three days (Tuesday through Thursday), the team had Friday through Sunday completely off. The team resumes its regular schedule this week.
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 yards rushing per game (112.5) and continues to lead the conference in rushing touchdowns (10). 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 October 6th against Willamette, but he has a total of six 100-yard games in 2012.
Perhaps his most impressive statistic is this one – in eight games and over the course of 208 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 56 pass receptions, is second in receiving yards (829) and is third in receiving yards per game (103.6). His eight touchdown receptions also rank third in the conference.
Williams – When it Counts: Buddy Ryan, the late NFL coach, once said of one of his receivers – "All he does is catch touchdowns!" The same could be said of Pirate back-up tight end Connor Williams. Williams has caught five passes for 154 yards this season (30.8 yards per catch). All five have gone for touchdowns. His touchdown-per-reception ratio (not an official NCAA statistic) probably leads the football universe.
Great Start: 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 73-28 in the first quarter of the eight contests.
Seriously?: Whitworth's schedule-maker didn't do the Pirates any favors in 2012. The Pirates will have had 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: Following the October 13 loss at Linfield the list of players lost to season-ending injuries continued to lengthen. Paul Miller (knee) was added to the list of seven injured on defense which already included FS Fernando Noriega (broken ankle), LB Ryan Loutsis (knee), LB Tevin Tyus (broken ankle) and safety Sean McNealey (knee) who are all out for the year. LB Grant Livingston (knee) is still uncertain for the remainder of the schedule. On offense the Pirates saw OL Greg Vibbert (broken ankle) go out in the game at La Verne. PK Dominic Aliano is done for the year with a hip injury.
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 95-76 record at Whitworth. He has led the Pirates to an 82-42 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 125-97 in his 22nd season as a head coach. He previously was head coach at Eureka College in Illinois.
|Last Game:||at Whitworth 70, Puget Sound 11||Box Score||Wrap up|
|This Week's Game:||Nov. 3 at Pacific Lutheran||12:30 pm||Puyallup, Wash.|
|Next Week's Game:||Nov. 10 vs. Lewis & Clark||12:30 pm||Whitworth Pine Bowl|
The Lutes: Pacific Lutheran comes into the weekend 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the NWC. Both of the Lutes' losses have come to teams likely to win their conference titles – Linfield in the NWC and Cal Lutheran in the SCIAC. PLU has its sights set on a possible at-large bid to the NCAA playoffs if it can win its last two games (PLU closes with a non-conference game at Menlo).
Scott Westering has compiled a 45-34 overall record in his ninth season as Pacific Lutheran University head coach. Named to the position in February 2004, Scott took over for his father, Hall-of-Famer Frosty, who served as PLU football head coach for 32 years. Scott had been the offensive coordinator since 1983.
PLU's formula for success this season is very efficient. The Lutes are balanced on offense and opportunistic on defense. PLU averages nearly 400 yards of offense per game, 256 per game through the air and 138 per game on the ground. The Lutes lead the league in defensive interceptions (17) and have 21 sacks. Because of the offensive balance and the aggressive defense, PLU leads the NWC by a wide margin in time of possession (34:22 per game).
Sophomore QB Dalton Ritchey has completed 61.1% of his passes for 1,786 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His favorite target has been fellow sophomore WR Kyle Warner, who has 45 catches for 784 yards and five touchdowns. Kellen Westering has added 26 catches for 433 yards and three scores. Brandon James leads the running game with 394 yards and four touchdowns. But four different PLU players have run for at least 150 yards this season.
Taylor Angevine leads the defense with five interceptions, while Jonny Volland has picked off four passes. Linebacker Ben Kaestner has 4.5 sacks and eight total tackles for loss, while Greg Hibbard leads the team in overall tackles.
Last week PLU trailed 14-7 in the second quarter before breaking away for a 41-14 win at Puget Sound. Cody Pohren ran for 100 yards and a TD on only 13 carries in very rainy and slick conditions. Niko Madison added 61 yards and two running TDs. Ritchey completed 12 of 20 passes for 136 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Warner caught seven passes for 115 yards and a score. Sean McFadden led the defense with nine tackles.
Last Meeting: Whitworth battled back from a 14-3 deficit to tie the game 17-17 with 55 seconds to play. The game appeared headed to overtime until Nick Kaylor booted a 36-yard field goal as time expired to give PLU the win on Whitworth's Homecoming and Hall of Fame Saturday.
Bryan Peterson drove the Pirates 67 yards for their final score, connecting on 6-7 passes for all 67 of those yards. Overall Peterson completed 20 of 27 passes for 204 yards with no interceptions. Peterson spread his completions out to nine different receivers. Austin Ehlo led with four catches for 42 yards. Ronnie Thomas carried 15 times for 74 yards, including Whitworth's first touchdown - an 11-yard run through several PLU defenders. Paul Miller led the Pirates with ten tackles. He broke up two passes, including one at the end of the game that appeared to have forced PLU into a desperation throw for the final play of regulation. Instead a late unsportsmanlike penalty against Whitworth moved the Lutes into field goal position.
The Series: PLU leads the all-time series 48-19 and at one time had won 32 straight games against the Bucs. But Whitworth ended that streak in 2001 and had won six meetings in a row until 2010. The last time the game was in Puyallup (2010), PLU pulled away for a 39-21 victory. Whitworth had won the previous three meetings at Sparks Stadium. The largest winning margin in the series is a 67-0 win for the Pirates in 1961. PLU's biggest margin of victory is 47-0 in 1970. The first meeting was a 27-0 victory for the Lutes in 1931.