by Josiah VanWingerden
The Pirates football team closed the regular season by beating the Lewis & Clark Pioneers, 47-19 on Saturday, Nov. 14, at home. The team finished second in the Northwest Conference and achieved a 9-1 overall record. This marks the fifth time the Pirates have collected nine wins in a season. The Pirates’ season resulted in at-large seed, advancing them to the NCAA 32-team tournament.
The match featured two teams on the opposite ends of the conference. The Pioneers came into the final game without a single win throughout the season. The Pirates did not break the pattern by gaining 531 total yards compared to the Pioneer’ 349.
Offensively, the Pirates started fast, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions in the first quarter. Sophomore quarterback Ian Kolste threw two of the touchdowns in the first quarter, including a 50-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Mason Elms. Kolste finished the game with 341 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He completed 21 of 27 passes, despite playing with a broken finger on his throwing hand.
In his first career start, senior wide receiver Christopher Forrest contributed five receptions, 74 yards and two touchdown catches to help the Pirates seal the deal.
The Pirates also took advantage an 174-107 edge in rushing yards and capitalizing on a 4.7 yards- per-carry average.
The Pirates’ defense held the Pioneers to 349 total yards, sacked the quarterback four times and came away with an interception. Whitworth had a 28-20 edge in first downs, in addition to scoring four touchdowns before Lewis & Clark had three first downs in the first quarter.
After Kolste found Forrest in the end zone for the second time, freshman place-kicker Rehn Reiley kicked a 46-yard field goal, capping a 37-6 lead at the half. Reiley made 14 field goals this season, including four from a distance of 45 yards or more, breaking the previous single-season record for the team which was nine field goals.
“To see the team gain confidence in each other and themselves was just a lot of fun,” Pirates Head Coach Rod Sandberg said. “Especially in the first half of the season.”
The Pirates will face the Linfield Wildcats Nov. 21, at 3 p.m. for their first game of the NCAA tournament. A full bracket can be found at the NCAA website.
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