You never want to be those guys.
You know, that bungling bunch that makes just enough mistakes to hand Pacific University its first NCAA Division III football victory since 1991.
And the Whitworth University Pirates made sure they weren’t – for this year, at least – at the Pine Bowl on Saturday by carving up the visiting Boxers 48-6 in a Northwest Conference mismatch witnessed by a crowd of 1,545.
Junior running back Ronnie Thomas ran for 159 yards and three touchdowns, and freshman quarterback Zac Hill, who made only the second start of his career in place of injured starter Bryan Peterson, threw for 161 yards and another touchdown as the Pirates (2-5 overall, 1-2 NWC) handed Pacific (0-7, 0-4) its 16th consecutive defeat since the Forest Grove (Ore.)-based school reinstated its football program last fall.
“It’s nice to just finally move forward again,” Whitworth coach John Tully said after watching his team snap a four-game losing streak that included several emotionally draining setbacks. “We have a few older guys, but we’ve got a lot of really young ones, too, and they needed to experience something like this and have some fun.
“Hopefully, they did today.”
Hill, a 6-foot-4, 207-pounder out of North Central High, certainly did.
“It feels great,” he said, after overcoming a shaky start to complete 10 of 16 passes – including a 51-yard early fourth-quarter scoring strike to tight end Wade Meyer that put the Pirates up 41-6 and prompted Tully to yank most of his starters. “It’s been a rough season. But I finally got my chance to play and just tried to make the most of it.”
Hill’s job was made easier by the way Thomas, a 5-9, 197-pounder from Granite Bay, Calif., was able to carve up Pacific’s run defense by averaging almost 8 yards per carry and scoring from 2, 13 and 46 yards out.
“The offensive line did really well today,” said Hill, who was sacked only once. “They opened some big holes, and I was really impressed with the way they took control of everybody.
“And Ronnie, who has been impressive all season, came out again today and did what he does – put the team on his back – and that really helped.”
Whitworth’s defense also put together a solid effort by limiting the Boxers to 193 yards of total offense and a pair of midrange field goals by Moses Villareal-Gomez. The Bucs picked off three passes, with Kainoa Raguindin grabbing two, including one on Pacific’s first possession which led directly to Thomas’ first scoring run.
The Pirates’ other interception went to freshman Paul Miller, from Mead High, just before halftime.
“Our defense, I thought, played well,” Tully said. “We talked about getting backed up inside the 20 and making them kick field goals, instead of getting touchdowns, and they did.”
Tully said Peterson could have played in an emergency, despite lingering issues with a sore hip.
Lewis & Clark 31, Puget Sound 28: Keith Welch scored four rushing TDs as the Pioneers (6-0, 3-0) edged the Loggers (0-7, 0-4) in a Northwest Conference game in Portland.
Linfield 45, Pacific Lutheran 7: Mickey Inns threw for three TDs and Josh Hill ran for three scores as the fifth-ranked Wildcats (6-0, 4-0) routed the Lutes (4-2, 2-1) in an NWC game in McMinnville, Ore.
Carroll 31, Eastern Oregon 21: Chance Demarais ran for 237 yards and a TD, leading the third-ranked Fighting Saints (7-1, 6-1) to a win over the 22nd-ranked Mountaineers (5-3, 5-2) in a Frontier Conference battle for first place in La Grande, Ore.
Central Washington 31, Dixie State 24: Jose Mohler threw two TD passes to Armahd Lewis and the Wildcats (3-4, 3-3) beat the Red Storm (1-7, 1-4) in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game in St. George, Utah.