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Pacific gets waylaid by airport fire in Chicago

Boxers must scrap football road game when their plane flight is canceled


A fire deliberately set at the FAA’s main ground control center in the Chicago area forced the cancellation of Pacific’s scheduled football game Saturday at the University of Chicago.

The Boxers were preparing to board buses to Portland International Airport on Friday when word arrived that the team’s scheduled 2:05 p.m. flight to Chicago Midway International Airport was canceled. As it was Southwest Airlines’ last scheduled flight to Chicago on Friday, the cancellation eliminated any chance of the team arriving in time for Saturday’s game.

The flight cancellations were caused by a ground stop forced on Midway and O’Hare International Airports after a fire was intentionally set in the FAA’s regional radar center in Aurora, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. The facility helps guide planes throughout the Chicago region on their takeoff and approach to both airports.

Pacific football was far from the only Portland-based travelers affected by the ground stop. According to the Port of Portland, at least 10 flights from Portland to Chicago on Southwest, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines were scrubbed due to the ground stop. According to the Chicago Tribune, more than 1,600 flights were cancelled at the two airports with another 800 delayed.

With the game canceled, Pacific will now turn its attention to Northwest Conference play and homecoming weekend. The Boxers open their NWC slate at home this Saturday against Whitworth.

Last year, Pacific rebounded from a 14-0 deficit to score 31 of the game’s final 38 points in a 31-21 road victory against the Pirates. That win gave the Boxers their first 4-0 start since 1950.

This season, Pacific is off to an 0-2 start following close losses to College of Idaho (35-34) and Dubuque (16-10).

Whitworth, meanwhile, is off to a 3-1 start with high-scoring victories against Lewis & Clark (63-10), Whittier (30-17) and La Verne (50-48). The Pirates dropped their first contest of the season last Saturday, 49-34 at home against Chapman.

Those early season shootouts have helped the Pirates develop into one of the top offensive teams the country. Going into this weekend’s game, Whitworth ranks 24th in NCAA Division III with 495 yards of total offense per game, and the Pirates have the third-ranked passing offense in the nation at 408.5 yards per game. Whitworth’s 44.3 point per game average ranks 17th in the country.

Saturday’s game is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Hanson Stadium in Forest Grove.

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