This is a bit of an odd time to begin publishing my coverage of the Northwest Conference and SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) here. However, I have been slowly getting into the habit of writing and publishing through my Substack – The Western Address.
Through the early season out-of-conference slate, the two conferences are very much intertwined and effectively operate as a single conference.
Beginning with the week of September 23rd, the intra-conference play begins and lasts until the D3 Playoffs in November. Consequently, I’ll be publishing my coverage of the two conferences separately until then.
The Northwest Conference has a collective bye week causing a light schedule with only the 3 SCIAC games on tap.
For those unfamiliar with Division III, my Introduction to the Northwest Conference and Introduction to the SCIAC articles provide a brief crash course on these quality leagues. These introduce the schools to these two conferences and provide some background on the history of the schools.
And there really is some interesting history out West, including what is assuredly the closest geographic rivalry in all of college athletics.
But we’ll begin with a look at what happened last weekend and a quick glance at the action coming up this Saturday.
Week 3 Results
Cal Lutheran Kingsmen 27 | Pacific Lutheran Lutes 37
JP Andrade’s run of success through the air was an intriguing storyline last week. Although he still had a good game, it was not as impressive as their opener.
Instead, Lutes’ quarterback Darius Chaffin stole. His 6' and 175lbs frame seems liable to injury but his upside outweighs these concerns.
He is one of several players on the Lutes’ roster from the state of Hawai’i. The other star of this game RB Raysen Motoyama is also an Aloha State native.
An explosive 2nd quarter decided the game as Pacific Lutheran scored 27 points in the second frame. Motoyama had two TDs and 94 yards on the ground while Chaffin went 9/11 for 131 yards and a passing TD to pair with 86 yards and a TD on the ground.
The Lutes' defense was in attack mode and racked up an incredible eight sacks on JP Andrade. Despite this, Andrade was solid going 21/31 for 216 yards and 2 TDs and no interceptions.
After the layoff, Pacific Lutheran at Whitworth looks to be an exciting and competitive game.
George Fox Bruins 7 | CMS Stags 16
This game could be a Rorschach test for Bruins fans.
CMS is the projected SCIAC Champion. They are known to be a physical and defense-oriented program. As a result, their continued offensive struggles may not be the death knell for the Bruins season.
On the other hand, they have struggled in every game, scoring a total of 24 points through three games. Both quarterbacks, DeMontre Thomas II, and Max Richey, played as the coaching staff pulled Thomas at the half. However, neither showed signs of consistent execution.
The final score does not indicate how close this game was. The game was tied at seven until the final seconds of the game when CMS hit a 47-yard field goal with one second remaining and on the ensuing kickoff CMS scored a touchdown on a last-ditch George Fox lateral attempt.
The Stags showed resilience after losing RB Justin Edwards in the first half. Despite his injury, he still ran for 54 yards on 13 carries.
Without Edwards, the Stags turned to QB Walter Kuhlenkamp for the big play as he ran for a 65-yard touchdown with 2:44 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
George Fox goes into their bye week searching for answers on offense, but at this time it looks like it could be a long season for the Bruins.
Lewis & Clark Pioneers 13 | Montana Western Bulldogs 49
Given all the positive press I gave Montana Western after last weekend, I was surprised to see the Pioneers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but the tide shifted quickly.
On the Bulldogs' first play after Lewis & Clark had taken a two-possession lead, RB DJ Kirven broke free for a 75-yard touchdown. This run was the turning point. The Bulldogs raced to a 28-10 lead and the result was never in question.
Overall, Montana Western racked up nearly 600 yards including 288 on the ground on only 30 carries. QB Cruz Montana had flashes of brilliance for the Pioneers, hitting 20/36 for 230 yards, but was sacked three times and threw an interception.
The hope for Lewis & Clark is that games like these are a learning experience and harden them against future competition.
La Verne Leopards 26 | Puget Sound Loggers 21
This one was arguably the biggest surprise of the week.
La Verne opened their season with a loss to Willamette, regarded by many as the worst team in the NWC this season. After Puget Sound came back to beat Lewis & Clark, this was a winnable win for the Loggers.
It was not a tidy game for either side as both starting quarterbacks threw two interceptions in addition to Puget Sound losing a fumble.
The back-and-forth affair did not see either team get ahead by more than one possession, leading an interesting 4th quarter.
Puget Sound opened the quarter with a 4th and seven at midfield and completed a 25-yard pass before hitting a 25-yard touchdown on the next play.
After the conversion, this gave the Loggers a short-lived 21-20 lead.
The first play of the ensuing Leopards' drive was a bomb from La Verne QB Nicholas Garcia to WR Jimmy Rumsey for what should have been a 75-yard TD. Unfortunately, he received a flag for taunting assessed from the 10-yard line, erasing the touchdown. They would reset from the 25 but a few plays later they pushed it across the goal line to take the 26-21 lead that they did not relinquish.
