If Whitworth’s offense catches up to the guts of its coach, John Tully, then the Pirates will have a unit that will be a nightmare to contend with as the season progresses.
The No. 15-ranked Division III Hardin-Simmons Cowboys (1-0) started the season the way they expected with a convincing 27-7 win Saturday at the Pine Bowl. But their win wasn’t against an opponent that always did things in conventional fashion.
Starting the second half trailing 14-0, Whitworth kicker Zack Clow executed and recovered an onside kick. On that same drive, facing fourth-and-1 just past midfield, Taylor Eglet had his pass attempt deflected at the last second and the drive ended.
On Whitworth’s (0-1) next possession after a Hardin-Simmons fumble, on fourth-and-2 at its 29, the Pirates’ fake punt attempt – which had up-back Adam Anderson take a direct snap – was stymied and again the drive stalled. Three plays later, Hardin-Simmons put the game away with a touchdown. The extra point failed, but the Cowboys’ 20-0 lead was not challenged.
Tully said he felt like that was the point where it was time to try to change the flow of the game.
“We needed to make some plays,” said Tully, who is in his 16th year as the Pirates’ head coach. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make them. But you’ve got to give them credit. They’re one of the better teams. They’re very talented and very skilled.”
Tully added he was pleased with his team’s effort and understands that with a lot of young players that his squad will grow as the year progresses.
Hardin-Simmons established control of the line of scrimmage in the first half with a no-huddle offense that initially produced short passing plays from quarterback Justin Feaster to wide receiver ZaVious Robbins. But the duo stretched out their pitch-and-catch routine late in the first half for two plays during the Cowboys’ last two drives of the half, one of which resulted in H-S taking a 14-0 lead.
On one play, Robbins adjusted to a wobbly pass into a stiff wind, leaped, reached behind himself and made a difficult catch in double coverage. The two connected on Hardin-Simmons’ next drive for a 40-yard reception that saw a streaking Robbins make the catch about 15 yards downfield and then running the rest of it before being tackled by three Pirates at Whitworth’s 29-yard line.
Whitworth’s lone score of the game came with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter, when Anderson shot his way into the end zone on a 10-yard run to make the score 20-7.
The Pirates are on the road the next two weekends for games at Pomona-Pitzer and Redlands before returning to the Pine Bowl on Sept. 25 against Lewis & Clark.
Hardin-Simmons 27, Whitworth 7
HSU–Feaster 7 run (Newberry kick)
HSU–Feaster 1 run (Newberry kick)
HSU-Labian 9 pass from Feaster (kick failed)
Whit–Anderson 10 run (Goranson kick)
HSU-Cisneroz 47 interception return (Newberry kick)
Rushing–Hardin-Simmons: Rockwell 17-92, Grand 12-73, Feaster 4-14, Carver 4-11, Robbins 2-10, Labian1-0. Whitworth: Anderson 22-97, Lessier 9-28, Eglet 5-14, DeFelice 1-(-8).
Passing–Hardin-Simmons: Feaster 18-23-1-236. Whitworth: Eglet 14-21-1-113, DeFelice 0-2-0-0.
Receiving–Hardin-Simmons: Robbins 10-134, Tatsch 3-39, Grant 2-27, McCoy 1-19, Labian 1-9, Lofton 1-8. Whitworth: Anderson 5-40, Haley 4-19, Clow 2-25, Lambert 1-20, DeGooyer 1-5, Ingman 1-4.
Puget Sound 36, Pacific 19: The Loggers opened their season by jumping to a 20-0 lead in the first half in Tacoma and never looking back in a Northwest Conference contest, ending their nine-game winless streak.
The Boxers hit four field goals in their first game since 1984.
Senior quarterback Duncan White completed 19 of 28 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns for Puget Sound, which made Jeff Thomas a winner in his debut as head coach.
Central Washington 24, Dixie State 14: The Red Storm (0-2) jumped to an early 7-0 lead before the No. 13 Wildcats (1-1) scored 24 unanswered first-half points as the teams opened Great Northwest Athletic Conference play in St. George, Utah.
Carroll 24, Rocky Mountain 20: Thomas Dolan returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown with 10:54 to play to give the third-ranked Fighting Saints a season-opening victory over the Battlin’ Bears in a Frontier Conference game in Helena.
Rocky Mountain lost its 20th straight game.