LA VERNE, Calif. – Duke DeGaetano's two-yard run with 23 seconds to play lifted visiting Whitworth to a 48-42 win at La Verne that capped a see-saw non-conference battle.
The Pirates (2-1) led by 11 points twice in the first half, but fell behind by ten points in the third quarter before outscoring the Leopards (0-2) 17-0 over the final 17 minutes of the game.
La Verne (0-2), defending champions of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference, ran for 502 yards and finished with 658 yards of total offense. Whitworth passed for 502 yards and finished with 641 yards of offense.
Whitworth led 11-0 after Riley Ramos returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown and Jonah Koski ran in a two-point conversion. The Pirates still led 18-7 before La Verne, led by QB Josh Evans, rallied to take a 21-18 lead. Whitworth retook a 32-21 lead in the second quarter, including a 43-yard TD run by Duke DeGaetano.
But ULV scored with 16 seconds to play in the half to pull within 32-28 at halftime. After getting the opening kickoff of the second half, the Leopards scored twice to take a 42-32 lead with 2:53 left in the third quarter.
Reiley's second field goal of the game pulled Whitworth within 42-35 at the end of the third. The defenses finally showed up in the fourth quarter. The teams traded possessions six times, including a exchange of lost fumbles, before Ian Kolste found Garrett McKay on a 44-yard TD pass to tie the game 42-42 with 6:02 to play.
The Whitworth defense forced one more punt to give the Pirates the ball back on their own 26 yard line with 1:42 to play. Kolste drove the offense 74 yards in seven plays, setting up the winning touchdown with a 35-yard pass to McKay and a 17-yard run to the ULV two-yard line. DeGaetano scored on the next play.
Evans completed two passes on the final Leopard possession, but ULV was only able to advance to its own 42 yard line as time expired.
Kolste completed 40 of 59 passes for 502 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran 10 times for 50 yards. DeGaetano ran 14 times for 87 yards and two scores. Chase Naccarato caught 15 of Kolste's passes for 138 yards. McKay finished with seven receptions for 139 yards and two scores. Kevin Thomas also caught a touchdown pass.
Evans accounted for 395 yards of offense. He ran for 239 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. He completed 14 of 26 passes for 156 yards with two TDs and one interception. Evens wasn't even La Verne's leading rusher. Dallas Parent carried 32 times for 244 yards and a score. Alex Arellano caught five passes for 68 yards and one touchdown.
La Verne averaged 8.1 yards per play while Whitworth averaged 7.5 yards per play.
But after giving up La Verne's sixth touchdown of the game, the Whitworth defense limited the Leopards to three punts, and a lost fumble the rest of the way. ULV had 64 yards of offense over its final five possessions. Luke Peterson was credited with 16 tackles to lead the Pirate defense.
Whitworth heads into a bye before opening Northwest Conference play on October 1st at George Fox University.