by Henry Miller | Staff Writer
The Pirates moved to 4-2 after beating Pacific Lutheran University 17-14 in Tacoma. The Pirates, despite senior starting quarterback Ian Kolstee out with a leg injury, defeated the Lutes in a show of passionate play. Unfortunately for the Pirates, they are out of playoff contention after two consecutive losses to top-ranked Linfield and George Fox. The Pirates motivation was to now to win for the joy of winning.
“There is something pure and good about that. I’m happy with the intensity we played at,” head coach Rod Sandberg said.
The offense faced a difficult challenge without their pre-season All- American quarterback. They were able to successfully evolve their offense to get the job done. Sophomore Leif Ericksen started his first game on the road against a team also facing crucial injuries. Ericksen threw for 121 yards in his debut.The Pirates had to change up their offense to help the inexperienced quarterback, and they did so with a strong run game. The Pirates utilized their running back Tariq Ellis, ‘20, and Freshman Quarterback Connor Johnson. Whitworth ran for almost 170 yards. Both Johnson and Ellis were responsible for Whitworth’s touchdowns, Johnson scoring the first of his career. The Pirates offense still turned the ball over twice, but this did not affect the outcome.
“Ben Roethlisberger [NFL quarterback] is most likely a Hall-of-Famer and he threw five interceptions last week. It’s part of the game. You have to work through that,” Sandberg said. Ericksen is still inexperienced, but this experience in games that are up to him to facilitate is going to be great in the long run for his career.
The Pirate defense played with a new intensity and new focus against PLU. The Lutes possessed the ball for ten more minutes than the Pirates did, but were continually stopped by the Pirate defense. The Pirates were great on third down with multiple stops on third down.
“Our coaches did a great job of mixing up calls and them not knowing if we were bringing pressure or dropping eight into coverage,” Sandberg said. The Lutes prefer a run-first offense, but were without a couple of crucial running backs. The defensive coordinators were able to play this to their advantage in the win.
There is currently no time table on Kolstee’s leg injury. He has been diagnosed with an injury similar to a high ankle sprain, and has been in a boot the past week. He is listed as questionable to return for next Saturday’s game against Puget Sound (2-3) at 1 p.m. in the Pine Bowl.