October 7, 2011 in Sports

Pirates emphasize closing games

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Whitworth Pirates have played pretty good football, but they don’t have a lot to show for it.

The Pirates’ 1-3 record could easily be flip-flopped, but they’ve let two fourth-quarter leads slip away, the most recent coming in a 24-17 home loss to Menlo two weeks ago. The point of emphasis during Whitworth’s bye week was obvious: finish.

“We’re competing, playing hard and making plays,” head coach John Tully said. “Now, when it’s close we just need to find a way to finish.”

Whitworth opens Northwest Conference play when Pacific Lutheran (2-1, 1-0 NWC) visits the Pine Bowl today at 1. It’s homecoming and four new members of the Whitworth Heritage Gallery Hall of Fame will be recognized at halftime.

“We anticipate our games going down to the last few minutes,” Tully said. “To get over that hump, you have to make those plays and once you do then you start making them all the time.”

Whitworth yielded 10 sacks in the loss to Menlo. Only one of the 10 came with Menlo using a blitz. Senior guard Travis Todd returns after missing one start with a knee injury. The Pirates should be close to full strength, though linebacker Ryan Loutsis (ankle) probably won’t start.

PLU, coming off an 8-1 season, returns six starters on a defensive unit that limited Puget Sound to seven points a week ago and blanked Hamline in the season opener. Whitworth had won six straight in the series before falling 39-21 to PLU last season.


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