SPOKANE, Wash. – Pacific rebounded from down 14-0 early in the second quarter to score 31 of the game's final 38 points Saturday, improving to 4-0 for the first time since 1950 with a 31-21 victory over Whitworth in Northwest Conference football action at the Pine Bowl.
The Boxers (4-0, 1-0 NWC) faltered early, turning the ball over twice in the first 20 minutes of the game while the Pirates scored two touchdowns during the same span. Pacific's offense starting clicking late in the second quarter and truly gained momentum when P.J. Minaya (Sr., Wahiawa, Hawaii) found Jordan Fukumoto (Jr., Mililani, Hawaii) for the Boxers' first score.
Pacific went on to score two third quarter touchdowns and a field goal and took a 31-21 lead on a one-yard run by Bobby Ladiges (Jr., Escalon, Calif.). Both teams missed field goal opportunities late in the game. Moses Villareal-Gomez (Jr., Stockton, Calif.) missed a 32-yarder with 1:19 left, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Boxers first down, allowing them to run out the clock and spoil Whitworth's homecoming contest.
Minaya led the Pacific passing attack, completing 10 of 15 for 174 yards and two touchdowns. T.C. Campbell (Jr., Kaimuki, Hawaii) completed six of 10 passes for 105 yards. Gunther Schultze (Sr., Bellflower, Calif.) led Pacific rushers with 56 yards on seven carries while Jakob Lawrence (Jr., Sherwood, Ore.) caught four balls for 80 yards.
Pacific outgained Whitworth on offense 408 yards to 331 yards as Whitworth (2-3, 0-1 NWC) lost their third straight game. The win is the Boxers' first over the Pirates since 1978 and marks Pacific's first win in a NWC opener since 1983.
Quarterback Bryan Peterson led Whitworth by completing 18 of 26 for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Wade Meyer proved Peterson's favorite target, catching five balls for 94 yards. Running back D.J. Tripoli rushed for 99 yards on 21 carries.
Pacific saw their first six drives end without a score, and the Pirates did their part to try and take advantage. After recovering a Pacific fumble with 4:49 left in the first quarter, the Pirates took just over two minutes to scamper 28 yards for a Griffin Hare eight-yard rush that opened scoring at 7-0.
After stunting another Pacific drive, Whitworth drove 77 yards over nearly seven minutes to build their 14-0 lead, ending on Peterson's 10-yard pass to Devon Lind with 10:03 to go in the first half. The Pacific offense started showing signs of life at point, but wouldn't get on the board until Minaya found Fukumoto on the opposite end of a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:14 left, halving the Whitworth halftime lead to 14-7.
Pacific got the ball to begin the second half and didn't waste the opportunity, moving 67 yards in just over three minutes as Minaya found Caleb Roher (Jr., Gresham, Ore.) for a 21-yard touchdown pass that tied the game. The Pirates fumbled on their next play from scrimmage, which Brandon Harms (Jr., Canby, Ore.) recovered. That set up an eventual 11-yard touchdown run by Deven McKinney (Jr., Spanaway, Wash.) with 10:12 to go in the third that put the Boxers up for good at 21-14.
The Boxers found paydirt again on their next series as Villareal-Gomez hit a 26-yard field goal with 2:57 left in the quarter to complete a 68-yard drive that lasted 3 minutes, 42 seconds.
Whitworth scored their only second half points early in the fourth quarter, with Peterson finding Alfonso Miranda for a nine-yard scoring pass to make it 24-21.
Pacific added an important insurance touchdown on their next drive. After Minaya completed passes of 25 yards and 17 yards to march the Boxers down the field, Ladiges used a series of three runs to close out the drive to go ahead 31-21 with 11:50 to go.
Josh Brinkworth (Jr., Elk Grove, Calif.) led another strong defensive day for the Boxers with nine tackles and a forced fumble while Chris Santiago (Jr., Waipahu, Hawaii) had seven tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Tevin Tyus led Whitworth defensively with eight tackles.
Pacific will look to go to 5-0 for the first time in school history at home next Saturday during homecoming as the Boxers host Puget Sound. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. The game can be heard in the Portland area on KUIK (1360 AM). Live audio and video webcasts will be available at GoBoxers.com.
Boxers Recover From 14 Down To Improve To 4-0