SPOKANE, Wash. -- Whitworth ground out a methodical 34-7 win over visiting Pomona-Pitzer in a non-conference NCAA Division III football match-up on Saturday afternoon at the Pine Bowl.
The Pirates improved to 1-0 while the Sagehens fell to 0-1 on the hottest day of the summer as temperatures hit 90 degrees by kickoff and reached 94 in the second half.
Pomona-Pitzer actually had an 18-14 advantage in first downs and the final yardage tally was only 317-231 in favor of Whitworth. But the difference is in the details. The Pirates averaged 6.1 yards per play, while Pomona was held to only 3.0 yards per play.
The Sagehens took the opening kickoff and marched quickly down field behind the strong running of tailback Luke Sweeney, who ran 10 times for 60 yards in the series to give Pomona-Pitzer a first down on Whitworth's eight yard line. But three plays from there netted -2 yards and the field goal was never attempted after the snap went through the holder's hands and Whitworth recovered the ball at midfield.
Ten plays later quarterback Bryan Peterson carred in from six yards out to give Whitworth a 7-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter Peterson completed a ten-yard pass to Jake DeGooyer over the middle and DeGooyer eluded several defenders to turn the play into a 55-yard touchdown pass. After a missed extra point the Pirates led 13-0.
Whitworth held Pomona on fourth down on the Pirate 24 yard line, then marched 76 yards in 13 plays with DJ Tripoli scoring from three yards away for a 20-0 lead with less than two minutes to play before halftime.
Whitworth then took the opening possession of the second half 63 yards in only five plays. Tailback Ronnie Thomas ran for 48 of those yards and scored from three yards away for a 27-0 Whitworth lead.
Whitworth's final score was set up when Fernando Noriega returned a short Sagehen punt 28 yards to Pomona-Pitzer's four yard line. Sean Scott scored on the next play for a 34-0 Pirate lead.
Pomona-Pitzer finally got into the endzone with 3:52 to play when quarterback Luke Ferguson snuck in from one yard away on fourth down. The Sagehens had four plays to try and score from the two yard line after Whitworth was called for pass interference in the endzone.
Thomas led Whitworth's ground game with 84 yards on ten carries. Scott finished with 43 yards and Tripoli with 33 as the Pirates gained 206 yards on the ground.
Peterson was 4-5 for 80 yards and one touchdown. Zac Hill completed 4-7 passes for 31 yards with one interception that went through the hands of a receiver and to Pomona's Andre Shepley. DeGooyer caught two passes for 68 yards and Devon Lind caught three for 15 yards as the Pirates stayed primarily on the ground in the second half.
Sweeney was a work-horse for Pomona-Pitzer, running 41 times for 176 yards. Fullback Zack Tannous added 49 yards on five carries. But Ferguson struggled, completing only 4 of 19 passes for 35 yards. And on three occassions passes that should have been caught were dropped by his receivers.
Freshman cornerback Paul Miller had a big game on defense for Whitworth, leading the team with nine tackles, including two for losses of four yards, while breaking up two passes. Freshman Danny Rowton, converted from running back to linebacker just last week, had five tackles while coming off of the bench. Casey Monahan had his first interception of the season, while first-year linebackers Grant Livingston and Sam Schloesler each came up with a fumble recovery.
Jacob Rawlins led Pomona-Pitzer with 10 tackles, while Kyle Roskamp was in on nine stops.
Whitworth will stay at home next weekend, hosting 20th-ranked Redlands at 1:00 p.m. in the Pine Bowl.
Pomona-Pitzer will play its home-opener, taking on Northwest Conference member Lewis & Clark.