Looking to end its first losing streak in three seasons, Whitworth University will travel to Pacific Lutheran University for a Northwest Conference football contest on Saturday at 1:00 pm. The game will be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the world wide web at KSBN.net. The radio broadcast will begin at 12:45 pm.
The Pirates (3-2, 0-2 NWC) are looking for their first NWC victory after losses to Linfield and George Fox. The Lutes (1-2, 1-1 NWC) are coming off of a 24-20 loss at Pacific (Ore.).
Live Links for Saturday's game:
Whitworth (3-1, 0-2 NWC)
Pacific Lutheran (1-2, 1-1 NWC)
Saturday - Oct. 14
The Pirates: A slow start doomed the Pirates in a 43-23 loss to George Fox last Saturday in the Pine Bowl. The Bruins took a 20-0 lead into halftime and withstood Whitworth's efforts in the second half to earn their first win over the Bucs in four tries.
The Whitworth offense was limited to a season-low 359 yards, 240 through the air and 119 on the ground. Ian Kolste completed 21 of 28 passes for 162 yards with one touchdown before he left the game with an injury in the third quarter. Leif Ericksen came on to complete 7 of 13 passes for 78 yards with a touchdown. Garrett McKay caught ten passes for 85 yards while Kevin Thomas and Brett Moser both caught touchdowns. Mason Elms had a solid day running the ball, finishing with 64 yards on ten carries (6.4 yards per rush) and one touchdown.
George Fox rolled up 553 yards of offense on the Pirate defense. The Bruins threw for 261 yards and ran for 292, mostly behind QB Grant Schroeder. George Fox finished with 25 first downs and held the ball for over 37 minutes of possession. Patch Kulp was in on 15 tackles to lead the defense. Shai Pulawa had 11 stops and Chad Wilburg had tackles and blocked a field goal. Zach Hillman had a nine yard sack that stopped George Fox's first possession.
Rehn Reiley made one out of two field goals, from 28 yards. He averaged 42.5 yards per punt and had three touchbacks on his five kickoffs. Luke Divis averaged 23.3 yards per kickoff return. John-Robert Woolley blocked two extra points.
Click her for a photo album of the George Fox game provided by Dick Thomas.
Homecoming, Again: Whitworth will play in its third straight Homecoming Game on Saturday at PLU. The Pirates were the Homecoming opponent for Linfield on September 30th. Whitworth hosted George Fox for its own Homecoming celebration last Saturday. This week it is PLU's turn to celebrate Homecoming and the Bucs are again the opponents.
The Last Time…: Whitworth last lost back-to-back games was in 2014 when the Bucs fell 49-34 at home to Chapman on September 27th and 29-15 on the road at Pacific on October 4th in Rod Sandberg's first season as head coach. The Pirates went on to finish 6-4 that year, 4-3 in the NWC.
Panama '18: The Whitworth football team will go to Panama in May of 2018. The trip will include a game against the Panama national football team, a service project in the rainforest, and several sightseeing opportunities including the Panama Canal. The NCAA allows teams to make an international trip in the off-season once every four years. Click here for more information.
Team Captains: The Pirate team captains in 2017 are Ian Kolste and Garrett McKay from the offense and Patch Kulp and Taylor Roelofs from the defense. A special teams captain will be selected on a week-by-week basis. The 2017 Special Teams captains have been:
Sept. 2 – John-Robert Woolley
Sept. 9 – Casey Bond
Sept. 16 – Kevin Thomas
Sept. 30 – Casey Bond
Oct. 7 – Chase Takaki
Gunslinger: QB Ian Kolste has broken several career records at Whitworth. In the first half against La Verne on September 16th he surpassed Joel Clark's career records for passing yards (8,513) and touchdown passes (71). Kolste has passed for 9,098 yards and 73 touchdowns as a Pirate. Kolste also holds the Pirates' career record for completions (853) and total passes (1,283). Kolste is also within range of Clark's career record for total offense (9,656). Kolste has 9,454 total yards through five games of the 2017 season.
