SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University ran out to a 43-6 halftime lead on the way to a 57-24 win over visiting Willamette University in the Northwest Conference football season finale for both teams on Saturday afternoon at the Pine Bowl.
The Pirates finish 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the NWC. Whitworth has 25 wins over the last three seasons, tying the 2006-08 teams for second-most wins in a three-year stretch in school history. Only the 1959-61 Pirates, with 26 wins, had more in the same amount of time.
Record-setting QB Ian Kolste finished up his final game at Whitworth by completing 20 of 29 passes for 264 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He finishes his Pirate career with 10,467 yards of total offense, 10,118 passing yards and 85 touchdown passes.
All five touchdown passes came in the opening half as the Bucs built their big halftime lead. Mason Elms ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown in the first half, while Chase Takaki caught a pair of TD passes from Kolste. Kolste also found Michael McKeown and Kevin Thomas with touchdown passes in the second quarter. The throw to Thomas came on a flea flicker, and Thomas made the 31 yard catch despite good coverage by the Willamette secondary.
Whitworth outgained Willamette 320-194 in the first two quarters and had a 3-2 edge in turnovers. The Bearcats scored their only touchdown of the first half when Mathew Castaneda completed a six-yard scoring pass to Jeremiah James, briefly cutting the lead to 8-6.
Willamette scored on its first three possessions of the second half. Joey Thurman, who finished with 128 yards on 17 carries, scored all three of the touchdowns for the Bearcats.
Casey Bond, a senior, ran for his first touchdown of the season in the third quarter for the Pirates. Freshman QB Jared Oliver threw a seven-yard scoring pass to senior WR Cody Hand in the fourth quarter for the final points of the game.
Oliver, Leif Ericksen and Connor Johnson all shared snaps at QB in the second half for Whitworth and combined to completed 6 of 10 passes for 83 yards. The only Whitworth interception of the game came on the Pirates opening possession and was thrown by kicker Rehn Reiley on a fake field goal attempt.
McKeown caught six passes for 120 yards. Thomas and Elms finished with four receptions each for 67 and 21 yards, respectively. Ten different Pirates caught passes in the game, including senior Nick Kiourkas. Kiourkas closed his Whitworth career with at least one reception in every game he played, a streak of 41 in a row.
Castaneda completed 19 of 31 passes for 200 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Kevin Martz caught five passes for 58 yards, while James finished with four receptions for 41 yards and a score.
Alex Stevenson led the Willamette defense with 13 tackles.
Whitworth's win is its fourth in a row over Willamette, the Pirates' longest winning streak in a series that dates back to 1908.
The Bearcats finish out an 0-9 season, 0-7 in the NWC. It is Willamette's first winless campaign in its history.