There is only one game of consequence in the final week of the season - Whitworth at Linfield.
Although the conference does not have a defined conference championship game like the SCIAC, the fates of scheduling have delivered us the next best thing. But how did those two fare in their final tune-up?
Week 10 Results
The Bruins were able to disrupt the Pirates' plans on offense and kept them from finding a rhythm or the deep shots that they had been hitting all season.
The game went into halftime with Whitworth narrowly ahead 10-6 thanks to a 67-yard touchdown run from Solomon Hines. Outside of that one play, the Whitworth running game was limited to 79 yards on 24 carries.
After a scoreless third quarter, the fourth opened with a 16-play, 97-yard drive that burnt 9:24 off the clock, ending with DeMontre Thomas II scoring from 2 yards out to take a 13-10 lead. A few plays later, Luis Salgado took an Austin Ewing pass 61 yards for a touchdown to give Whitworth the lead permanently.
After a George Fox 3 & out, the Pirates marched down the field again. A trick play saw WR Dillon Kuk throwing to WR Evan Liggett for a 16-yard touchdown. Liggett led the team with six catches for 91 yards, while Austin Ewing finished 21/30 for 261 yards with that one long touchdown and an interception.
George Fox barely reached over 100 yards on the ground on 35 carries, and Thomas only completed 17/31 for 208 yards with an interception and four sacks. This game was nearly an opportunity for the Bruins to show they were better than their record indicated.
Blake Eaton did not appear in this game for undisclosed reasons. His availability versus Whitworth this weekend is in question.
Luke McNabb, the younger brother of RB Connor McNabb, replaced him. He had a solid day, completing 22/32 for 249 yards and 3 TDs with a single interception. He is a more athletic option at quarterback than Eaton and added 45 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
This was an uncompetitive game as the Wildcats got their lead up to 42-0 by the early 4th quarter before substituting several starters. Darius Chaffin and the Lutes added two late touchdowns against the Wildcats’ reserves and an interception return touchdown thrown by Linfield backup Carson Van Dyke.
Connor McNabb had 131 yards on only 15 carries as the Wildcats running game totaled 37 attempts for 219 yards. The Linfield offense nearly eclipsed 500 total yards in the dominating effort.
For the Lutes, Darius Chaffin reverted to some bad habits as he threw four INTs and took three sacks. On the back of some late-game success against Linfield's reserves, he did finish the day completing 23/36 passes for 256 yards and two TDs. The Lutes run game was a non-factor, netting only five yards after accounting for Chaffin’s negative plays.
As always, the quality of play in the trenches heavily indicates the winner. Pacific Lutheran must improve in that area to take advantage of Chaffin's final season next fall.
This nightmarish fall for Willamette continued against Pacific as the Boxers ran through and attacked the Bearcates by air. The Boxers scored four touchdowns in the 1st quarter and four more in the 2nd quarter to take a 55-0 halftime lead in front of 800 faithful fans.
The game was so quickly out of hand that both quarterbacks for Pacific had significant playing time as starter Braeden Titus went 10/13 for 206 yards and 4 TDs while former starter Ryan Helt went 11/13 himself for 119 yards and a touchdown.
The running game for Pacific lacked a true standout, totaling 223 yards on 56 carries led by 78 yards and two touchdowns by Brody Bantolina. The Boxers balanced the load of their 375 passing yards, led by Tyler Vargas with five catches for 90 yards with a touchdown and Isaiah Pitre with four receptions for 83 yards.
Willamette stuck with undersized QB Alex Rivera IV for the whole game despite only completing 12/28 for 152 yards with 2 INTs. There is nothing notable to mention for the Bearcats from this game.
After Mason Binning‘s second 400-yard effort last week against Willamette, there may have been some extra eyes on him this week. However, the Pioneers outclassed the Loggers, overshadowing any hype from Binning.
The game started with a scoreless first quarter. The floodgates broke open in the second as Lewis & Clark took a 38-12 lead into halftime and stretched that to 59-18 by the end of the third.
Trey Morris did not need to do much for the Pioneers in this one as he only attempted 14 passes, but he completed 10 for 149 yards and 3 TDs. It was the running game that gashed Puget Sound with 353 yards and 5 TDs on only 33 carries. Elijah Washington led the charge with 18 for 169 and four touchdowns, supplemented by Elijah McGee, who had 117 yards and a touchdown of his own on only four carries. Recently, the Pioneers have found a more stable identity behind the running of Elijah Washington, as he has reached nearly 800 yards on the season through nine games.