Kolste earned first team All-NWC and second team All-West Region (D3football.com) following the 2016 season. He set single-season school records for plays (552), total offense (3,831), pass attempts (488), pass completions (351) and passing yards (3,790). He tied the school record with 29 touchdown passes (with Joel Clark). Kolste set an NCAA DIII record for pass completions per game (35.1).
He was tabbed as a second team preseason All-American by Hero Sports heading into 2017.
I am Ironman: Taylor Roelofs has started all 36 games of his Pirate career to this point. The senior corner back has been a stalwart for the Whitworth defense. He has 141 tackles, seven interceptions and 36 passes defended over his three-plus seasons. Roelofs has been named second team All-Northwest Conference twice, as a sophomore and junior.
Going Streaking: Senior Nick Kiourkas has caught a pass in 36 straight games. He has caught at least one pass in every game of his Pirate career dating back to 2014, a remarkable streak of ability and consistency. Similarly, redshirt junior Garrett McKay has at least one catch in every game of his Whitworth career, which is 28 straight games and also dates back to the first game of 2014. McKay was injured in the second game of the 2014 season and was granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA.
Spreading the Wealth: Whitworth has a deep and capable receiving corps once again in 2017. Sixteen different Pirates have caught at least one pass so far this season, and 12 players have four catches or more. Nine different Pirates have caught a touchdown this season. Garrett McKay currently has the team lead with 34 receptions and 356 receiving yards. Kevin Thomas has caught four touchdowns.
Looking Back at 2016: Whitworth bounced back from a season-opening 50-49 overtime loss to Central to finish 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the NWC. The victory total included comeback wins at La Verne and Pacific Lutheran when the Bucs trailed by double digits in the fourth quarters of both games. Whitworth surpassed 50 points four times last season and set a school record for scoring average (45.9 points per game). The Pirates also set school records for passing yards (3,944) and total yards (5,262) in one year. Whitworth's only other loss came to nationally-ranked Linfield by a score of 45-31.
National rankings: Whitworth fell out of the national rankings in both Division III polls this week.
NWC Poll: Whitworth finished second in the NWC coaches poll with 42 points and one first place vote (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own school). Eight-time defending champion Linfield finished first in the poll with seven first place votes and 56 points. George Fox was third with 37 points. Link to NWC Football Coaches Poll.
On the Air Again: Whitworth's games are once again carried live this season on KSBN 1230am in Spokane. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 23 years. Bud Nameck, familiar to listeners in Spokane as the host of the KXLY 920am Morning News, is in his second season as the voice of the Pirates in 2017. He was the voice of Washington State University men's basketball for 22 years, and spent that same amount of time on the Cougar football broadcasts – the final three on play by play. He is a longtime resident of the Inland Northwest who began his career as the Sports Information Director and radio voice of Gonzaga University basketball and baseball in the 1980s.
Two SWX Broadcasts: Local cable station SWX will carry two of Whitworth's games this season: the Homecoming game against George Fox (Oct. 7), and the October 21 game against Puget Sound. Sam Adams and Mike Peterson will provide play by play and color analysis. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 112 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho. Click here for a complete list of station numbers throughout the Eastern Washington/North Idaho region.
The Head Coach: Rod Sandberg has had a huge impact on the Pirate program in his first three years as head coach, posting a 23-8 record and leading the Bucs to the NCAA playoffs in year number two. He had 28 players earn All-Northwest Conference recognition in 2015 and 2016. Sandberg spent 19 seasons on the defensive staff at Wheaton College (Ill.), including the last 11 as defensive coordinator. Wheaton made the NCAA Division III playoffs five times during Sandberg's tenure as defensive coordinator. The team never lost a first round playoff game and reached the Division III semifinals in 2008 and quarterfinals in 2003. Sandberg's 2007 and 2013 squads led the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, regarded as one of the strongest football leagues at the Division III level, in scoring defense. The Thunder were second in the league in scoring defense five other times.
