Not even three full games into his senior season, Whitworth quarterback Ian Kolste set two of the school’s all-time passing records.
And not even three quarters into the Pirates’ 53-0 blanking of La Verne (California) on Saturday at the Pine Bowl, Kolste was relaxing on the sidelines as he watched his understudy, Leif Ericksen, direct the offense.
In just a half of work, Kolste completed 29 of his 36 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns, improving his career mark to 8,658 yards and breaking Joel Clark’s mark of 8,513 for the school record.
The preseason All-American also set the school’s career touchdown passes record (75), breaking another record held by Clark (71).
“It’s a pretty cool experience to come out and put points on the board like that,” Kolste said, deflecting attention from his records. “The biggest takeaway today was our offense turning the ball over a couple times in a row, but our defense was able to pick us right up.”
The 20th-ranked Pirates (3-0) racked up 582 yards and posted a shutout against the Leopards (1-1), who beat the Northwest Conference’s Puget Sound 35-25 in their opener.
Whitworth, which has a first-string defense that has yet to yield a touchdown this season, has outscored its opposition 158-23.
The Pirates’ defense limited to the Los Angeles-area team to a paltry 224 yards and picked off quarterback Josh Evans twice.
Also to the delight of head coach Rod Sandberg, a former longtime defensive coordinator, the Leopards totaled just 12 first downs.
“Our defensive coaches have done a phenomenal job with the game plan,” Sandberg said. “(Evans) is a great player and we were really able to contain him.”
La Verne fell behind early, as Kolste hooked up with Garrett McKay and Nick Kiourkas for 5- and 1-yard touchdown passes to start the first quarter.
When Whitworth’s Nick McGill blocked a punt on La Verne’ next possession, the favorable field position helped set up another short Kolste-to-McKay scoring play, giving the Pirates a 22-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter mirrored the first. Soon after Kolste hooked up with Michael McKeown on a 5-yard touchdown, the defense forced a turnover, setting up Tariq Ellis’ 72-yard touchdown scamper.
Whitworth took a 43-0 lead into the locker room and played its reserves throughout the second half.
“You get down early and it begins to snowball a little bit,” La Verne head coach Chris Krich said. “Whitworth got some confidence, and they’re a very confident football team and our guys needed to be a little bit more ready.”
Whitworth concluded its nonconference schedule. It has a bye next week, giving the Pirates two weeks to prepare for a marquee NCAA Division III game at sixth-ranked Linfield on Sept. 30.
The Wildcats haven’t lost to Whitworth since 2007.
“They’re the big dogs in the conference right now,” Kolste said of Linfield. “We know we have to beat them to be Northwest Conference champions. So having the bye week and two weeks to prepare is huge.”