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FOREST GROVE – In what was expected to be a battle between two high-powered passing teams, the difference was made on the ground instead as Pacific rushed for 327 yards and three touchdowns Saturday as the Boxers opened Northwest Conference football play with a 29-15 victory over Whitworth in front of a Homecoming crowd of 1,850 at Hanson Stadium.
Bobby Ladiges (Jr., Escalon, Calif.) and Kamana Pimental (So., Kaneohe, Hawaii) combined for 260 of those rushing yards as the Boxers averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Ladiges finished with 138 yards and a touchdown in 18 carries, while Pimental rushed 10 times for 122 yards and a touchdown, averaging 12.2 yards per carry.
The Boxers (1-2, 1-0 NWC) looked dominant against a Whitworth team that entered the game ranked 24th in Division III in total offense with an average of 495 yards per game. Pacific finished with 532 yards of total offense while limiting the Pirates (3-2, 1-1 NWC) to 318 yards. The Pacific defense sacked Whitworth quarterback Bryan Peterson three times and recovered a pair of fumbles. Pacific dominated the time of possession, holding onto the ball for over 41 minutes.
"When you're playing an offense like that, we knew we had to come in and run the ball offensively, chew up the clock and keep that offense come off the field," head coach Keith Buckley said. We were excited to get the ball on the opening kickoff, go down and score and set that tone early that early that we would chunk up the clock and chunk up yardage in the run game. You have to give it up to special teams, offense and defense for playing a full game."
Pacific quarterback Warner Shaw (Jr., Waimea, Hawaii) performed well despite the ground emphasis, completing 20 of 26 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. Caleb Roher (Sr., Gresham, Ore.) caught five balls for 51 yards and the Boxers' only passing touchdown.
Peterson completed 24 of 40 passes for Whitworth, finishing with 260 yards and a touchdown. Brett Moser caught five balls for 50 yards while Duke Degaetano led the meager Pirates' rushing attack with 31 yards on six carries.
After winning the coin flip, Pacific wasted not time getting on the board as they marched 66 yards in under two minutes. Ladiges rushed for 55 yards on three of those plays, including a three-yard drive for the touchdown. After Ian Escutia (Fr., Palos Verdes, Calif.) threw to Cade Wilkins (Fr., Happy Valley, Ore.) for the two-point conversion, Pacific held the 8-0 lead.
Whitworth drove deep into Pacific territory, but quarterback Bryan Peterson fumbled at the four-yard line and Jack Perez (Jr., Petaluma, Calif.) recovered the loose ball to end the scoring threat.
Pimental went to work on the ground on the Boxers' second scoring series, picking up 66 yards rushing on the seven-play, 92-yard scoring drive. He finished off the drive with a 13-yard run along the near sideline that, after the PAT, gave the Boxers a 15-0 lead.
Whitworth worked quickly to get into the red zone on their next possession, but a tough goal line stand by the Pacific defense, including a nine-yard sack by Jeff Bajema (So., Burlington, Wash.) kept them out of the end zone. The Pirates settled for a 31-yard field goal by Michael Zeng that made it a 15-3 Pacific lead with 5:33 left in the first half.
After two scores by way of the rush, the Boxers went to the air for their third touchdown of the half as Shaw found Caleb Roher (Sr., Gresham, Ore.) for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left. A 20-yard return by Brett Moser and a personal foul penalty put Whitworth back in Pacific territory immediately and Zeng converted a 38-yard field goal on the last play of the half as Pacific went into the locker room with a 22-6 halftime lead.
De' Hall opened the second half with a 38-yard kickoff return and Whitworth wasted little time scoring their first touchdown. Peterson went to the air twice, finding Connor Williams for a 32-yard reception and then for the 20-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was no good, but Whitworth was back within 10 points, 22-12.
Pimental made it a three-possession game on the Boxers' next drive, ending a 69-yard drive with a 41-yard scoring run that made it a 29-12 game with 11:42 left in the quarter. Whitworth's only other score came on the next series, with another Pacific defensive stand forcing the Pirates to settle for a 35-yard Zeng field goal with 8:38 left in the quarter.
Pacific did not get back into the red zone a grinding 12-play drive that ate up 6 minutes, 38 seconds, but was stunted when Moses Villareal-Gomez (Sr., Stockton, Calif.) missed a 26-yard field goal. Whitworth quickly charged back down the field, but saw it's last opportunity disappear when Peterson fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Eddie Carrillo (Sr., Milpitas, Calif.) and nearly run back for a touchdown.
"We knew that we would give some yards and some points, but limiting those first few scoring chances to field goals was great," Buckley said. "They moved the ball down the field, but defensively we buckled down. One fumble recovery and two field goals put us in great position early on."
Josh Brinkworth (Sr., Elk Grove, Calif.) led the Pacific defensive day with nine tackles while Avery Richardson (So., Corona, Calif.) finished with eight tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. Paul Miller's 12 tackles and two tackles for loss led Whitworth.
Pacific returns to NWC play on Saturday, traveling north to Tacoma, Wash., to face Puget Sound. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. A live audio webcast of the game will be available at GoBoxers.com. Whitworth returns home to host Willamette.
Boxers Turn To The Run Game To Beat Pirates On Homecoming
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