The Lutes: Pacific Lutheran University is 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the NWC this season. The Lutes had a non-conference home game against Warner (Fla.) cancelled when the team was unable to fly out following Hurricane Katrina. The Lutes defeated Puget Sound 23-13 in its conference opener and fell 24-20 at Pacific last Saturday.
Head coach Scott Westering is 70-52 in his 14th year as PLU's head coach. He has led the Lutes to five runner-up finishes in the NWC over that span. Named to the position in February 2004, Scott took over for his father, Hall-of-Famer Frosty Westering, who served as PLU football head coach for 32 years. Scott had been the offensive coordinator since 1983.
PLU has scored 64 points this season (21.3 ppg) and allowed 64 points. The Lutes are averaging 345 yards per game (128 rushing and 217 passing) and giving up 380 yards per contest (135 rushing, 245 passing).
After splitting time last season, junior QB Cole Chandler has taken over as the Lutes' full-time guy in 2017. He has completed 59% of his passes for 650 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions and has run for a pair of scores. Senior TE DJ Winter has 13 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns, while senior WR Jacob King has caught 11 passes for 166 yards and one TD. Like Whitworth, PLU uses a running back-by-committee system, led by senior Kyle Madsen who has 106 yards and one touchdown. Senior DB Travis McMillion, a second team All-NWC honoree in 2016, leads the defense with 26 tackles. Fellow senior DB Tabby Yu has two of the team's four interceptions. Junior DL Jordan Zimmerman has 3.5 sacks.
Last week PLU appeared poised to win at Pacific after picking up a first down at the Boxers' nine yard line late in the game. But Pacific made a stand and held on for the 24-20 victory. PLU outgained the Boxers 455-346 and had a six-minute edge in time of possession. Chandler completed 21 of 30 passes for 301 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Winter caught six passes for 97 yards, while King has seven receptions for 95 yards. Marc Gallant ran for 81 yards on only five carries. McMillion led the team with ten tackles while Zimmerman had two sacks.
The Series: PLU has more wins against Whitworth than any other school and leads the all-time series 51-21. At one time the Lutes had won 32 straight games against the Bucs. But Whitworth ended that streak in 2001. The Pirates won six in a row from 2004-09 then the Lutes then won five straight from 2010-14. Whitworth has now won two in a row. The largest winning margin in the series is a 67-0 win for the Pirates in 1961. PLU's biggest margin of victory is 47-0 in 1970. The first meeting was a 27-0 victory for the Lutes in 1931.
Last Year: Whitworth did not take its first lead in last season's 45-41 win at Pacific Lutheran until 41 seconds were left in the game, when Duke DeGaetano ran for a ten-yard touchdown. DeGaetano's TD, his third of the game, capped the largest fourth quarter, come-from-behind victory in 35 years for the Pirates. Whitworth trailed 41-24 with just over 11 minutes to play in the game after PLU returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown.
Ian Kolste completed 47 of 65 passes for 386 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for a touchdown. Garrett McKay caught 12 of the passes for 118 yards. His 44-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter cut Whitworth's deficit to 28-21 at halftime. Kevin Thomas caught nine passes for 52 yards, including three tough third down conversions. He also had a TD catch.
The Whitworth defense stiffened in the second half and allowed only one touchdown. After the Lutes scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the game, PLU scored only one offensive touchdown over its final eight possessions. The Pirates came up with three straight stops in the fourth quarter, allowing the offense to score three straight touchdowns. PLU was limited to only 78 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter and went 0-3 on third down conversions. LJ Benson had eight tackles and made a third quarter interception deep in Pirate territory to prevent a PLU touchdown. Chandler completed 8 of 12 passes for 99 yards and a TD for PLU. He also led the team with 60 yards rushing and two scores.
The Pirates got solid play throughout the special teams. Rehn Reiley made his only field goal attempt, from 34 yards into a strong wind. He was 6-6 on extra points and averaged 63.3 yards per kickoff, with two touchbacks. He also averaged 40.5 yards on both of his punts.
Coming up next: Whitworth will return home to host Puget Sound at the Pine Bowl on October 21st. The game will begin at 1:00 pm.