The Northwest Conference – Week 9 Recap & Week 10 Preview

George Fox continues to look like the team that was expected in the preseason while Mason Binning and Izaiah Jerenz had a huge day for the Puget Sound Loggers

George Fox continues to look like the team that was expected in the preseason while Mason Binning and Izaiah Jerenz had a huge day for the Puget Sound Loggers
Source: Lucas Waldie

The lack of a widespread bowl situation at the Division 3 level takes some of the luster out of the regular season. The playoff format makes it statistically uncommon for any conference to have multiple playoff teams. The later stages of the year can feel a little hollow from the outside for a program mathematically eliminated. As a fan, we are left with just the hope of a standout performance and looking forward to the possibilities of next season.

Week 9 Results

Puget Sound Loggers 40 | Willamette Bearcats 21

Loggers QB Mason Binning may be one the most underrated Air Raid quarterbacks in the country. On Saturday, he had the best performance of his career.

After completing 41/66 against George Fox earlier this season, he went 45/62 for 482 yards and 5 TDs, though he did toss his eighth interception of the year and took three sacks. Izaiah Jerenz had an incredible 22 receptions for 264 yards and 3 TDs.

Despite Willamette's relatively poor performance, Alex Rivera IV completed only 9/27 passes. However, those nine completions went for long gains that totaled 254 yards and three touchdowns. Rivera had moments, but his lack of consistency hurt the Bearcats' chances of winning.

Pacific Boxers 27 | Linfield Wildcats 42

Although Linfield is not as dominant as in past years, this game was not as close as the final score indicated, as the Wildcats sprinted out to a 23-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Braeden Titus made his first start and showed flashes of brilliance. He completed only 16/35 for 209 yards and an impressive four touchdowns, but also two interceptions, including a first-quarter pick-six. The Boxers’ top receiver, Isaiah Pitre, had three receptions for 53 yards and caught two of Titus’ touchdown passes.

The running game had 152 yards between Brody Bantolina and Kalai Pasi. Yet, most of those yards came on an 83-yard run from Bantolina and a 23-yard scamper from Pasi, leaving the squad with a more dreary 46 yards on the other 25 carries between the two of them.

For Linfield, QB Blake Eaton had another solid game of 240 yards and 3 touchdowns, but had an interception of his own and only completed 18/35, well below his expected completion rate.

The run game was the backbone of the offense, with 247 yards on 36 carries, led by Connor McNabb and Jackson Pfeiffer.

Whitworth Pirates 63 | Lewis & Clark Pioneers 21

The Pirates’ offense has been a force this season, once again hitting 600 total yards and scoring all nine touchdowns spread evenly across the four quarters.

Backup QB Ryan Blair even got in on the action for a passing game led by Austin Ewing, who went 23/31 for 333 yards and 4 TDs with no turnovers or sacks marked against it. The ground game contributed 273 yards on 44 carries and five touchdowns led by Solomon Hines with 13 carries for 104 yards with two scores.

As the Pioneers' passing game faltered, they looked to the running game to move their offense and found 138 yards from Elijah Washington. Washington's performance complemented Trey Morris, who completed 15/20, but he only tallied 175 yards with a touchdown and interception.

This was a dominant effort from the Whitworth offense, who scored touchdowns on nine of their ten possessions; the sole failed possession was a blocked field goal on the final play of the first half.

Pacific Lutheran Lutes 25 | George Fox Bruins 35

George Fox has finally found the offense they expected to have all season, and what a difference that would have made.

DeMontre Thomas II had an excellent game, completing 17/20 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. He was nearly flawless and is beginning to hit his throws at all levels with more consistency. His recent development suggests that he should be the frontrunner for the starting position next season. Development is rarely linear, and the former Portland State scout team QB is seeing the fruits of his labor in Newberg.

The running game was not nearly as strong as last week, totaling only 93 yards on 40 carries. Pacific Lutheran is generally a stout defensive squad, and the output from the run game was more in line with previous games.

The game was not as close as the final score as George Fox had taken a 35-10 lead early in the 4th quarter before Darius Chaffin led the Lutes to two late touchdowns. Late-game defense has been a recurring problem for the Bruins this year, one they need to improve on in the remainder of the year.

The Bruins' defense frustrated Darius Chaffin for much of the game, as Pacific Lutheran sacked him five times. He showed his development as a quarterback and completed 22/29 for 240 yards and a touchdown. He added two touchdowns on the ground and excluding his sacks, had 40 yards on eight carries.

There will be a feeling of wasted potential around the Bruins’ season, but the 4th quarter defense has doomed them in several games.

Week 10 Schedule (Pacific Time)

Linfield Wildcats (7-0, 5-0) at Pacific Lutheran Lutes (4-4, 3-2) | 1 PM

Linfield must be careful not to look past the Lutes with Whitworth sitting on the horizon. Darius Chaffin has been consistent recently but still tends to hold the ball too long.

The Lutes struggle to defend the deep ball effectively. They should expect Blake Eaton to keep his eyes down the field early and often, especially if Linfield struggles running the ball.

George Fox Bruins (3-5, 2-3) at Whitworth Pirates (7-0, 5-0) | 130PM

Whitworth has not faced much opposition against the Northwest Conference this season. Although this may have looked like a key game before the season, it is unlikely that the Bruins will be able to keep up with the Pirates.

George Fox is capable of playing physically with their front seven and containing the run game, but the secondary has been the weakness.

Austin Ewing should be the frontrunner for NWC Offensive Player of the Year with an 18-1 TD-INT ratio and 72% completion rate through seven games as he finishes his collegiate career.

Beyond Ewing, the Pirates have several top receivers and running backs, including Dillon Kuk, Evan Liggett, Luis Salgado, and Solomon Hines.

Willamette Bearcats (1-7, 0-5) at Pacific Boxers (1-6, 1-4) | 4 PM

Their records may look similar, but Pacific has been the far more competitive team.

It is difficult to find any positives for Willamette on the season with their season-long struggles. It will be interesting to see who gets most of the reps through these final two weeks.

Pacific is a defense-first squad, but their offense has flashes of potential. As disappointing as their season has been, many of their top contributors appear to be returning next season, and they should be motivated to keep producing to develop and stay in good favor.

Puget Sound Loggers (3-4, 2-3) at Lewis & Clark Pioneers (3-5, 2-3) | 6 PM

The rematch of the Northwest Scholars non-conference tilts from earlier this season between two of the more aggressive spread offenses in the conference.

The Loggers are the same team they were to open the season, but the Pioneers have had a bumpier ride with some question marks around their quarterback play. Trey Morris has remained the starting quarterback since his huge comeback against George Fox. However, his performance declined. The Pioneers reinserted Cruz Montana at times and leaned more on Elijah Washington and the run game.

Eliminating turnovers and maintaining a high completion percentage will be key for Puget Sound’s success. Mason Binning has shown potential for a breakout season next year. He has two 400-yard games this season that have come on 60+ attempts, a high volume of passes.

Week 10 Northwest Conference Power Ranking

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