Box Score | Mills' Defensive 2-Point Conversion
FOREST GROVE – In a game punctuated by high scoring and big plays, including a rare 100-yard defensive two-point conversion, but it was Lewis & Clark coming up with the lion's share of those game-makers Saturday as the Pioneers rolled to a 61-35 victory over Pacific in both teams' Northwest Conference football opener at Lincoln Park Stadium.
The two teams combined for 14 touchdowns, with the Pioneers scoring nine of them to improve to 4-0 overall, 1-0 NWC. Two of Lewis & Clark's scores came on offensive plays of 25 yards or more and one came on a 58-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.
The game, however, will be remembered for the Boxers' big defensive play in the first quarter. After Lewis & Clark quarterback Keith Welch scored the first touchdown of the game with 12:11 left in the first quarter, Devin Lagorio (So., Stockton, Calif.) succeeded in blocking the Pioneers' point after attempt. While most everyone stood around, Bryan Mills (So., Imbler, Ore.) made a head's up play, running the ball back 100 yards for a rare defensive two-point conversion. The play, and play-by-play man Matt Richert's call, was featured as the Top Play of the Night on ESPN's Sportscenter.
Pacific (0-4, 0-1 NWC) finished with an impressive season-high 452 yards of total offense, which included 328 yards passing. The Boxers dominated the time of possession, holding onto the ball of over 35 minutes. Lewis & Clark was just as impressive, finishing with 524 yards, 281 of those coming in the air.
Both teams were heavily penalized, with L&C taking 10 penalties for 113 yards and the Boxers taking six penalties for 57 yards. Pacific was also bit by turnovers, giving the ball up twice in addition to losing the ball once on downs.
"We just have to continue to stop making mistakes and keep accentuating what we do positively to move the ball down the field and make plays defensively," said Pacific Head Coach Keith Buckley. "When you're young and inexperienced and when you're trying to make up for inexperience and lack of size, mistakes have to be minimized to stay in the ball game. We'll go back, watch film, fix the problems that we see and move forward."
T.C. Campbell (So., Kaimuki, Hawaii) had another impressive game at quarterback for Pacific, completing 22 of 36 passes for 280 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Kelson Kawai (So., North Kohala, Hawaii) finished with 115 yards receiving on five catches, while Jordan Fukumoto (So., Mililani, Hawaii) caught all three of the Boxers' touchdown passes. Davis Jacobs (So., Tigard, Ore.) had 10 rushes for 50 yards to lead Pacific on the ground.
Lewis & Clark quarterback Keith Welch was once again a one-man wrecking crew, passing for 273 yards and two touchdowns with also rushing for 106 yards and three scores. Joevonte Mayes led L&C in receiving, finishing with 127 yards and a touchdown on five catches.
After Welch's opening touchdown and Mills' now nationally-famous conversion, Curtis Shirey made it a 12-6 L&C lead when he scored on a five-yard run with 6:37 left in the first. The Boxers scored their first touchdown on their next drive. Campbell set up the score with a 70-yard pass play to Kawai, and then found Fukumoto on the next play to bring the Boxers within 12-9 with 4:44 left in the first.
The Pioneers tallied one more time in the first, needing only 2 minutes, 24 seconds to go 80 yards. Welch took it to the end zone himself, dashing for a 48-yard run to make it a 19-9 game. Welch struck paydirt again early in the second quarter, waltzing in with a four-yard run just a minute into the stanza.
Both teams went scoreless for the next 11 minutes before a flurry of scoring capped the end of the half. Campbell marched the Boxers 86 yards and found Fukumoto for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 to go to come within 26-15. Mayes needed only one play to take the score back when Welch found him for a 64-yard strike to put the Pioneers back up 33-15. Campbell responded with a four-play, 66-yard drive over the next 36 seconds, which ended with a two-yard pass to Fukumoto that brought the Boxers within 33-23 at the half.
The Pioneers effectively put the game out of reach in the third, keeping the Boxers off the scoreboard while putting up two more touchdowns of their own. Andrew Frisina made it a 40-23 game when he caught a 28-yard pass from Welch, and Mayes extended the lead to 47-23 with 6:44 left in the quarter with a 57-yard run. Shirey punctuated things with 10:10 left in the fourth quarter when he returned a punt 57 yards for the touchdown.
Pacific put their first points of the second half up with seven minutes in the fourth when Bryce Kershner (So., Jordan Valley, Ore.) caught a three-yard pass from P.J. Minaya (So., Wahiawa, Hawaii). The Pioneers added two more late scores, one of six-yard pass from Dustin Dailey to Bruce Taft with 4:03 to go. Adam Bell (Fr., Canby, Ore.) put the Boxers in the end zone one more time when he scored on a one-yard run with 2:10 left.
Josh Brinkworth (Fr., Elk Grove, Calif.) led Pacific defensively with eight tackles. Mills finished with six tackles. Logan Kotzian led Lewis & Clark with nine tackles.
Pacific hits the road for another challenge next weekend, heading to Salem on Saturday to face Willamette. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Lewis & Clark has a bye next week and will host Whitworth on Sat., Oct. 15.