PORTLAND, Ore. -- It was a long game as the Lewis & Clark Pioneers battled the Whitworth Pirates at Griswold Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Pios dropped their first conference game of the season to the Pirates, 68-30, after the Pirates' defense forced six turnovers and had eight sacks over the course of four-plus hours.
Aidan Verba-Hamilton totaled 331 yards receiving and set a new school record after nine catches, two of which were touchdowns. His performance broke a 17-year old mark for a single game, previously set by Nick Bodeman, by nearly 100 yards.
The Pioneers (2-2, 1-1 NWC) led briefly in the first quarter when Caden Voges found Verba-Hamilton on a 72-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the opening drive. It was short lived, however, as the Pirates answered on the first play of their next series when Leif Ericksen found Jerusalem To'oto'o for a 55-yard score, sparking momentum that led to 35 unanswered points for the Pirates (3-1, 2-0 NWC).
Lewis & Clark, which was vying for their best start since 2012, got four touchdown passes from Voges, who threw for over 400 yards for the first time in his career. He finished 21 for 33 and threw two interceptions as well.
The Pioneers defense started the game by forcing Whitworth to punt after three plays, but first-half miscues set Lewis & Clark back. Trailing 14-6, the Pioneers made a critical error on the next kickoff by letting the ball land and die without fielding it. The Pirates recovered on the one-yard line and running back Brad Mills ran in on the next play to extend the Pirates' lead to 21-6.
The following drive seemed like the opportunity the Pioneers needed to close the gap in the score when Elijah McGee broke a 32-yard run to the Whitworth 14, but turned for the worse when he fumbled the ball. It was knocked out of his arms and recovered by Jack McLeod. The Pirates punted on the ensuing possession.
The final gaffe of a tough first quarter came with 4:12 left in play when Voges threw an interception at the Lewis & Clark 25-yard line. The Pirates scored off their third one-play drive of the game. With the score at 35-6 with 3:21 left in the quarter, the Pioneers answered the Pirates and finally found the end zone on second and 10 when Voges completed a pass to Kevin Johnson for 13 yards. The TD was Johnson's first of the year.
The Pirates held a 48-18 lead and scored first to open the third quarter. Lewis & Clark scored on Michael Abraham's sixth touchdown of the season and Verba-Hamilton found the end zone again on a 67-yard pass from Voges.
Lewis & Clark added a four-yard touchdown from Voges to Dallas Garreaud four seconds before the end of the first half.
The Pioneers defense limited the Pirates to only 20 points in the second half.
- Cruz Montana made his collegiate debut, completing three of nine attempts
- McGee and Abraham combined for 77 rushing yards, with Abraham scoring one of the Pioneers four touchdowns
- Jalen Lewis had a career-high three receptions for 78 yards
The Pioneers are on the road next week, traveling to Forest Grove, Ore. to take on the Pacific Boxers at 1 p.m. on Oct. 19.