SPOKANE, Wash. – Ian Kolste threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns, two to Garrett McKay, and Duke DeGaetano ran for three other touchdowns to lead Whitworth to a 56-32 win over visiting Puget Sound in a Northwest Conference football game on Saturday at the Pine Bowl.
The Pirates improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the NWC with their fourth straight win, despite the fact that that Loggers (2-2, 0-2 NWC) finished with a 606-508 edge in total yards and 33:08 – 26:52 advantage in time of possession.
But Whitworth got a key 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Jordan Pride and the Pirate defense intercepted Puget Sound QB Hans Fortune twice.
It took Whitworth just over one minute to score its first touchdown of the game. DeGaetano’s two-yard run capped a 63-yard drive that took only five plays and 1:07. Jonah Koski passed to McKay for a two-point conversion to give the Bucs an 8-0 lead.
But Puget Sound answered with an 11-play, 82-yard drive to pull within 8-7 after Fortune hit Aiden Santino with a 13-yard TD pass.
Two plays later Kolsti found McKay streaking wide open for an 84-yard touchdown bomb. It took only 18 seconds to complete the Pirates’ drive for a 14-7 lead. DeGaetano’s two-point conversion run was stopped short.
After an exchange of possessions that included LJ Benson’s interception of Fortune, the Loggers were able to pull within 14-10 on a 33-yard field goal by Michael Andris that capped a 74-yard drive. That is as close as Puget Sound would get the rest of the way. Pride took the ensuing kickoff at his three yard line, found a seam up the middle and broke away from the defense for the 97-yard kickoff return, giving Whitworth a 21-10 lead late in the first quarter.
The Bucs were able to score 21 first-quarter points with only three minutes and three seconds of time of possession.
The Pirates extended the margin to 28-10 early in the second quarter when DeGaetano broke loose on a 27-yard touchdown run, finishing off a 40-yard drive that was set up by a defensive stand and a short Logger punt that went out of bounds.
Kolste sandwiched a 12-yard TD pass between two Fortune touchdown passes later in the second quarter. The first Logger TD went to Santino from six yards and the second was a 28-yard pass to Brennan Schon just before halftime, cutting the lead to 35-24 at the break.
Puget Sound had a 372-300 edge in total offense at halftime, but Whitworth had the more important advantage on the scoreboard.
The second half tone was set when the Pirates forced a three-and-out for Puget Sound to open the second half. Whitworth then went 51 yards to increase the lead to 42-24 on DeGaetano’s third touchdown run of the game. DeGaetano now leads the Northwest Conference in rushing touchdowns this season (11), by a wide margin.
Neither team scored the rest of the third quarter. Puget Sound had a chance to pull closer, but the Loggers fumbled at the Whitworth one yard line late in the period and Dalin McDonnell recovered the fumble in the Pirates’ endzone for a touchback.
Whitworth took the following drive 80 yards in 12 plays. Kolste found Kiourkas from seven yards out for his second passing TD of the game, giving Whitworth a 49-24 lead. The possession took 4:01, the longest of the game for the Bucs.
Taylor Roelofs intercepted Fortune at midfield on the very next play. Seven plays later Kolste burned a Puget Sound blitz by lofting a 19-yard touchdown pass to McKay with 11:46 to play in the game, giving the Pirates a 56-24 advantage.
The Loggers scored their final touchdown with 9:47 to play when Fortune lobbed a one-yard pass to Sean Whaley, finishing off an 82-yard drive.
Kolste finished 31-40 (78%) for 355 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Kolste has thrown 14 touchdowns in 2016 with only two interceptions. McKay caught ten of Kolste’s passes for 169 yards with two touchdowns. Mason Elms finished with five grabs, while Kevin Thomas had four catches for 64 yards.
DeGaetano surpassed 100 rushing yards in a game for the first time this season. He ran for 109 yards on 17 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per run.
Fortune completed 42 of 65 passes for 496 yards for Puget Sound. He had four touchdowns and two interceptions. Schon caught 14 passes for 221 yards and one score. Dustin Harrison had 10 catches for 122 yards. Santino finished with eight catches for 68 yards and two scores. Fortune also ran for 53 yards to finish with 549 yards of total offense.
Luke Peterson led the Whitworth defense with 13 tackles, while Patch Kulp was in on ten stops. Roelofs had a big day, finishing with seven tackles, an interception and three other passes broken up.
The Pirates will return to action next Saturday at Pacific Lutheran (3-1 overall, 2-0 NWC).