With just over 12 minutes remaining, Puget Sound could not move the ball efficiently. The Loggers came away empty-handed as the Leopards intercepted their 1st and Goal pass from the seven-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Loggers, they did not have another chance. The Leopards ran out the final six minutes, driving the ball to the red zone as time expired.
Willamette Bearcats 7 | Southern Oregon Raiders 49
Willamette is arguably the most interesting school of the conference, being the oldest college or university West of the Rockies. Sadly, things do not look good for them this season.
Southern Oregon held them to 170 yards on offense and the Bearcats were uncompetitive. They gave up five sacks and threw three interceptions. Interestingly, Southern Oregon lost three fumbles. That may be a red flag for the Raiders as the season continues.
The schedule does not get any easier for the Bearcats as they draw a road game against Linfield to begin their conference schedules on September 30th.
Linfield Wildcats 17 | Redlands Bulldogs 10
Linfield may not lose a game before the D3 playoffs, though they may be weaker this year compared to last season. as they haven't been able to light up the scoreboard through their 2 out of conference games.
The Wildcats outgained the Bulldogs 303-240 and the two teams seemed fairly evenly matched as no single player stood out. The biggest difference was Redlands QB Tyler Tremain's two omterceptions.
We will see if Linfield can separate themselves from the pack in conference play while Redlands could find themselves in the SCIAC Championship Game if they can perform against Pomona-Pitzer later this season.
Whitworth Pirates 24 | Chapman Panthers 17
Chapman finally got an official result on the board, but they wouldn't leave their home opener happy with the final.
Chapman QB Nathaniel Espinoza stands out and he showed off his talents early in this one. The Chapman offense lost several pieces and their championship window may have closed. A running game outside of Espinoza is crucial if Chapman wants to have a special season.
Situated on the Eastern edge of Washington in Spokane, Whitworth is the most remote of these programs. They are also the only program in the NWC that is not close to the I-5 Corridor.
Whitworth's decision to utilize a 2-QB system, rotating between Austin Ewing and Ryan Blair is a curious one. Yet it appears to be their modus operandi and has paid off for the Pirates so far.
Luis Salgado had a solid game on the ground with 95 yards on 18 carries and Evan Liggett led the receiving corps with 95 yards of his own.
Pacific Boxers 17 | Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens 24
The Sagehens returned home from a disappointing finish against Carleton in Minnesota and they appeared to still be suffering from the trip, trailing 9-3 late into the 3rd quarter.
Pomona-Pitzer finally found paydirt at the end of a 10-play, 82-yard drive with 3:53 remaining in the 3rd. The touchdown gave them a 10-9 lead and lit a fire for the remainder of the game. Soon after, they quickly forced a three-&-out and then went 60 yards in four plays for another touchdown in the final seconds of the period.
That momentum did not last as Pacific took over at their own 17 following the kickoff, embarked on an 83-yard drive, and hit the two-point conversion to tie the game at 17 with 11 minutes remaining.
The pacing of the final period was different than the La Verne/Puget Sound game as QB Ethan Gretzinger took only four minutes to march down the field once again and give the Sagehens a lead they wouldn't give up on a 22-yard touchdown strike with seven minutes remaining.
Pacific suffered through a frustrating finish as they would turn the ball over on downs on the first drive but then force a quick punt to get the ball back at their own 30.
They moved down the field quickly getting to the Sagehens' 20-yard line with a minute remaining. However, they fumbled inside the 10 in heartbreaking fashion and Pomona-Pitzer ran out the clock.
Week Four Schedule
This week, the Northwest Conference has a collective bye week. As a result, the three games of the SCIAC comprise the slate. All SCIAC games are streamed through the SCIAC Network.
For context, the SCIAC only has six football programs, but they play an eight-game conference schedule. The conference schedule consists of three-team “pods” that play each other twice (four games) and the 3 teams of the other pod once (3 games). The eighth game comes during the final week of the regular season where the top team in each pod plays in a de facto conference championship game. Additionally, the conference schedules games between the runners-up in each pod and the last-place teams as well.
Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (1-1) at CMS Stags (2-0) | 1 PM PDT
This could be a trap game for the Stags. They are coming off a hard-fought game against a program with a struggling air attack and into a game against a talented QB in JP Andrade. As long as the Kingsmen protect their leader, this game will be close
La Verne Leopards (1-1) at Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (1-1) | 7 PM PDT
La Verne was a surprise last week, but I am not sure they will be able to keep up with the Sagehens if they still execute at a high level through the air.
Redlands Bulldogs (1-1) at Chapman Panthers (0-1) | 7 PM PDT
Chapman will feel the pressure as they open their conference schedule. Anything less than a SCIAC Championship will disappoint their fans after last season's success. They cannot afford to fall behind CMS in the standings.