NEWBERG, Ore. – Whitworth University passed its first football road test of the season with flying colors with a 38-14 win at George Fox University on Saturday.
The 22nd/24th-ranked Pirates improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Northwest Conference while the Bruins fell to 2-3, 0-2. Whitworth also returned the favor of spoiling it's host's Homecoming Day following a GFU win in Spokane last season.
The Bruins led 6-0 after one quarter when quarterback Jack Taylor eluded a blitz and found Kenny May streaking open up the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown pass to complete an 86-yard drive.
Whitworth responded with 24 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 24-6 lead into halftime. The Pirates got on the board when Mason Elms ran in from six yards out to complete a 75-yard drive that followed the Bruins' score.
Whitworth forced a quick three-and-out and scored its second touchdown when Leif Ericksen scrambled in from seven yards out to complete a 43-yard drive. Garrett McKay set up the Pirates in good field position with a 19-yard punt return.
Braiden Ayala recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the George Fox 33-yard line. Six plays later Elms scored again from six yards away to give the Bucs a 21-6 lead.
After another three-and-out, Whitworth was able to get three more points when Cody McDonald drilled a career-long 39-yard field goal with 27 seconds to play in the half.
The Bruins hoped to regain momentum by taking the opening kickoff of the second half. The Pirate defense forced another three-and-out and the Bucs were able to start a drive at the GFU 31 yard line thanks to a kick catch interference penalty on the punt return. On third-and-five Ericksen passed 15-yards to Nick McGill, who hauled the ball in one-handed for a touchdown, giving the Pirates a 31-6 lead.
George Fox got within 31-14 late in the third quarter on Wesley Riddell's one-yard run.
The Pirates put the game out of reach with 9:31 to play when Ericksen found McKay for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Whitworth outgained George Fox 412-261. The Pirates had a 24-16 edge in timeouts and a 2-0 advantage in turnovers. The Bucs held the ball for 34:33.
Ericksen completed 27 of 41 passes for 254 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. McKay caught eight passes for 122 yards. McGill finished with four grabs for 42 yards. Anthony Ruiz caught a career-high five passes. Elms finished with 51 yards on 16 rushing attempts. Tariq Ellis had 56 yards on 13 rushes.
GFU used three quarterbacks. Taylor completed 13 of 17 passes for 174 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Connor Alexander was 4-4 for 30 yards, while Jaden Sheffey went 3-5 for 12 yards. Riddell ran for 34 yards on 11 carries. May finished with five catches for 103 yards.
Ian Black led Whitworth's defense with seven tackles, including 2.5 for losses of five yards. The Pirates had four sacks, including two by Chad Wilburg and one each by Andrew McCoy and Mason Miksch. Jayden Jira intercepted his first pass of the season.
Whitworth will return home for its own Homecoming festivities next Saturday against Pacific Lutheran (2-2, 1-1).