LA VERNE, Calif. – Leif Ericksen and Andrew Meredith connected for three touchdowns and Whitworth opened its season with a 50-24 nonconference rout of La Verne on Saturday at Ortmayer Stadium.
Ericksen finished with five touchdowns and one interception. The senior quarterback from Kalispell completed 21 of 29 passes for 288 yards.
Meredith, one of several Pirates wideouts trying to fill the shoes of record-breaking receiver Garrett McKay, scored on all three of his receptions. He finished with 89 yards.
Nick McGill led Whitworth with six catches for 62 yards, including a 1-yard score right before halftime to put the Pirates up 43-7.
Isain Wong-Lonzanida also had a touchdown catch for the Pirates.
Brad Mills and Brayden Corona split the carries for Whitworth, with Mills carrying the ball 13 times for 72 yards. Corona added 62 yards on 12 rushes and added a touchdown on a 3-yard score in the second quarter.
Whitworth opened the scoring on its first drive when Ericksen found Meredith for the 20-yard touchdown. The duo’s other two touchdowns came in the second quarter on passes of 53 and 16 yards.
The Pirates finished with 544 yards of offense, while holding the Leopards (0-1) to 289 total yards.
Post Falls grad Zach Hillman led Whitworth with 10 total tackles, one for a loss. Linebacker Kale Wong also intercepted La Verne quarterback Sam Taylor.
Taylor was 7 of 17 for 138 yards and a touchdown. La Verne’s James Gonsalves carried the ball 16 times for 28 yards and a touchdown.
Whitworth forced three Leopards turnovers, while committing just one.
The Pirates have a bye next week before traveling to Orange, California, to take on Chapman on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. Whitworth plays its first home game on Oct. 5 when Willamette visits the Pine Bowl in the Northwest Conference opener for both teams.
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