For Mason Binning, his stats feel almost meaningless in such a blowout. He still managed to accumulate 328 yards and 2 TDs on 32/49 passing. He looked a little too quick to break out of the pocket against the rush, but his protection was so poor at times he did not have a choice.
Izaiah Jerenz had another impressive stat line with 14 receptions. Those 14 catches only yielded 122 yards, with his routes serving as an extension of the run game. Jerez is up to 97 receptions in eight games and has 13 or more in his past five.
Puget Sound has significant potential in the passing game under Mason Binning. Yet, much like Darius Chaffin, he needs help in the trenches if the Loggers are to make an impact next season.
Week 11 Schedule (Pacific Time) | NWC Network
Pacific Lutheran Lutes (4-5, 3-3) at Puget Sound Loggers (3-5, 2-4) | 1 PM
The Lutes-Loggers rivalry is a fun regional rivalry. The two schools are each 130 years old and sit a little more than 10 miles apart in the Tacoma and Parkland region south of Seattle.
Both squads feature exciting junior quarterbacks who have had fantastic performances this season while also struggling in times of poor pass protection.
Both quarterbacks have the potential to lead their offense in rushing, but that is generally a sign that the game had not gone as planned.
The most exciting storyline for this game may be to see how many receptions Izaiah Jerenz can tally in his final college football game. If Jerenz can get 26 catches, he will set a new single-season receptions per game record of 13.67, which would best the current record of 13.6 (136 in 10 games) owned by Scott Pingel of Westminster (MO) in 1999. Those 26 receptions would also be a new single-game receptions record. The current record is set at 25 by Daniel Passafiume of Hanover in 2009.
Whitworth Pirates (8-0, 6-0) at Linfield Wildcats (8-0, 6-0) | 1PM
All the marbles are at stake in this matchup for the Northwest Conference Championship and a bid into the Division 3 playoff picture.
Both teams have been dominant so far and have had similar seasons statistically. They average around 450 yards/game on offense, with Whitworth leaning towards being the better passing team. Comparatively, Linfield relies more on the ground game. Linfield is also the stronger defensive team, only allowing 250 yards/game, and has the historical pedigree as they have won the Northwest Conference Championship in 12 of the past 13 seasons.
The game is on the Linfield Sports Network at 1 PM PT/4 PM ET. The victor takes the crown as the sole Northwest Conference Champion and moves on to the Division 3 playoffs, likely hosting the SCIAC Champion.
Lewis & Clark Pioneers (4-5, 3-3) at Willamette Bearcats (1-8, 0-6) | 1 PM
The first of two Oregon Cup rematches on the day.
The Pioneers won the first match at home 38-7, but the score was only 14-7 to open the 4th quarter as Willamette opened their season playing tighter football, including an opening week victory against La Verne.
This meeting, however, is the convergence of two teams in very different spots.
Lewis & Clark was firing on all cylinders against Puget Sound, led by an explosive rushing attack. Willamette was on the receiving end of another blowout.
Unable to stop teams through the air or on the ground, the Bearcats have allowed over 60 points four times this season and 59 to Whitworth. With a Pioneers team that feels motivated and energized, this game could get out of hand quickly.
Pacific Boxers (2-6, 2-4) at George Fox Bruins (3-6, 2-4) | 4 PM
The final game of the Northwest Conference season is the 2nd Oregon Cup rematch of the day.
Both programs have had difficult seasons since the initial match in September. Nevertheless, this game still holds meaning, with bragging rights and position in the final standings at stake.
Pacific has had some strong showings from their offense in the second half of the season. They will spread out the Bruins and attack a defense that has been weak against the pass. Brody Bantolina appears to be a top running back in the conference. Braeden Titus has been a more dangerous quarterback than Ryan Helt since joining the starting lineup.
It is hard to know which version of George Fox will show up. If they cannot dominate the Pacific front seven, the Bruins will rely on the arm of DeMontre Thomas II.
Week 11 Northwest Conference Power Ranking
- Linfield Wildcats
- Whitworth Pirates
- Lewis & Clark Pioneers
- George Fox Bruins
- Pacific Lutheran Lutes
- Pacific Boxers
- Puget Sound Loggers
- Willamette Bearcats