Bryan Peterson and Zac Hill aren’t making it easy on head coach John Tully to name a starting quarterback, which is probably an encouraging sign for the Whitworth Pirates.
Both freshmen quarterbacks were efficient when the game was in question, helping the Pirates cruise to a 34-7 victory Saturday over Pomona-Pitzer in front of 1,725 at the Pine Bowl. Whitworth evened its record at 1-1 with an easy nonconference win over the Sagehens (0-1), who suited up just 45 players.
Peterson, the former West Valley High standout who spent the last three years playing minor league baseball, made his first start and the Pirates scored on two of his three first-half possessions. It probably would have been 3 for 3, but Peterson fumbled inside the Sagehens’ 5-yard line and Pomona-Pitzer recovered.
Hill, a North Central product, handled Whitworth’s fourth possession and overcame a second-and-17 with a pair of completions. He steamrolled a defender on a 12-yard scramble and DJ Tripoli capped the scoring drive with a 3-yard run as Whitworth took a 20-0 halftime lead.
The Pirates, with Hill at quarterback, extended their lead to 34-0 with two quick touchdowns in the third quarter, one a run-dominated 63-yard march and the other set up by Fernando Noriega’s 28-yard punt return to the Sagehens’ 4.
“They’re both playing well,” Tully said. “Zac’s interception wasn’t his, it went right through the hands of a receiver. They’re handling the offense positively and once we got going we stayed with a few plays that we thought were working.”
Whitworth was content to run the ball and work the clock in the second half.
Pomona-Pitzer had an impressive opening drive, but it stalled at Whitworth’s 10 and the Sagehens botched the snap on a 27-yard field-goal attempt. Whitworth capitalized with Peterson racing around right end for a 6-yard TD run.
After an exchange of turnovers, Whitworth took over at its 45. Peterson found Jake DeGooyer over the middle and the speedy junior receiver did the rest. He gave up yardage while making a pair of cuts, but he found open space on his final change of direction to cap a 55-yard scoring play.
“I saw the safety, when I turned my back he wasn’t where I thought he was going to be,” DeGooyer said. “So I just made a move and trusted my instincts and ultimately ended up in the end zone.”
The fan in Tully “loved the athleticism” DeGooyer displayed, but Tully the coach added, “I also shared with him that we need to make the first down. He had the first down, he didn’t have the first down, he had the first down, he didn’t have it. Again, there were a lot of those types of things that are great learning opportunities.”
Luke Sweeney ran 41 times for 176 yards for Pomona-Pitzer. The Sagehens scored with 3:52 left on Luke Ferguson’s 1-yard keeper on fourth down.
Ferguson, stung by at least three drops, finished 4 of 19 for 35 yards.
“For two and a half quarters we played pretty well,” Tully said. “Now we have to get ready for Redlands (Saturday at the Pine Bowl) and they’re a top 20 team.”