The Northwest Conference – Week 5 Review & Week 6 Preview

Recapping Northwest Conference Week 5 and previewing Week 6: Whitworth's standout performance cements their status among NWC elites.

Whitworth Pirates football players celebrating after a big play
Source: Caleb Flegel

Linfield and Whitworth dominated their matchups this weekend while George Fox crumbled beneath the Lewis & Clark aerial attack.

Week 5 Results

Puget Sound Loggers 14 | Pacific Boxers 28

Puget Sounds’ promising start to their season has come undone as they struggled to score against the Boxers while their defense allowed Pacific to finally find success on offense.

That offensive success for Pacific may not be easily replicated as most of it came on an explosion from RB Brody Bantolina who had touchdown runs of 80 and 76 yards in the first half. He would add 60 yards across his other 16 carries for a total of 216 in the game. The Boxers also continue to score safeties as they added 2 in this game.

Loggers QB Mason Binning was firing the ball all over the field try to keep his team in the game, but it resulted in only completing 18/37 for 258 yards for 2 TDs and 3 INTs while also being sacked 5 times.

The Boxers will need to focus on finding continued success on the ground to find more wins this season as QB Ryan Helt does not offer much for them in the passing game and only completed 8/17 for 110 yards with a TD and 2 INTs on this afternoon.

Pacific Lutheran Lutes 13 | Whitworth Pirates 42

This was shaping up to be a very important game for the season direction of both programs, and Whitworth made their point that the conference is between them and Linfield and no one else.

The Pirates were consistent and efficient on offense while the Lutes were inconsistent but explosive and just couldn't get out of their own way which was exemplified by the final minutes of the first half.

With just under 3 minutes remaining, Whitworth took a 28-7 lead and kicked off to the Lutes as they expected to try to score before the half to keep the game within reach.

But the return was fumbled by Pacific Lutheran and the Pirates once again had possession at the Lutes 14-yard line.

Surprisingly, they were forced into a 4th & 1 and failed to convert on the ground and Pacific Lutheran took over at their 5-yard line with 49 seconds remaining.

On the first play after the change of the possession QB Darrius Chaffin would launch the ball down the field and complete a pass to Thor Stepina for a 95-yard touchdown and suddenly the game felt within reach.

The following possession had Whitworth attempt to move the ball with only 35 seconds remaining, but they would fail to convert a first down and were forced to punt the ball back to the Lutes.

Darius Chaffin would take over at their own 46-yard line with 3 seconds remaining and chose to go with a Hail Mary to end the half, but his best intentions were answered with disaster as he would be sacked and fumbled resulting in the Pirates returning the ball for a touchdown to end the half with a 35-13 lead.

The second half involved a number of traded possessions and eventually Whitworth added a final touchdown with 6 minutes remaining but that would be it for the scoring.

Darius Chaffin is a talented QB for Pacific Lutheran, but he needs more help. He led the team with 33 rushing yards which included the 28 lost on 4 sacks. Overall he completed 19/35 for 241 yards with 2 TDs and an interception.

It would appear that Whitworth is on a collision course with Linfield to decide the conference championship. Conveniently, this game comes on the final week of the regular season on November 11.

Willamette Bearcats 14 | Linfield Wildcats 70

Well, it took a few weeks, but Linfield finally had a Linfield game and the Bearcats of Salem were the victims of an overall dominant effort.

The two Willamette touchdowns came as a result of a Blake Eaton fumble on a sack in the 2nd quarter, and a muffed punt in the 4th. Both touchdown drives were under 10 yards. In total, the Bearcats had 154 net yards, 102 passing and 52 on the ground. One positive for Willamette is that they didn't throw any interceptions.

On the Linfield side they accumulated 516 yards of offense; 285 yards through the air and 231 on the ground. QB Blake Eaton totaled 5 passing touchdowns on 15/19 passing and only 174 yards while backup QB Carson Van Dyke was 7/7 for 74 yards and a single touchdown. Starting RB Connor McNabb had 104 yards rushing on only 7 carries with backup RB Tyler Larsen adding 65 on 9 carries.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the conference handles the Wildcats over the next 6 weeks.

