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Pacific comeback falls short

Boxers rally from a big deficit against Dubuque but can't make it all the way back in a 31-29 loss

Buckle up your seatbelts, folks. It could be a wild and exciting ride with the Pacific football team this year, if this trend holds.

Hosting Dubuque (Iowa) on Saturday night at Hanson Stadium, the Boxers tried to pull off their second stunning comeback in as many games. Two weeks prior, they roared back from a 31-12 fourth-quarter deficit for a 32-31 victory at College of Idaho.

Against the Spartans, they fell behind by 17 points on two occasions, the second one early in the fourth quarter.

 - Pacific wideout Nathan Suyematsu gets upended by Dubuque's Derek Trotter during Saturday's nonconference football game. The Boxers rallied in the fourth quarter but lost, 31-29.

The Boxers closed the game on a 14-0 run thanks to two touchdown passes from Warner Shaw to Jason Smith, but despite the furious rally, the second comeback victory was not to be. Dubuque just held off Pacific to escape Forest Grove with a 31-29 victory, forcing the Boxers to settle for their first loss of the year.

“We gotta take a long look at what we’re doing to put ourselves in holes early,” Pacific coach Keith Buckley said afterward. “Against College of Idaho, we came out and started the game well, hit a lull and then came back strong at the end, and this one we kind of started with a lull.

“I didn’t feel like we were firing on all cylinders to start the game, and that kind of got us on our heels to start and took us a while to try and dig out of it.”

The visitors did seize the upper hand early. Rio Johnson hit Chris Bagley from 19 yards out at the 6:42 mark, and 90 seconds later, Dai-Von VanceJenkins scampered in from 12 yards out for a 14-0 Dubuque lead.

Pacific halved its deficit with Bronson Barretto’s 1-yard score 36 seconds before the quarter expired, but the hole only got bigger in the second. Dubuque’s Maurece Herrion scored from 2 yards out with 5:50 to go and then Curtis Prull hit a 28-yard field goal with 2:41 left to give the Spartans their largest lead at 24-7.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Pacific quarterback Warner Shaw heaves a pass down field during last Saturday night's nonconference football game against Dubuque.

In answer, the Boxers timed their final drive of the half perfectly. Starting from their own 14, they used four plays of at least 10 yards each, among others, to drive to the Dubuque 1, from which Shaw found Zak Porche on the right side with 8 seconds left.

That cut Dubuque’s lead to 24-14 at the intermission, seemingly giving Pacific some momentum, but the home team could not capitalize on it in the third quarter and punted on all three of its possessions.

The Spartans couldn’t score during the third either, but they struck paydirt on the first play of the fourth, when Herrion beat a couple Pacific defenders to the right corner of the end zone, putting the margin back at 17 points with 14:53 remaining.

The situation looked even more dire for the Boxers about five minutes later, when the Spartans drove to Pacific’s 16-yard line and appeared poised for another score, but Dalton Schwetz came up with a clutch interception in the end zone to give Pacific new life.

“At the end of the day, one of the positives coming out of this is we’ve proven we’re never down and out,” Buckley noted. “That is something that we’ve got to walk away with some level of positive-ness around — that these guys keep fighting no matter what.

“That’s two games in a row now that we could have easily kind of folded and packed our bags and gone home.”

Instead of going home, the Boxers went big. On the next play, Shaw hit Smith for an 80-yard touchdown bomb and Barretto converted the two-point try to trim the margin to 31-22 with 9:11 remaining.

Then, after forcing Dubuque to punt on its next possession, Pacific got the ball on its own 45 and got back to marching. When Shaw scrambled for 7 yards to the Spartan 19, another Pacific score seemed imminent, but instead, Derek Schambow intercepted Shaw’s pass and returned it 54 yards.

That could have forced the air out of the Boxers, but the defense answered by stuffing Dubuque at the 32, where Trey Kodama forced Herrion to fumble with 1:58 to play. Just four plays later, Shaw found Smith — who had a monster night with 10 catches for 179 yards and two TDs — once again, this time from 17 yards with 1:17 to play.

But alas, Dubuque recovered Alex Beekman’s ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

In the end, Pacific outgained Dubuque 432-381 in total offense. Shaw finished the night 31-for-46 for 409 yards and three touchdowns but also threw two picks. Nathan Suyematsu and James Berry combined for 10 receptions for 159 yards. The Boxers’ typically strong run game, which returns Barretto and Kamana Pimental from 2014, managed just 23 yards.

For Dubuque, Johnson was 18-for-27 for 246 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Herrion ran 25 times for 124 yards, and Dylan Schultz had five catches for 67 yards.

“We knew they were going to be a physical and strong football team, and we were going to have to out-execute them to win and we didn’t,” Buckley said. “I think from the plan perspective of what we were trying to do coming in, the plan was good. The plan was really good, because if we execute and don’t make the mistakes that we make, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

The Boxers get the chance to clean up some of those mistakes this Saturday, when they head to Los Angeles for their final nonconference game, against Occidental at 7 p.m.

Pacific’s next home contest is its Homecoming game and Northwest Conference opener, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Oct. 3 against Pacific Lutheran.


Local Weather



Forest Grove


Humidity: 71%

Wind: 0 mph

  • 1 Dec 2015

    Rain 42°F 37°F

  • 2 Dec 2015

    PM Showers 45°F 42°F