Heading back down to Calif., the Pirates engaged in an offensive shootout last Saturday against the La Verne Leopards. The game ended in a hard-fought fourth quarter featuring a game-winning catch by junior Anthony Fullman and a 50-48 Pirate win. After the second game of the 2014 season, the Pirates decided to go with senior quarterback Bryan Peterson as the starter after sophomore quarterback Ian Kolste played most of the snaps in the first two games.
Peterson and the Whitworth offense came alive scoring 50 points with 651 total yards of offense. Peterson completed 59 of his 83 passing attempts to rack up a colossal 589 passing yards, while setting NCAA single-game records for most completions and consecutive passes without an interception. He also broke the school record for Whitworth passing yardage, completions and attempts in a single game. The Whitworth offense had a considerable amount of big plays throughout the game that led to their success.
“They were cautious against the big play,” Peterson said. “We had to get the ball out quick to our receivers. Once they started to get sucked in on the short passes, it opened up the deep ball.”
The Whitworth receiving core demonstrated plenty of depth with five different players scoring touchdowns. Freshman wide receiver Nick Kiourkas led the team in receiving yards with eight catches for 117 yards and one touchdown.
“Nick has been continuing to grow, getting bigger and stronger each year,” Offensive Coordinator Alan Stanfield said. “He is a big target so we look to throw the ball to him over the middle.”
The game remained close going into the fourth quarter. With 1:44 left in the game, the Pirates were down 48-44. Starting at their own 38-yard line, Whitworth was able to move the ball deep into the La Verne territory after converting some key third and fourth down conversions. With 34 seconds left in the game, Whitworth found themselves with a third and goal situation.
Off of a miraculous jump ball pass in the front left corner of the end zone, Peterson completed his pass to Fullman for a Whitworth score and lead. After missing the extra point, the score was 50-48.
“Peterson, our quarterback, and I already have a good connection so we just played toss and catch during that play. The defense was out of position and I was able to go up there and make the play,” Fullman said.
Fullman, who was injured throughout last season, made a gametime decision to play on Saturday against La Verne after taking a few hits last game against Whittier. Fullman is off to a strong start this season, scoring a team high of five touchdowns including the two scores against La Verne.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, the Pirates kicked the ball off and allowed a 38-yard return. Playing inspired defense, Whitworth was able to break up a Hail Mary pass with three seconds left in the game.
After a stellar offensive performance by the Pirates, there is still room for improvement according to Stanfield.
“We are still new in this offense. This was only our third game,” Stanfield said. “Every week we can get better by just doing the little things right like continuing to play faster. Each week we have had more plays because we are becoming more and more comfortable with a high tempo offense.”
The Pirates are 3-0 this season and play at home against the Panthers of Chapman University on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m.