SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth defense never let visiting St. Scholastica get untracked offensively, leading to a 36-7 season-opening victory for the Pirates on Saturday afternoon at the Pine Bowl.
Led by De' Hall's two interceptions and solid tackling across the front seven, Whitworth's defense held the Saints to 200 yards of total offense and set up the Pirate offense in good field position all game long.
After Whitworth was held on downs deep in CSS territory on its first possession, Sean McNeally set up the Bucs deep in the Saints' half of the field again when he returned an interception 21 yards to the CSS 29. Whitworth scored six plays later on Griffin Hare's six yard run.
Hall, who led the Pirates in interceptions last season with four, picked off his first pass of the game on the next CSS series, setting Whitworth up at the Saint's 14 yard line. It took one play for DJ Tripoli to run into the endzone for a 14-0 Whitworth lead in the first quarter.
Tripoli carried in from one yard out early in the second quarter for a 20-0 Whitworth lead after the extra point went wide. That play finished off Whitworth's first extended scoring drive of the game – 68 yards in 10 plays.
The Pirates finished the half by executing a picture-perfect two-minute drill. Junior QB Bryan Peterson drove the offense 90 yards in nine plays, completing passes of 12 and 27 yards to Kekoa Turbeville along the way. On third down he hit Devon Lind, who made an acrobatic catch back across his body, from 16 yards out with 10 seconds to play.
The 27-0 halftime score was reflected in the stats as Whitworth outgained St. Scholastica 289-58 over the first two quarters.
Neither team scored in the third quarter as the Saints defense turned the Pirates away on two occasions deep in CSS territory. The first time was on downs at the 31 yard line and the second came after a missed 40-yard field goal.
Early in the fourth quarter Hall picked off his second pass of the game and appeared to return it 47 yards for a touchdown. But that TD return was called back by a holding penalty. Peterson wasted little time, however, hitting Lind for a 33-yard gain and Tripoli scored his third touchdown of the game three plays later from one yard away.
St. Scholastica got on the scoreboard with just under five minutes to play in the game. Backup QB Ian Papenheim hit Cory Gebhard from 19 yards out, capping a 64-yard possession.
The Pirates' defense got the final points of the game on a safety when backup linebacker Neil Wagner sacked Papenheim in the endzone with 2:04 to play.
Grant Livingston led the Pirate defense with seven tackles, while Jarrell Norman, Fernando Noriega and Trevor Cooper had five stops each.
Peterson completed 15 of 24 passes for 259 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Michael McCune, who played most of the fourth quarter as the Pirates' QB, was 1-6 for 13 yards. Lind caught six passes for 113 yards and a score. Drew Clausen added three catches for 63 yards.
Tripoli led the rushing game with 75 yards on 14 attempts with three touchdowns. Hare, a freshman, totaled 48 yards on 11 carries and the first TD of his career.
Tyler Harper, the starting QB for St. Scholastica, completed 14 of 24 passes for 72 yards with three interceptions. Papenheim finished 4-7 for 53 yards and a touchdown. Gebhard was the Saints' leading receiver with five grabs for 55 yards. Nick Murphy added four receptions for 21 yards.
Jake Jensen carried 13 times for 34 yards as Whitworth bottled up the CSS running game throughout the day. Chris Gassert added 25 yards on seven attempts.
Alex French led the Saints' defense with 10 tackles, which Tyler Zurn was in on two sacks for 15 yards.
Whitworth finished the game with a 407-200 edge in total offense and a 4-1 advantage in turnovers.
The Pirates will host Whittier College next weekend in the second of three straight home games. CSS returns to Duluth to open its UMAC schedule against Iowa Wesleyan.