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Pirates approach home opener with 3-0 record

Whitworth University (Whitworth University)
Whitworth University (Whitworth University)

The Whitworth Pirates are 3-0 for the first time since 2006 and today they’ll play a home game for the first time this season.

All is good, except for an injury list that takes way too long to read. The Pirates have lost three starters to season-ending injuries and they’ll be without two key backups for a 1 p.m. nonconference matchup versus Chapman at the Pine Bowl.

“It’s been unfortunate, but the thing so far is we’ve had guys step up and do well,” Pirates coach John Tully said. “A perfect example is our kicker (Robert Thullen) who didn’t travel the first game, and then De’ Hall comes in and makes a big-time interception.”

Robert Thullen, filling in for the injured Dominic Aliano, was 6 of 6 on extra points and made his only field-goal attempt, and Hall’s 33-yard interception return for a touchdown helped Whitworth defeat La Verne 45-20 last week.

“We talk about having each other’s backs,” Tully said. “In our first game the offense, defense and special teams were right on. It was special teams and offense against Whittier and last week was maybe more special teams and defense, but I have to credit the offense for not turning the ball over because that helps, too.”

Junior linebacker Ryan Loutsis (knee), junior offensive lineman Greg Vibbert (broken leg) and senior safety Fernando Noriega (broken ankle) are out. All three are eligible for a medical redshirt year.

Chapman, which beat Whitworth 16-14 last year, rolled up 615 yards and crushed Puget Sound 55-35 in its season opener two weeks ago. New starting quarterback Kean Stancil completed 19 of 20 first-half passes and finished with 339 yards passing. Kali’i Kunitomo had eight catches for 152 yards and Jeremiah McKibbins rushed for 154 yards.

The Panthers are coming off a bye, one of four Whitworth opponents that will have an extra week to prepare before facing the Pirates.

“They have most of their offensive line back and it starts there,” Tully said. “You put up that many yards you’re doing a lot of things correctly. They have eight starters back on defense and I thought they were good last year.”

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