Whitworth’s defense and special teams held up long enough for the offense to save the day in the end.
The Pirates overcame four turnovers in the game’s first 17 minutes, and Whitworth turned back Pacific Lutheran’s second-half rally in a 31-17 win in a Northwest Conference football game at the Pine Bowl on Saturday.
The Pirates improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the NWC. PLU fell to 2-3, 1-2.
Whitworth quarterback Jaedyn Prewitt, who had thrown four interceptions, found Ethan Peloquin for an 18-yard touchdown pass to cap a 12-play drive and give the Pirates a 24-17 lead with just less than 6 minutes remaining.
Whitworth’s defense subsequently forced a turnover on downs, and the Pirates iced the game with Isaiah Jones’ 18-yard TD run with 1:02 left .
Patrick Serrano and Dylan Ventress were credited with 10 tackles apiece for the Pirates, who limited PLU quarterback Erik Bainter to 9-for-28 passing for 93 yards.
Whitworth’s Daniel McKiernan blocked a punt and recovered it at the 1-yard line to set up Solomon Hines’ plunge into the end zone on the next play for a 7-0 lead with 2:50 left in the opening quarter.
Nate RaPue’s 32-yard field goal gave Whitworth a 10-0 lead midway through the second quarter, and Prewitt connected with Kanen Ables on a 12-yard touchdown pass for a 17-0 cushion with 1:29 left before halftime.
Bainter’s 23-yard touchdown pass to John Walker on the final play of the first half sparked the Lutes’ comeback.
Bainter and Walker connected again for a 28-yard TD pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to pull within 17-14.
Knights place-kicker Peiyton Hilliard converted a 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 17 with 10½ minutes to play.
Bainter had 17 carries for a team-high 108 yards.
Prewitt completed 13 of 26 passes for 178 yards. Hines rushed for 89 yards on 18 attempts.
Whitworth hosts Willamette on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Bearcats (1-5, 0-3) lost their fifth consecutive game Saturday when visiting Lewis & Clark edged them 43-41.
The teams last played on Oct. 5, 2019, an 82-7 Pirates win.
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