You’ve heard of football teams rotating quarterbacks. The Whitworth Pirates took rotating to another level Saturday, giving three quarterbacks playing time.
Mike Peck, Andrew Durant and Cub Jansen played well and each directed at least one scoring drive. Coupled with another bruising effort from running back Adam Anderson and a defense that pitched a shutout over the last 31/2 quarters, the Pirates rolled past Puget Sound 35-7 in front of 1,750 at the Pine Bowl.
Head coach John Tully told the quarterbacks Monday that they’d each get two possessions, with Peck opening the game behind center. Peck has started since Kory Kemp went down with a fractured fibula in the second week, but Tully wanted to take a longer look at mobile freshmen Durant and Jansen.
“It was really play it by ear (after each got their shot),” Tully said. “The guys did well. They managed the game, which is what we want.”
Whitworth (3-3, 1-2 Northwest Conference) snapped a two-game losing streak as Anderson churned for a career-high 214 yards rushing and four touchdowns, equaling a school record. On TD runs covering 48 and 17 yards, respectively, Anderson appeared to be stopped but ran through defenders and found the end zone. Backup Milton Nelson had similar success, gaining 84 yards on 13 attempts.
Still, Whitworth, despite huge advantages in yards and time of possession, couldn’t shake the Loggers (2-3, 0-2) in the first half. With Peck at the helm, Whitworth scored on its first series only to have the Loggers respond with a 71-yard touchdown drive.
The Pirates went 0 of 2 on field goals (one missed and one blocked), had a 4-yard touchdown run by Durant erased by a penalty and saw another drive stall when Durant’s pass was intercepted at the UPS 17.
Jansen’s turn at quarterback came at the outset of the second half. He ran for 22 yards on a keeper and two plays later Anderson broke off his 48-yard TD run. The Loggers fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Whitworth’s McLane Stone recovered at the UPS 36. Nine plays later, Anderson scored and the Pirates’ lead grew to 21-7.
Next, it was the defense’s turn. Puget Sound faced fourth down at the Pirates’ 1, but running back Silas Paul was stuffed at the line by Cameron Stroyan, Alex Couette and eventually a handful of other defenders.
“That seemed to be the momentum changer,” said nose guard Brandon Martin, who had six tackles, three for losses.
Whitworth added to the momentum when Jansen led a 99-yard scoring drive. The key play was Jansen’s 34-yard connection with Dale Entel on third-and-22.
The rotation “worked really well,” said Jansen, who passed for 53 yards and ran for 43. “We have three really talented quarterbacks. It gives new looks for the defense and keeps them guessing all the time.”
Durant re-entered as the Pirates capped the scoring on Shenon Moore’s 3-yard run late in the fourth quarter. Durant passed for 91 yards and ran for 21. Peck was 4 for 4 for 27 yards.
“We were really focused on what we had to do and it paid off,” said Durant, a Rogers High alum who was on hand when the Pirates broke their 40-game losing streak Friday night. “We earned a great win.”
Tully wants to watch the tape before deciding what he’ll do with the quarterbacks when Whitworth visits Menlo on Saturday.
“I don’t know right now,” he said.
Willamette 45, Pacific Lutheran 18: Merben Woo rushed for 72 yards and a TD and caught five passes for 130 yards and a score to lead the Bearcats (7-0, 3-0 NWC) over the Lutes (1-4, 1-1) in Puyallup, Wash.
North Dakota 42, Western Washington 32: Sophomore tailback Josh Murray rushed 26 times for a career-high 219 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Fighting Sioux (5-1) past the Vikings (3-4) in Grand Forks, N.D.
Central Washington 34, Humboldt State 14: The 11th-ranked Wildcats (7-1, 6-0) clinched at least a share of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title by dispatching the Lumberjacks (2-6, 0-5) in Arcata, Calif.