WHITTIER, Calif. – Jake DeGooyer posted career-highs for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions to help visiting Whitworth hold off Whittier 47-42 in a non-conference football game on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Pirates (2-0) built a 27-0 lead with less than five minutes left in the first half, but wound up having to stave off an onsides kick attempt with just under two minutes to play to preserve the win over the Poets (0-1) in the teams’ first-ever meeting.
DeGooyer finished with 12 catches for 232 yards with touchdown receptions of 6, 27 and 36 yards. Michael McCune played the final two and a half quarters at QB for Whitworth and completed 10 of 15 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Starter Bryan Peterson was 7-10 for 136 yards through the first 20 minutes of the game. He also threw two touchdowns and had one interception.
The Pirates finished with 546 yards of total offense – 394 in the air and 152 on the ground. Whitworth had a 29-18 edge in first downs and a 39:35 – 20:25 advantage in time of possession.
The Whittier offense started slow – the Poets only had one first down and 55 total yards in the first quarter. But once Chris Lopez connected with Dameron Fooks on a 72-yard touchdown with 4:10 to play in the first half the Poets were tough to stop. Whittier finished with 517 yards, 336 of which came through the air.
The Pirates jumped ahead 13-0 after one quarter. DeGooyer got the Bucs on the board with his six-yard touchdown catch from Peterson on Whitworth’s first possession to cap a 53-yard drive. Peterson then hit a streaking Connor Williams for a 63-yard touchdown with 58 seconds to go in the quarter to cap a 72-yard drive. Whitworth missed that PAT.
The Pirates appeared in complete control of the game when Ronnie Thomas and DJ Tripoli scored on touchdown runs of seven and six yards, respectively, on Whitworth’s first two possessions of the second half.
Thomas went on to post his second straight 100-yard game with 109 tough yards on 31 carries. He added two more touchdowns to lift his season total to five.
But then Lopez and Fooks took over the rest of the quarter. First with the 72-yard pass on the Poets’ first play after Whitworth had taken the four touchdown lead. Then again with 12 seconds to play in the half from six yards away to cut the Pirates’ lead in half.
The Bucs opened the second half by driving 75 yards on 13 plays, capped by DeGooyer’s 27-yard pass from McCune. But for the second time in the game, Whittier answered only one play later when Lopez connected with Kimble Tillman for a 68-yard score to pull the Poets within 34-20.
It seemed like Whitworth would continue to hold a comfortable lead when McCune hit DeGooyer for a 36-yard score. After another PAT miss the Pirates held a 40-20 lead.
This time it took the Poets all of four plays to answer, as Lopez and Fooks hooked up for a 65-yard score to finish off an 80-yard drive.
When Whittier forced a punt and went 58 yards on only three plays to pull within 40-35 on a 14-yard TD run by Anthony Walker with 1:45 to play in the third quarter, it appeared the Poets had all the momentum and might pull out the amazing comeback victory.
But Whitworth then went on another sustained, time-consuming drive to retake a two-touchdown lead. Thomas scored from 11-yards out early in the fourth quarter for his second touchdown to cap an 11-play possession that took 5:48.
Whitworth finally forced a Whittier punt and the Pirates were able to run off nearly three and a half minutes before giving the ball back to the Poets with 5:55 to play. Whitworth forced Whittier to drive 85 yards in 12 plays, not allowing the quick strike that had helped the Poets get back into the game. By the time Whittier scored on a touchdown pass from Lopez to Rufus Osby, there was only 1:57 left in the game.
The ensuing onsides kick was knocked out of bounds. Since Whittier had no timeouts left the Pirates were able to down the ball three times to run out the clock.
Lopez completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions to lead the Poets’ offense. Fooks caught five of the passes for 152 yards and three of the scores. Walker finished with 92 yards on only ten carries.
Ryan Loutsis led the Whitworth defense with nine tackles, while Grant Livingston and Aaron Cochran were each in on six stops.
Taylor Holland had a game-high 11 tackles for Whittier.
Robert Thullen punted in place of the injured Austin Ehlo and averaged 40.7 yards on three kicks.
Whitworth will make its third straight long road trip to open the 2012 season next Saturday with a night game at La Verne (Calif.).