Lewis & Clark’s and Whitworth’s football teams are turning back the clock. That’s a welcome change for the upstart Pioneers, not so much for the Pirates.
Whitworth’s run of 12 straight series wins could be in jeopardy when it takes on the Pioneers (4-0, 1-0 Northwest Conference) at 1 on Saturday at Griswold Stadium in Portland. The Pirates are trying to snap a three-game losing streak, all three decided late in the fourth quarter.
“The guys that are playing are the guys that should be playing and what we’re running is what we should be running,” said Whitworth head coach John Tully, whose team will be without linebacker Ryan Loutsis (concussion) and receiver Devon Lind (concussion). “We’re putting ourselves in situations where we have a chance to win, we just need to get over the hump.”
Whitworth (1-4, 0-1) has had only four sub-.500 seasons under Tully in 16 seasons, including 1-8, 1-8 and 2-7 campaigns in his first three seasons. The Pirates have been .500 or better the last 14 years with the exception of a 4-6 record in 2003.
The Pioneers are 4-0 for the first time since 1995, the program’s last winning season. They’re averaging 506.8 total yards and 45.5 points. Sophomore quarterback Keith Welch has 10 touchdowns passing and seven rushing. Senior tailback Joevonte Mayes leads the conference at 95 yards per game and senior tight end Shawn Evans, a preseason All-American, has 19 receptions, three for touchdowns.
Whitworth has allowed five sacks per game, ranking 238th out of 239 D-III teams. The Pirates’ four quarterback sacks ranks 213th.
The Pirates lost 20-17 last week to Pacific Lutheran, which converted on a last-play, game-winning field goal after Whitworth was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Whitworth, seeking clarification on the ruling, sent videotape of the play and a couple others to the conference office, but hasn’t heard a reply.
“We talked at our Monday meeting about what we needed to do and what we can control and really some things in life you can’t control,” Tully said. “Attitude and effort are two things we can control. I thought it would take until Wednesday (for the players to bounce back), but they came back and did a good job at Tuesday’s practice and it was actually uplifting for the coaching staff.”