It was an uncharacteristically warm October afternoon when the Pacific Boxers (3-1) took the field at McCulloch Stadium to go toe to toe with the Willamette Bearcats (1-3) for their first Northwest Conference matchup, but the offensive onslaught from Pacific proved too much for Willamette.
Pacific came out of the gates strong, leading 14-0 after the first quarter thanks to two touchdown passes by senior quarterback Kenyon Harris. The Boxer quarterback looked like Mozart with a football all afternoon, as he collected 233 yards through the air while throwing for 5 touchdowns and completing 70% of his passes.
The receiving core for the Boxers came to play as well. Redshirt sophomore transfer from Oregon Isaiah Pitre and junior Kyle Kern led the Boxer offense in receiving yards and caught two touchdown passes each.
“I think we have a lot of athletes in our room that can really make plays, and any one of us at any given moment can get open and make a play,” Pitre said.
The players proved that sentiment true time and time again as the Boxers found the end zone seven times and hung 49 points on the Willamette defense.
The Boxers led 21-7 after the half, and they wasted no time in putting more points on the board. With 10 minutes remaining in the 3rd Quarter, Harris threaded the needle to Pitre for a 40-yard touchdown pass, and the Boxers didn’t look back after that, scoring three more times in the second half.
Willamette looked uninspired on offense. They were only able to convert 2/12 third down attempts and were unable to get the ground game going, as Pacific’s stout defense only allowed 64 rushing yards all afternoon.
Junior safety Chase Hofmann led the team with 8 solo tackles, and Sophomore defensive lineman Carter Atkins recorded 2 of Pacific’s 6 sacks on the day.
Atkins was proud of his unit on the defensive side of the ball but knew there was more work to do.
“As a unit, we need to make sure we come out every single game playing the brand of Pacific Boxer defense that we should play every single game, and not lowering that expectation for any team,” said Atkins.
Bright smiles spread across the Boxer players’ faces as the sun glistened off the trees in the backdrop of McCulloch Stadium, and Pacific loaded the bus back to Forest Grove with a dominant 49-19 victory under their belt. — Patrick Muskat