Lewis & Clark Pioneers 37 | George Fox Bruins 31

The Bruins seem to imitating the Seahawks of recent years where their offense and defense cannot agree to both play well at the same time while the Pioneers may have a quarterback controversy brewing.

George Fox still have not settled on a quarterback as they had DeMontre Thomas II start once again, but he was pulled for Max Richey to start the 2nd quarter. It immediately paid dividends as Richey hit a 64-yard touchdown on his first attempt. He would finish with a line of 10/19 for 233 yards and 2 TDs with an untimely interception in overtime.

Senior QB Cruz Montana started the game for the Pioneers and his numbers were decent, completing 24/32 with a touchdown and interception, but only 158 yards.

After 3 quarters Lewis & Clark found themselves trailing 28-10 and pulled Montana for Trey Morris, who came into the game with his hair on fire. He would make short work of the previously stout Bruins defense, scoring touchdowns and a 2-pt conversion in his first two possessions and leading a tying FG drive as time expired in regulation. For the game, Morris would complete 17/21 for 185 yards and 3 TDs.

George Fox nearly made it out of regulation with a victory as the initial FG attempt was no good from 44 yards but a blatant offsides penalty gave Pioneers Kicker Thien Hoang a second shot from 39 yards and he would strike it true through the uprights.

The teams would trade field goals in the first overtime period but then disaster would strike for George Fox.

With a 2nd & Goal from the 5, Max Richey would float a pass over his receiver into the waiting hands of Pioneer Daryl Clark in the endzone for an interception. It would only take 2 plays for Pioneer WR Elijah McGee to take a short pass from Trey Morris and cut through the defense for the 25-yard walk-off touchdown.

A huge win, a devastating loss - cliches aside, this was a great, dramatic football game.

Week 6 Schedule

There have been some issues with coverage of football games through the NWC Network so not all games may be available to watch unfortunately. Hopefully it is due to A/V upgrades and things will return to normal shortly.

Whitworth Pirates (3-0, 1-0) at Willamette Bearcats (1-3, 0-1) | 1PM PDT

It is unlikely that Whitworth will match the 70 points out up by Linfield against this Bearcats squad, but they should not have too much trouble getting a win this week as long as they keep their focus on the game at hand.

Linfield Wildcats (3-0, 1-0) at Lewis & Clark Pioneers (2-2, 1-0) | 1PM PDT

Who is starting for the Pioneers? Quarterbacks in their final season often get the benefit of the doubt, but Trey Morris was so exceptional in his quarter plus overtime of work against George Fox. The Pioneers will need to be nearly perfect to keep up with a Wildcats offense that finally woke up against Willamette.

Pacific Boxers (1-2, 1-0) at Pacific Lutheran Lutes (1-3, 0-1) | 1PM PDT

Darius Chaffin will be hoping to get more help from the rest of the offense around him, but Pacific has a solid defense. On offense, the Boxers will be looking for Brody Bantolina to carry the squad again as their passing game is subpar.

George Fox Bruins (1-3, 0-1) at Puget Sound Loggers (1-2, 0-1) | 1:30PM PDT

Puget Sound has regressed since their Week 1 comeback win against Lewis & Clark. They want to be a passing team but QB Mason Binning has been somewhat careless with the football the past 2 games. The Loggers will be up against a Bruins team feeling desperate to win a conference game and with the potential to dominate a struggling team. If George Fox can find some early success on offense their defense will be looking to swarm like sharks against Mason Binning.

Week 6 Northwest Conference Power Ranking

  1. Linfield Wildcats
  2. Whitworth Pirates
  3. Lewis & Clark Pioneers
  4. George Fox Bruins
  5. Pacific Lutheran Lutes
  6. Pacific Boxers
  7. Puget Sound Loggers
  8. Willamette Bearcats