A week after Whitworth’s football team downed the Pacific Boxers 30-20 in Forest Grove, Oregon, the Pirates will make a U-turn back to Oregon on Saturday to face the Lewis & Clark Pioneers in their final road game of the season.
Right back into the driver’s seat is quarterback Ian Kolste. The fifth-year senior, who is still recovering from a sprained ankle suffered on the field last month, has been forced to limit his movement in the backfield in fear that any quick runs could tweak his ankle again.
Recent opponents have been quick to take advantage of Kolste’s limitations and have nearly doubled the pressure on him.
“They know he’s kind of a limping warrior back there, so they really get after him,” Whitworth coach Rod Sandberg said.
Sandberg said Kolste has been told to move the ball quickly, preferably through the air.
Last weekend against Pacific, Kolste stuck to the passing game. He completed 29 of 43 passes for 233 yards and didn’t run once.
“He’s just kind of stuck back there,” Sandberg said. “He’s a pretty good passer, but he’s also an incredible scrambler and (good at) extending plays, and that just can’t happen right now.”
The Pirates will also face some adversity on the defensive side on Saturday.
Whitworth (6-2, 3-2 Northwest Conference) is down four starters on defense, including sophomore lineman Thomas Wilkie, who has been sidelined after breaking his hand last month.
Following a few injuries in last weekend’s showing, Sandberg also lost sophomore linebacker Kale Wong (thumb), junior free safety Ben Stockdale (hamstring) and senior defensive back LJ Benson.
Wilkie, Wong and Benson are out for the remainder of the season. Sandberg said he’s uncertain if Stockdale will be back in time for Whitworth’s season finale on Nov. 11.
Sandberg will fill the holes with a few players who already have experience this season, including senior linebacker Connor Tangeman, who worked as a part-time starter last year.
Lewis & Clark (2-5, 1-4) is still in the middle of rebuilding its program under third-year coach Jay Locey, who was previously an assistant coach at Oregon State.
Lewis & Clark has won two games in a season for the first time since 2012. Their win over Pomona-Pitzer on Sept. 16 snapped a 33-game losing streak dating back to 2013.
The Pioneers’ lone win in conference was over winless Willamette on Sept. 30, ending a 26-game skid in the NWC.
At the front of the young crew is freshman quarterback Sawyer May, who leads an offense that has relied heavily on its passing game. May has completed 51 percent of his passes for 1,096 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Sophomore wide receiver Heisman Hosoda has 28 receptions for 402 yards and three touchdowns. Junior tight end Dallas Garreaud leads the Pioneers with four touchdown receptions.
Freshman Michael Abraham leads the Pioneers with 345 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Lewis & Clark is looking to snap a four-game losing streak this weekend. The Pirates have won the last three matchups.
Whitworth leads the overall series 34-13. The Pirates have won 17 of the last 18 meetings, including last year’s 53-20 victory in Portland.