Saturday’s football game at Whitworth University featured a freshman quarterback who made all the right reads and throws down the stretch to lead his team to victory.
Unfortunately for the Pirates and freshman QB Taylor Eglet, that storyline belonged to Menlo College.
Menlo quarterback Cruz Castillo overcame a tumultuous first half and led the Oaks to two second-half touchdowns and a 14-10 victory over Whitworth at the Pine Bowl in a Northwest Conference showdown.
The Pirates dropped to 3-5 overall and 1-3 in the NWC.
Menlo improved to 3-4 and 2-1 in conference with its second consecutive victory.
Menlo rallied after trailing 10-0 at halftime. Payton Bell capped a six-play, 78-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run for the Oaks to take a 14-10 lead with 6½ minutes left in the game. Castillo completed each of his four passes on the drive for 78 yards.
Castillo, who completed just 2 of 9 passes and was intercepted twice in the first half, was 8 for 11 after halftime and finished with 151 passing yards. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Erik Rasmussen pulled the Oaks within 10-7 midway through the third quarter.
Whitworth’s starting quarterback, Eglet (Lewis and Clark High), completed 20 of 35 passes for 172 yards.
He threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Scroggins in the first half, but he was unable to move the Pirates consistently in the final two quarters.
“Taylor played a solid game and made a lot of good decisions,” Whitworth coach John Tully said. “We were not able to run the ball to help him out. We’ve got to be able to do that.”
The Pirates amassed just 48 yards on 35 carries.
Menlo, meanwhile, gained 130 yards on the ground on 37 attempts.
“They’re a big, physical group with their front seven,” Tully said of the Oaks. “They’ve got some big linebackers, and they’re a solid defensive team.”
Whitworth defensive back Derek Stottlemyer intercepted a Castillo pass to halt a Menlo scoring threat, and he returned it to the Oaks’ 25.
Eglet and Scroggins connected on their touchdown pass six plays later for a 7-0 lead.
“The defensive line got a lot of pressure today and got a lot of sacks,” Stottlemyer said. “Whenever you get a pick, it’s because the whole defense was doing its job.”
Stottlemyer intercepted a second pass two plays into the fourth quarter and put the Pirates in prime position to extend their three-point lead.
Whitworth gained just 6 yards on three plays, however, and place-kicker Andy Largent’s 39-yard field-goal attempt came up short and wide right. Largent earlier had made a 36-yarder 10 seconds before halftime for a 10-0 lead.
Both teams traded punts before Castillo pieced together the go-ahead drive. He completed 23-yard passes to Kenny Cavness and James Bassett, respectively, and his 28-yarder to Lance Walkup placed the ball at the Whitworth 1. Bell scored on the next play.
The Pirates made an impressive goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter when they stopped Bell on three consecutive runs inside the 1-yard line.
The Pirates couldn’t advance past their 16-yard line before turning over the ball on downs to effectively end the game.
Whitworth hosts the Pacific Lutheran Lutes on Saturday in its final home game.
The Pirates end their season at the Lewis & Clark Pioneers a week later in Portland.
“Our seniors have two games left in the rest of their lives,” Tully said. “We hope to put them in position to be successful.”
Menlo 14, Whitworth 10
Whi-Scroggins 3 pass from Eglet (Largent kick)
Whi-Largent 36 FG
Men- Rasmussen 16 pass from Castillo (De Leon kick)
Men- Bell 1 run (De Leon kick)
Rushing–Menlo, Bell 19-76, Stevens 2-24, Castillo 7-18, Souza 7-14. Whitworth, Nelson 14-35, Scott 8-29, Clow 1-3, Vessey 1-2, Eglet 11-minus 21.
Passing–Menlo, Castillo 10-20-3-151. Whitworth, Eglet 20-35-1 172.
Receiving–Menlo, Walkup 3-51, Bassett 2-27, Stevens 2-22, Cavness 1-23, Rasmussen 1-16, Bell 1-12. Whitworth, E.Entel 5-35, Scroggins 4-51, Largent 4-31, Brady 3-29, Scott 1-17, D.Entel 1-9, Nelson 1-0, Carlson 1-0.