Early deficit sinks Pios on road

Photo by Chris Barron
Photo by Chris Barron

FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- Aidan Verba-Hamilton had two long touchdowns for the second straight week, but a 35-point halftime deficit was too much for the Lewis & Clark Pioneers to overcome in Saturday's 56-28 loss to the Pacific Boxers at Hanson Stadium. Verba-Hamilton's touchdowns came on the first three drives of the second half.

Pacific outgained the Pios 609-450. At one point in the opening half, the Boxers had 14 first downs while Lewis & Clark had yet to get one.

Defensively, Tawayne Malone had 14 tackles, the second most of his career, while Berkeley Neuman and Cameron Chang combined for three sacks. Neuman's was the first of his career.

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Key Moments

After Pacific scored on its first two drives, Lewis & Clark stopped the Boxers on their next two possessions. Late in the first quarter, the Pioneers were forced to punt from deep in their own territory, and a shorter effort by Jonathan Newsome, who was filling in for Randy Manewa, gave the Boxers the ball at the Lewis & Clark 41. On second down, Chang tackled Ty Hargis for a two-yard loss and set up a 3rd-and-4. The Pios got pressure on Pacific quarterback Kenyon Harris, but Harris escaped the pocket and found space down the middle of the field for a 35-yard touchdown run, his second rushing TD of the game. The score put the Boxers up 21-0 with seconds remaining in the quarter.

Pacific (2-4, 2-1 NWC) pushed the lead to 35-0 by halftime. Harris passed 33 for 39, 403 yards and three touchdowns to go with 41 rushing yards and two scores. Running back Josh Harris had two first-half TDs as well and finished the day with a 146 yards on 22 carries, a 6.6 yards-per-carry average.

Verba-Hamilton, who set a school record with 331 receiving yards last weekend, scored on the first possession of the third quarter when Pios QB Caden Voges hit him on a 49-yard touchdown pass. Verba-Hamilton also had an 11-yard rushing play earlier in the drive. After exchanging possessions, Voges and Verba-Hamilton connected again on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter. The drive was helped by two 15-yard penalties by Pacific, which was flagged seven times for 75 yards in the game. 

Competing for the first time since injuring his hamstring last month, Chang had two sacks that forced Boxers punts and four tackles for loss overall. Melvin Ho'omanawanui also batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage as he helped play up on the line in addition to his linebacking duties.

"Felt great to play with my brothers and have fun," Chang said. "Everyone worked well as a unit and the defense had each others' backs, but we have to get better next week.

"Mel stepped up and put his hand in the dirt every so often. He can do it. He has that mentality and he knows what he is doing. I have a lot of trust in him."

Leading rusher Michael Abraham left the game in the first quarter after two carries. Sophomore Evan Powers had a team-high nine carries for 46 yards, while Huero Lopez rushed seven times for 27 yards. 

With Cruz Montana at quarterback in the fourth quarter, Sam Mueller, who recently converted from quarterback to wide receiver, made a one-handed catch and raced to the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown, his first at Lewis & Clark.

Deeper Look

  • Dallas Garreaud had another strong road performance with five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, a performance that gives him 14 of his 16 receptions on the road this year
  • Garreaud is one catch shy of 70 for his career
  • Lewis & Clark (9) had more third-down conversions than Pacific (8), although the Boxers converted 57 percent of theirs
  • The Boxers averaged 7.6 yards per play and 9.9 yards per passing play with five of their six receivers averaging double-digit yards per catch
  • Hargis led the Boxers with 13 receptions for 135 yards, while Kobe Williams had five receptions and 80 yards before leaving the game with an injury
  • Newsome averaged 35.6 yards per punt and hit a career long of 63 yarder
  • Lopez averaged 27.5 yards per kickoff return and now leads the Northwest Conference in return average
  • Elijah McGee had another explosive weekend, averaging 15 yards per catch, but also fumbled for the second straight game, one of two turnovers by the Pioneers
  • Voges had his second-ever sub-42 completion percentage as a starter and both have come against the Boxers
  • Montana's pass to Mueller is his first collegiate touchdown pass
  • Pacific has defeated Lewis & Clark eight straight times

Looking Ahead

Lewis & Clark (2-3, 1-2 NWC) will seek to defend the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy against Willamette for Homecoming on Oct. 26.