Whitworth opens with crushing 56-13 win at Central - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Whitworth opens with crushing 56-13 win at Central

Photo: Whitworth Athletics Photo: Whitworth Athletics

Whitworth Athletics

PELLA, Iowa – Ian Kolste passed for 473 yards and six touchdowns, three to senior wide receiver Kevin Thomas, as visiting Whitworth rolled to a season-opening 56-13 win at Central College (Iowa) on Saturday afternoon.

The Pirates handed the Dutch their second-worst loss in school history as Kolste established a new career high for TD passes in a game.  Kolste is now second all-time at Whitworth for career touchdown passes (65) and for career passing yards (8,114).

What was expected to be an offensive shootout similar to last season's 50-49 thriller won by Central in Spokane started out as a defensive struggle and each team was forced to punt on its first two possessions.  But Chad Wilburg, a starting defensive end, turned the momentum in Whitworth's favor by taking a fake punt 26 yards into Dutch territory.  Kolste completed the possession with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Thomas.

That opened the floodgates as the Pirates would go on to score touchdowns on seven consecutive possessions.  Four of those came in the second quarter, leading to a 35-0 halftime lead.  Kolste hit Luke Divis from 30 yards out to make it 14-0 and then Thomas caught a short pass and juked his defender for a 19-yard score. Tailback Tariq Ellis carried in from two yards for the Bucs' only rushing touchdown of the day.  Then Kolste hit Garrett McKay from one yard away with 18 seconds left in the second quarter to give Whitworth the 35-0 lead.

Meanwhile the Pirate defense prevented the Dutch from gaining any kind of offensive momentum.  Central punted on five of its six first-half possessions and was stopped on downs on the other.  Whitworth outgained Central 359-132 in the opening half and had a 22-6 advantage in first downs.

The Pirates put the game completely out of reach early in the third quarter.  Whitworth held Central to six plays and three total yards on its first two possessions of the second half.  Meanwhile Kolste engineered two quick scoring drives.  First he found Thomas from 26 yards out to cap a three-play scoring drive.  Then he hit Brett Moser on a three-yard scoring pass to finish out a five play drive, giving the Bucs a 49-0 lead with just under ten minutes to play in the third.

That capped the day for Kolste, who completed 37 of 45 passes for 473 yards with his six touchdowns and no interceptions in just over two quarters of work.

Central finally found the endzone for the first time as Whitworth began to substitute liberally on defense.  Pat Gray ran in from two yards out for the Dutch.  Central added another score early in the fourth when Donny Groezinger sprinted up the middle for a 40-yard touchdown.

The Pirates added their final score behind back up QB Leif Ericksen.  Erickson found Nick McGill for a two yard touchdown with 9:18 to play.

Whitworth had advanced inside the Dutch five yard line in the final minute, but Ericksen kneeled down twice to end the game.  Ericksen finished 11 of 16 for 88 yards with one touchdown.  Pirate QBs tossed a total of 61 passes without throwing an interception.

Whitworth outgained Central 630-346, including a 561-161 advantage through the air.  Thomas finished with 10 catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns, setting career highs for yards and TDs.  McKay caught nine passes for 125 yards and a score.  Both Divis and McGill caught the first touchdown passes of their careers.  Casey Bond ran for 38 yards and Ellis finished with 33 to lead the Bucs on the ground.

Patch Kulp had seven tackles, while LJ Benson and Shai Pulawa each made six stops to lead the Whitworth defense.  Benson also had the Pirates' only takeway, an interception in the third quarter that prevented a Central scoring opportunity.

Dutch QB Nate Boland went 22 of 40 for 161 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.  Kohle Helle caught six passes for 21 yards.  All-American WR Sam Markham was "held" to five receptions for 50 yards.  Gray ran for 94 yards and Groezinger finished with 59 yards rushing.

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