Eleven points was the difference between three losses and a perfect season. The 2013 Pacific University football season was nothing short of exceptional and could not have happened without the contributions of 38 dedicated seniors.
The season concluded on Nov. 16 with a home matchup against the Northwest Conference and Division III powerhouse Linfield College Wildcats. The Boxers came up just short of a victory, finishing the season with seven wins and three losses.
“To see all of the blood, sweat and tears that we put in the first three seasons turn into wins was awesome,” said senior quarterback T.C. Campbell. “Especially for the guys who stayed with us through all the beatings we took.”
Campbell’s hard work paid off as he was one of Pacific’s sixteen All-NWC selections. Ten of the selections were seniors.
Named an All-NWC honorable mention, Campbell appreciated the award but had his eyes on bigger things.
“I would trade in any All-Conference selection for a conference title,” said Campbell. “Personal acknowledgement means nothing to me, compared to bringing home a title to Pacific.”
The Boxers didn’t get a chance to play for the NWC title, but had an opportunity to cause a change in the hands of conference champs.
Pacific put up a good fight and gave Linfield their toughest challenge all season.
Late in the first quarter, junior Second Team All-NWC kicker Moses Villareal-Gomez nailed a 43-yard field goal to give the Boxers a 3-0 lead, making it the first time this season that Linfield trailed an opponent.
After a few more field goals by Villareal-Gomez, the Boxers extended to a 16-7 advantage, earning Villareal-Gomez NWC Special Teams Student-Athlete for the week of Nov. 11-17.
However, the four-time defending NWC champs rebounded with 21 unanswered points to go up 28-16.
In the final minutes, Pacific brought themselves within a touchdown of one of the biggest victories in school history. After two unsuccessful onside kick attempts, the Boxers were not able to get the ball back and the Wildcats escaped with a 28-22 victory.
“I wanted that win more than anything in the world,” said Campbell. “Our team worked so hard to get where we were and we were ready to take them down.”
“A win over Linfield would’ve been great. I imagine it would’ve made any doubters we had left realize that Pacific football is relevant,” said senior Second Team All-NWC safety Bryan Mills. “However, we still would’ve fell short of playoffs and that was our ultimate goal along with a conference title.”
In each of the three losses, Pacific was up on their opponent but saw their lead slip away in the fourth quarter of each game. The margin of losing was by a total of only eleven points: one to PLU, four to Willamette and six to Linfield.
“It’s probably going to haunt us seniors for the rest of our lives,” said senior All-NWC Honorable Mention quarterback PJ Minaya.
“The losses were definitely tough to swallow, especially when we were that close to winning,” said senior All-NWC First Team receiver Jordan Fukumoto. “However, in order to learn how to win, you have to learn how to lose. It is a learning process that I hope the younger guys can learn from which can lead to further success.”
What the Pacific football team was able to accomplish this season, in just the fourth year since reinstatement, was nothing but exceptional. From coming in as freshmen into a football program starting fresh, to building a championship caliber program.
“The guys who have the program now have the tools and the potential to win a championship,” said senior defensive lineman and All-NWC Second Teamer Sean Bangs. “The foundation has been laid, and they all have the will to win. Now all that needs to be done is watch film, lift and eat.”
It’s been a long journey for the seniors that have been here since day one. In the long run, it paid off as they set the standard for the future and gave everyone a team to be proud of.