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Whitworth routs Central Iowa in season opener

UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 2, 2017, 5:01 p.m.

PELLA, Iowa – When Central Iowa nipped Whitworth in overtime to start the 2016 season, it ultimately cost the Pirates a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

The rematch Saturday – a 1,500-mile trek from Spokane – wasn’t nearly as close.

Ian Kolste completed 37 of his 47 passes for 473 yards and six touchdowns to help Whitworth rout Central Iowa 56-13 in a season opener at Schipper Stadium.

Whitworth (1-0), which jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead, held the Dutch (0-1) to just 161 passing and 185 yards on the ground.

Five Pirates receivers hauled in a touchdown pass, a group paced by Kevin Thomas’ 10 receptions, 142 yards and three touchdown receptions. Garrett McKay tallied nine receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Kolste, a preseason All-American, sat out a good portion of the second half after Whitworth established a comfortable lead. His backup, Leif Ericksen, completed 11 of his 16 throws for 88 yards and a score.

Twelve receivers accounted for at least one reception for Whitworth, which totaled 630 yards of offense.

Conversely, Central Iowa’s Sam Markham, who led NCAA Division III in receptions per game in 2016 (10.5), was held to just five catches for 50 yards.

Whitworth forced just one turnover, an interception by defensive back LJ Benson, a Central Valley grad.

Central Iowa’s secondary struggled, but its run defense held the Pirates to just 69 yards on 35 carries Central Iowa, picked fourth in its preseason conference poll, beat Whitworth 50-49 in Spokane last season a two-point conversion in overtime.

Whitworth entertains La Verne (Calif.) Sept. 9 at the Pine Bowl, where it will it debut its new turf field.