The Pirates dominated out of the gate, shutting out the Bearcats 52-0 in their last game on Saturday, Nov. 10. Whitworth came into the game undefeated in the Northwest Conference (NWC) and also ranked #12 in Division III Football’s top 25.
One minute into the first quarter, the Pirates began their scoring with a 47-yard touchdown run by Mason Elms. After a three-and-out by the Bearcats, the Pirates added another touchdown on a one-yard run by quarterback Leif Erickson. On their next possession, Elms added another touchdown on a one-yard run. After more struggles on offense, the Bearcats punted the ball once more on their next possession. Erickson then connected with Bryce Powers for a 35-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive. Junior quarterback Matthew Castaneda gained some momentum for the Bearcats near the end of the first period with a 40-yard run, but unfortunately fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Whitworth. At the end of the first quarter, Whitworth led the game, 28-0.
On the second play of the second quarter, Erickson found receiver Brett Moser for a 33-yard touchdown pass. On their next drive, the Pirates increased their lead with a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Tariq Ellis. Castaneda was intercepted by Braiden Ayala on Willamette’s drive and Cody McDonald kicked a 32-yard field goal to make the score 45-0. This was the score heading into halftime.
The Bearcats had the ball first heading into the second half. They then had their longest drive of the game. Sophomore Miles Bryant replaced Castaneda as the quarterback. Bryant made some impressive plays on this drive, including a 13-yard rush to convert on a third down. He also connected with senior Matt Stone for a 17-yard gain, which put the Bearcats seven yards out from the end zone. Despite the momentum the Bearcats built on the drive, Whitworth made a fourth-down stop to end the 13-play, 63-yard drive. The rest of the game was largely uneventful, the Pirates made their final score on a one-yard touchdown run by Cole Hinrichs. The extra point made the score 52-0.
Castaneda finished the game with five completions on 12 attempts, for 46 yards and an interception. He added 56-yards rushing. Bryant was 9 of 16 passing for 36 yards. Senior Anthony Sammut led the team in receiving, with three catches for 52 yards. On defense, junior Alec Stevenson led the team with 12 tackles. Whitworth’s Erickson was 13 of 15 passing for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Whitworth finished the regular season undefeated, 9-0, and 7-0 in the NWC. With this game, they became the NWC champions and gained an automatic spot in the Division III playoff tournament. Willamette fell to 1-8 overall, and 0-7 in the NWC, which is an improvement from their winless 2017 season. This was the last game of their season. Castaneda’s 2018 season stats included 156 completions from 304 attempts, for 1,654 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He had 279 total rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Stone finished the season with 156 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also had 13 receptions for 107 yards. Stevenson had 76 total tackles this season, along with two forced fumbles.