The top 2 programs of the Northwest Conference continued to separate themselves from the pack in dominating fashion while George Fox suffered another late collapse punctuated by a rather odd finish.
Week 6 Results
Whitworth Pirates 59 | Willamette Bearcats 7
The Pirates must focus on the games at hand for another month before they can think about Linfield. Still, they make the case that those outside the program should regard them as highly as the Wildcats.
The Pirates were explosive on all facets, with two fumble return touchdowns, an interception return touchdown, and a blocked punt return touchdown.
Whitworth's running game appears to be their weakness, lacking a standout running back. They only mustered 66 yards on 27 carries in this game.
Fortunately, QB Austin Ewing has emerged as a top passer in the conference and threw for 298 yards and 3 TDs on 15/19 passing. He found his favorite target, WR Dillon Kuk, only four times. Kuk turned those four receptions into 190 yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard catch and run on the second play of the game, coming just short of paydirt.
The Bearcats kept the game within reach into the second quarter after they scored their sole touchdown to make the score 14-7. However, Bearcat errors broke the game open.
It appears that Willamette is more committed to the youth movement of QB Micah Ho'Omanawanui and RB Gabriel Herrera.
Linfield Wildcats 57 | Lewis & Clark Pioneers 15
Trey Morris got the start at quarterback for the Pioneers after his spectacular performance in relief last week. However, he did not match his thrilling performance from last week. Cruz Montana did not appear in this game. His status is unclear in the coming weeks.
The game began with a bang as Lewis & Clark would take the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, but their offense could not find much success to build on this moving forward.
Trey Morris had only 116 yards on 15/29 passing, and the team totaled only 85 yards on the ground. Linfield's 611 yards of total offense dwarfed Lewis & Clark's 225 yards.
Starting QB Blake Eaton was more of a volume passer this week as he threw the ball 38 times, completing 27 for 298 yards and 2 TDs.
The air attack defines the Northwest Conference this year. The NWC Offensive Player of the Year is a tight race between Blake Eaton and Austin Ewing.
Pacific Boxers 10 | Pacific Lutheran Lutes 17
Brody Bantolina is an undersized running back for Pacific. Once again, he carried the load despite his 5’8”, 170lb frame. He would tally 82 yards and a TD on 20 carries.
The Boxer passing game was not a liability, though QB Ryan Helt only totaled 152 yards on 17/30 passing. His favorite target, WR Isaiah Pitre, had 81 yards on four receptions. He is a pro-size target listed at 6’4”, and 225lbs.
For the Lutes, QB Darius Chaffin took too many risks and threw three interceptions to keep Pacific in this game. Aside from the turnovers, he had 159 yards through the air with a TD and added 70 yards on the ground. As a team, they ran for 223 yards on 36 carries. It is clear that both programs depend on dependable run games and stingy defenses for success.
This game was also an example of how well the D3 game can flow without a constant barrage of commercial breaks. The official time for the game was only 2:30.
George Fox Bruins 27 | Puget Sound Loggers 29
For the second week in a row, the George Fox offense did enough to win, but their defense did not hold their end of the deal in the 4th quarter.
Puget Sound QB Mason Binning had a thrilling day leading his spread passing offense, completing 41/66 for 416 yards! He also tallied a touchdown and interception, enough to give the home crowd a walk-off victory on a field goal.
The Bruins' passing game has been incredibly inconsistent as DeMontre Thomas II replaced Max Richey after he started the 1/6. Intriguingly, that single completion was a 62-yard touchdown to Dillan Dobbins on their first play from scrimmage.
Thomas did not fare much better, completing only 3/10 for 80 yards, which included a dump-off screen to Taylor Saben, who sprinted down the sideline for a 59-yard TD early in the 4th quarter.
A positive for the Bruins is that their run game racked up 225 yards on 28 carries as Taylor Saben and William Moffitt each broke the 80-yard barrier. Defensive Lineman Jacob Erickson significantly impacted the game in the trenches as he totaled 3.5 TFLs, including two sacks, bringing his total to 6.5 through 5 games.
Of those 416 yards through the air, the Loggers had two receivers tally 154 yards - Izaiah Jerenz and JohnJohn Nelson. Beyond those 66 pass attempts, Puget Sound also ran the ball 35 times for 119 yards, bringing their total play count to 101. This high total of plays dramatically tired the George Fox defense.
But what about that odd finish, you ask?
With 1:28 remaining in the game, George Fox pinned the Loggers at their 1-yard line with no timeouts. Mason Binning hit several passes down the field to control the clock until they had a 4th & 6 at the George Fox 35. They had chosen to kick the long field goal, but George Fox used their timeout to try to ice the kicker. This caused Puget Sound to change its mind. Instead, the Loggers converted on 4th down with a 25-yard pass to the 10
Henry Hernandez carried the ball on first and second down, forcing the Loggers to scramble to get the field goal unit onto the field. However, Hernandez could not get off the field under his power and went down. The referees deemed his injury timeout occurring at 11 seconds on the game clock, forcing a 10-second runoff down to 1 second as they were out of timeouts.
However, for reasons unexplained, Hernandez did not leave the field after the injury timeout. During the scramble to set up the field goal attempt, Hernandez went down for a second time trying to get off the field and needed assistance leaving. Afterward, the referees allowed the field goal attempt to go off without further issue. It is unclear whether the officiating crew managed this strange series of events correctly.
Week 7 Schedule
All times are PST and on the NWC Network.
George Fox Bruins (1-4, 0-2) at Linfield Wildcats (4-0, 2-0) | 1230PM
[Linfield hosts their streams independently of the NWC Network.]
This has been a nightmare season for the Bruins. It will surely spiral deeper after facing the Wildcats on the road. The best course of action for George Fox appears to be a focus on the run game to attempt to shorten the game and take pressure off of whichever quarterback starts this game. Linfield will want to establish their run game behind Connor McNabb to open the passing game for Blake Eaton.
Puget Sound Loggers (2-2, 1-1) at Whitworth Pirates (4-0, 2-0) | 1 PM
Whitworth needs to keep their eyes on the game at hand and avoid looking forward to their matchup with Linfield on November 11. They are clearly the second-best team in the conference to this point in the season. The Loggers pass defense built confidence after dealing with the inept Bruins attack. They are susceptible to the big play, a weakness Autin Ewing can exploit. Mason Binning's pursuit of back-to-back p60-pass attempt games is a storyline to watch.
Pacific Lutheran Lutes (2-3, 1-1) at Willamette Bearcats(1-4, 0-2) | 1 PM
Darius Chaffin needs to eliminate turnovers for the Lutes to succeed through the second half of the season. Still, his abilities as a dual-threat quarterback bode well for the team moving forward.
For Willamette, they need to take it one game at a time and focus on fundamentals and finding success on the ground with Gabriel Herrera to simplify the throws asked of Micah Ho’Omanawanui.
Lewis & Clark Pioneers (2-3, 1-1) at Pacific Boxers (1-3, 1-1) | 4 PM
The Boxers and Pioneers have contrasting styles. The Boxers rely on RB Brody Bantolina to carry the offense for the rest of the season. The Pioneers center their attack through the air regardless of who their quarterback is. This is most likely the closest game of the weekend and the sole dinnertime match.
Week 7 Northwest Conference Power Ranking
- Linfield Wildcats
- Whitworth Pirates
- Pacific Lutheran Lutes
- Puget Sound Loggers
- Lewis & Clark Pioneers
- George Fox Bruins
- Pacific Boxers