Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
SPOKANE, WA – The Whittier College football team under second year head coach Todd Stratton got their 2013 campaign off in Spokane, WA Saturday afternoon but saw an offensive drought in the second half that led to a come from behind victory for the Whitworth University Pirates 38-17 at the Pine Bowl.
Whittier trailed 17-10 at the half totaling 129 yards but was shut down in the second being held to just 99 yards and a touchdown with a majority of the yardage coming from their final two drives.
Freshman Cody Mucino (Henderson, NV) opened things up for the Purple & Gold returning the opening kickoff 52 yards setting up Whittier's first scoring drive from the Whitworth 38 yard line. Six plays later tailback Anthony Walker (San Diego, Calif.) strolled in from 17 yards out that gave the Poets an early 7-0 lead less than three minutes in, which had high scoring implications on the line repeating the 2012 matchup when the Pirates won 47-42.
After a three and out, Whittier got the ball again but on their 31 yard line, Pirate safety De'Hall intercepted a Steven Rivera (El Monte, Calif.) pass and brought it down to the eight yard line allowing Griffin Hare to score from six yards out two plays later that tied the game up.
On the Bucs third possession, Bryan Peterson found Devon Lind for the go ahead touchdown 14-7 but late in the second quarter Whittier was able to pull within four after senior Alex Jungsten (Orangevale, Calif.) was able to send one between the uprights from 29 yards out.
Out of the break, the Poets regained the lead thanks to freshman defensive back Mundo Guzman (Covina, Calif.) who picked off a Peterson pass on their opening possession returning it 32 yards for his first career touchdown putting WC back on top 17-14.
On the ensuing possession, Whitworth would go 74 yards and regain the lead for good on just four plays in large part to a Peterson to Lucas McGuill hookup for 53 yards. From this point, the Poets were held scoreless, while Whitworth would add another 24 points, which included a 54 yard scamper from DJ Tripoli en route to the 38-17 victory.
Whittier was outdone in yardage 382-228 and was at a six minute disadvantage in time of possession. But the most important stat of the game came down to turnovers where Whitworth finished with a 6-1 advantage.
Rivera finished 9-26 for 78 yards with two picks and no touchdowns. Chris Lopez (Glen Avon, Calif.) who came into the game in the fourth quarter was 2-10 for 51 yards. Walker from the backfield finished with 60 yards on 19 attempts, while Makale Ruiz-McCobb (Pomona, Calif.) had three receptions for 42 yards, with newcomer Diante Jackson (Oakland, Calif.) hauling in three for 14.
For the Bucs, Peterson finished 11 of 23 for 205 yards with a touchdown and also ran for a score. Tripoli gained 112 yards on the ground, while Ricky Abernathy ran for 33 yards on six attempts. Drew Clausen was the leading receiver from either side with five catches for 94 yards.
Defensively, Whittier got to Peterson four times sacking him for a combined 34 yards. Two sacks came from Nathan Poole (San Diego, Calif.) for 16 yards, while linebacker Jacob Former (Huntington Beach, Calif.) finished with a team high eight tackles.
Whittier will host Puget Sound in their home opener next Saturday, September 21 at 1:00pm, while Whitworth hosts the University of La Verne next Saturday beginning at 1:00pm.