Oct 04, 2017

Game Preview: Bruins Hit The Road To Face No. 22 Whitworth

A Winning Tradition

 
  • One post-season appearance (1960 Crusader Bowl)
  • 20 All-NWC Athletes 
  • 6 NWC Student-Athlete of the Week Awards 
  • 2 D3Football.com Team of the Week (Justin Leatherman, 2014; Lenana Meekisho, 2015)
  • 1 D3Football.com All-West Region Team (Nolan Schuler, 2016)
  • 2 NSCA All-American (Justin Kruse, 2015; Dane Jensen, 2017)
  • 2 NFL Draft Picks 
 

By: Alex Plusquellec

NEWBERG, Ore. -- For the first time since early September, the George Fox football team will hit the road Saturday, Oct. 7, looking to extend a three-game win streak as it takes on another top-25 opponent in No. 22 Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington.

For Coach Chris Casey, the game brings another opportunity to accomplish a first-time feat—he has the Bruins at 3-1 for the first time in his tenure, which includes a Sept. 16 victory over the University of Redlands, a top-25-ranked team at the time. Last week's 27-7 victory over Pacific University marked the first time since the program's relaunch in 2014 that George Fox won its conference opener. 

On Saturday, the Bruins will attempt to beat Whitworth (3-1, 0-1 NWC) for the first time since the program was reinstated. The clash will feature the conference's top-scoring offense in Whitworth against the Bruins' proven defense.

The Pirates' high-powered offense (a NWC-best 41.8 points per game) is led by senior quarterback Ian Kolste, who threw for 3,790 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2016. The Hero Sports DIII Preseason All-American is 20-5 as a starter and leads the NWC with 323.8 passing yards per game to go with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Nine different receivers have caught a touchdown pass from Kolste this season. 

Meanwhile, the Bruins defense, led by Charles Riga, has been dominant this season. The Bruins gave up just two touchdowns during their current three game win-streak and an average of just 11.8 points per game, the best in the conference. They have also forced eight turnovers so far this season.

The Bruins' key to success against the Pirates will be getting the Pirates' potent offense off the field on third down. Whitworth has been stellar at extending drives, converting on 52 percent of its third-down opportunities. The Bruins have been effective in getting opposing offenses off the field on third down by allowing teams to convert just 38 percent of their attempts. 

Keeping Kolste and the Pirates' offense on the sideline will allow the George Fox offense to test a Whitworth defense that is giving up 311 yards per game. Grant Schroeder and the offense are averaging 28 points per game, nearly twice as much as Whitworth allows. Through the first three weeks, the Pirates outscored their opponents 158-13 before falling last week to then-No. 9 Linfield, 38-9. Senior linebacker Patch Kulp leads the Pirates with 6.5 tackles per game, while fellow senior defensive back LJ Benson has two interceptions and four pass breakups through the first four games. 

The Bruins and Pirates kick off at 1:05 p.m., as both teams look to state their cases as top contenders in the Northwest Conference.