Photo by Hanna Grannis

Pio Pride comes back to Griswold

Football comes up just short at their Homecoming game

By John Trupin /// Staff Writer

In a season that has kept them on the road for two-thirds of their games, football had an almost perfect Homecoming game against Pacific University last Saturday afternoon. Lewis & Clark (0-8 overall, 0-6 conference), with heroic effort, pushed the first place Pacific (5-2, 5-0) to the limit in a back and forth contest that ended with a 48-42 Pioneers loss in overtime, in front of a massive crowd that lived and died with the Pios the entire game.

Facing a mighty Pacific defense, which boasted the second ranked defense in the Northwest Conference, the Pio offense exploded with its best performance of the season. Quarterback Cody Rochon (’18) gave a herculean performance, posting career highs in passing yards (333), rushing yards (127), touchdown passes (four), rushing touchdowns (two), and completion percentage (70.3). The entire offense played inspired football, with Michael Hawkins (’17) recording 13 catches for 125 yards in the best game of his career. It was a full team effort, with four different receivers catching touchdowns and surpassing 50 yards receiving.

“We had nothing to lose coming into the game, and it showed in how we played,” said offensive lineman Colby Mazzuca (’16), “that was the best performance we have had as a team all year.”

Confidence has been hard to come by in a season that has been full of disappointment and late losses for the Pioneers. However, something about this game’s atmosphere was different.

For linebacker Brennan Wortmann (’16) even though the game ended in a loss, it was a powerful performance from all the players.

Mazzuca said, “It felt like a culmination of all the frustrating games since last year’s loss to Claremont-McKenna College. For the first time since that game it felt like the entire team believed we were going to win the game in the fourth quarter. We believed it when they scored and when we scored and when we went to overtime. It was different.”

Every player interviewed agreed that there was a different vibe on Saturday, and that they felt they left it all on the field.

The team was invigorated by a raucous home crowd that swelled with LC students and alumni who were thrilled by the competitive display they witnessed from their team. Mazzuca held that the crowd was an integral part of the game for LC.

“We could feel their energy,” Mazzuca said. As the final whistle blew after Pacific’s overtime touchdown ended LC’s hopes of an upset, the disappointed Pios turned to their sideline and were met with a standing ovation from a crowd that was proud of the fight their team showed.

For lineman Patrick Blaylock (’16) and the other upper-level students on the team, the moment was bittersweet.

“It’s likely the last time I’ll ever play football at home, so it’s sad, but for a final home game this was almost perfect,” Blaylock said.

The Pios wrap up their season with one more shot at a victory against George Fox University (0-7, 0-5), a team struggling in their first year of football in the NWC. While the Bruins have over 50 more players on their roster than LC, the Pios hope to prove their worth. Mazzuca is sure the team will carry this confidence forward.

“We can’t be satisfied just because we played well this week. We can build on it though, for next week and next season,” Blaylock said.

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