Fumble, fumble, fumble, interception, punt, punt, stopped on downs, fumble, time expired.
As second-half drive charts go, the one listed above is mighty ugly for an offense and thoroughly satisfying for a defense.
Consider Whitworth’s defense one happy unit as the Pirates came up with six turnovers and a 38-17 non-conference football victory over Whittier College in front of 1,725 sun-baked fans Saturday at the Pine Bowl.
The Pirates, who forced four turnovers and limited St. Scholastica to 200 yards in last week’s season opener, muzzled a Whittier offense that averaged 40 points-per-game last season and nearly overcame a 27-0 deficit in a 47-42 loss to Whitworth.
“We talked (at half) about playing with maximum effort every play and that’s what we did,” said outside linebacker Tevin Tyus, whose interception and 19-yard return for a touchdown gave Whitworth a 31-17 late in the third quarter. “Whatever play they were going to run, it seemed like we were in the right spot at the right time. Good coaching, honestly.”
The Poets, playing in their season opener, clearly wanted to establish Diante Jackson but the talented 6-foot-3 receiver had little room to operate. His three catches came in the first quarter.
Cornerback “Jerrell (Norman) did a wonderful job guarding him,” coach John Tully said. “We weren’t going to let them get the ball vertically over our heads.”
The ball often ended up in the Pirates’ hands as Tyus and De’ Hall intercepted passes and Tyus, Hall, Jacob Kriegbaum and Grant Livingston pounced on fumbles. Defensive end Aaron Cochran finished with a team-high nine tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Safety Casey Monahan had three of Whitworth’s nine pass break-ups.
The Pirates led 14-10 at half on the strength of behind Griffin Hare’s 6-yard scoring run and Bryan Peterson’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Devon Lind.
Mundo Guzman’s interception and 32-yard return for a touchdown put Whittier on top 17-14 early in the third quarter, but Peterson responded on the ensuing play from scrimmage by zipping a strike to tight end Lucas McGill for a 53-yard gain. Three plays later, Peterson raced into the end zone on third-and-3 from the 14 and the Pirates led 20-17.
“I was so proud of Bryan after throwing that pick six,” Tully said. “He took us right down and scored and that next play was a big-time completion that really turned the momentum. As you could see (Whittier) was pretty was pretty excited and all of sudden we were excited.”
The defense took over but Whitworth converted three Poets’ fumbles into just three points. Tyus’ interception return gave the Pirates breathing room before DJ Tripoli sealed the win with a 54-yard touchdown run with 4:04 left.
Peterson passed for 205 yards. Drew Clausen had five catches for 94 yards and also threw a 31-yard pass Dustin Martin on a trick play.
Central Washington 20, Western Oregon 7: Ishmael Stinson rushed for a pair of TDs and Deionte Gordon had two interceptions and recovered a fumble to propel the Wildcats (1-1, 1-0) past the Wolves (0-2, 0-1) in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference opener in Ellensburg.
Chapman 57, Puget Sound 14: The Panthers (1-0) rushed for 259 yards and six TDs en route to an easy victory over the Loggers (0-1) in a nonconference season opener in Tacoma.
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