Having only played two football teams this season, it would perhaps be disingenuous to place this undefeated Whitworth squad in the program’s pantheon.
The last time Whitworth finished a season unbeaten was in 1955, when Jim Lounsberry coached the Pirates to a 9-0 record.
But this year’s Pirates were doing the best with what they were given, and on Saturday they ended their late-winter season with a 56-23 Northwest Conference trouncing of Pacific Lutheran at the Pine Bowl.
In four games, two apiece against Puget Sound and PLU, the Pirates posted four victories – a total that 22 of the previous 65 Whitworth teams failed to reach even with a full schedule. So, there is that.
“We didn’t know if we were gonna play at all for a lot of the offseason,” said receiver Andrew Meredith, one of five Whitworth seniors not planning to return in the fall.
“I was just happy to be able to come out here for even one game, let alone four.”
Three Pirates receivers gained more than 100 yards against the Lutes – all setting career highs in the process – as junior Jaedyn Prewitt became the first Whitworth quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards since his offensive coordinator, Ian Kolste, did so in 2017.
Prewitt finished 23 of 38 for 458 yards and four touchdowns, two each to juniors Ethan Peloquin (106 yards) and Alan Ballew (108), a Post Falls graduate. Meredith caught a team-high nine passes for 137 yards.
Peloquin scored on plays of 53 and 45 yards on back-to-back drives in the first quarter that staked Whitworth to a 14-0 lead.
The first came on a 10-yard slant route after which Peloquin split through the middle of the Lutes’ secondary. The next score – his seventh this season – he caught over a defender at the goal line.
“He’s just open. He’s there every time,” Prewitt said of Peloquin. “He’s a good route runner. We’re on the same page a lot during meetings. We’re both dialed into what’s gonna be open and where he needs to be.”
A 2-yard touchdown run by Logan Kitselman gave Whitworth a 21-0 lead on its next drive, which PLU answered with a 39-yard field goal.
But on Whitworth’s next play from scrimmage, Ballew got a full stride of separation from his defender down the sideline, and Prewitt hit him running for a 66-yard score.
Prewitt and Ballew connected again on Whitworth’s next drive, giving the Pirates five touchdowns on five straight possessions and a 35-3 lead, which they carried into halftime.
The Pirates’ defense swarmed whichever of the five quarterbacks the Lutes (0-4) used and held PLU to 262 yards of offense, including just 21 on its first four drives.
“We’re super young, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” said sophomore end Mason Bertelli, who had one of the Pirates’ four sacks. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back, and getting everyone experience, these four games were huge for us.”
The game ended on a somber note, though. With about 5 minutes left, junior Jacob Hangartner intercepted a pass for the Pirates and took a jarring hit from behind as he backpedaled up the field.
Hangartner remained on the ground for about 15 minutes and was transported by ambulance to a hospital, although coach Rod Sandberg said that it was precautionary and Hangartner was able to move his arms and legs. Hangartner’s parents spoke with him on the field.
The Pirates finished the four-game season with margins of victory of 47, 18, 18 and 33 points. The victory over PLU was Whitworth’s seventh straight.
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