By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Obed Eriza kicked a 33-yard field goal for Lewis & Clark College on the game's final play, sending the Pioneers past Willamette University, 24-21, in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Oct. 29. Willamette battled back from seven-point deficits three times, including a 40-yard catch and run by Joey Thurman (Sr., RB, Carson City, NV/Carson HS) with 2:17 left to tie the score at 21-21.
Willamette quarterback Mathew Castaneda (So., QB, Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) completed 25 of 42 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown. Castaneda added 140 rushing yards on 11 carries, including an 83-yard scamper that tied the game at 7-7 with 8:59 left in the third quarter.
Lewis & Clark forced three turnovers during the game on two interceptions and a fumble recovery. The Pioneers also benefited from a bad snap on a punt by the Bearcats that Willamette recovered at its own 9-yard line. L&C defeated the Bearcats for the first time since a 33-30 win in 2000.
On Saturday, the Pioneers did not commit a turnover. L&C improved to 2-1 on the season, 1-0 in the NWC. The Bearcats moved to 0-3 overall, 0-1 in the NWC.
Willamette gained 441 yards of total offense, while Lewis & Clark finished with 343 yards. The Bearcats achieved 21 first downs compared to 16 first downs for the Pioneers. WU gained 237 yards through the air and 204 yards on the ground.
All three of Willamette's turnovers were in L&C territory, including an interception at the 5-yard line with only seconds remaining in the first half. Ramonn Canales of L&C recovered a fumble at the Pioneers' 41-yard line early in the second half and Makana LaBoy of L&C intercepted a pass at his own goal line with 12:29 left in the game.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, as just one drive crossed the midfield stripe. Willamette went on an 11-play, 50-yard drive that reached the L&C 27, but a false start penalty left WU with 4th-and-7. Castaneda's pass to Thurman was stopped for a 1-yard loss with 2:36 on the clock.
The Bearcats reached the L&C 35-yard line early in the second period, but two consecutive incomplete passes ended the drive on downs. An 18-yard pass from Sawyer May to Eric Hawkins on the next play, advanced the Pioneers to the WU 47. They eventually reached the 32-yard line, but May threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-6.
L&C kept the ball for 12 plays and drove 67 yards on their next possession to take a 7-0 lead. The only play longer than six yards on the drive was 22-yard run by Michael Abraham from the WU 40 to the 18-yard line. On 3rd-and-2 at the 10-yard line, Abraham rushed for three yards. Heisman Hosoda scored a touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 0:56 left in the half.
A 42-yard kickoff return by Jeremiah James (Sr./Jr., WR, Salem, OR/South Salem HS/Chemeketa CC) set Willamette up with a change to score. Five completions by Castaneda, including a 12-yarder to Alex Israel (Sr., WR, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS), a 9-yarder to Kevin Martz (Sr., WR, Salem, OR/South Salem HS/Claremont McKenna College) and a 14-yarder to Martz, brought the ball to the L&C 7. Castaneda's next pass was intercepted by Remington Campbell at the 5-yard line and returned 37 yards.
Willamette's tying drive in the third quarter lasted just three plays, but covered 98 yards after Thor Retzlaff's punt for L&C left the Bearcats at their own 2-yard line. Jordan Fickas (Sr., WR, Gilbert, AZ/Campo Verde HS) hauled in a 15-yard pass from Castaneda to star the drive. After an incompletion, Castaneda followed with an 83-yard touchdown run. It was the longest run by a Willamette quarterback in recent memory. Benjamin Jahn (Sr./Jr., DL, Juneau, AK/Thunder Mountain HS) kicked the extra point.
The Pioneers moved the ball from their own 33 to the Willamette 23 after the kickoff, but the Bearcats limited Abaham to just three yards on a pass reception on 4th-and-5. Willamette's bad punt snap occurred several plays later. Lewis & Clark took over at the WU 9-yard line and scored on the third play, when May kept the ball for a 2-yard run into the end zone. Eriza kicked the extra point to give L&C a 14-7 edge.
Although Willamette's second interception stopped the Bearcats deep in L&C territory with 12:29 to go, it left the Pioneers with poor field position. Four plays later, Jake La Grand punted for 31 yards and James made a fair catch at the Pioneer's 44-yard line. A late hit on the fair catch advanced the ball to the L&C 29. Fickas threw a wide receiver pass to Castaneda on first down, as the Bearcats moved 17 yards closer to the end zone. Matt Stone (Jr., RB, Brainbrige Island, WA/Bainbridge HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) scored on 3rd-and-goal from 1-yard out with 9:09 on the clock.
On the first play following the kickoff, May threw a 60-yard pass to Hosoda for a touchdown. After Eriza kicked the PAT, the Pioneers owned a 21-14 lead.
The Bearcats equalized with 2:17 left in the game at the end of a 7-play, 55-yard drive. Castaneda picked up a key first down on 4th-and-3, when his pass to Fickas gained four yards to the L&C 48. A bit later in the drive, Castaneda threw a screen pass to Thurman to avoided a tackle near the line of scrimmage, received two solid blocks after elduign the defender, and dashed 40-yard to the end zone. Jahn's extra point kick created a 21-21 tie.
There were three more possessions in the game, as both teams threw the ball in hopes of breaking the tie. L&C's game-winning drive began at its own 42. May was almost intercepted on the fourth play of the drive, but the defender was unable to control the ball. Two plays later, on 4th-and-1 at the WU 37, May rushed for 12 yards. He then hit Gage Bumgardner with a 9-yard pass to the WU 16. Wilamette called a timeout, but Eriza kicked the winning 33-yard field goal when play resumed.
May was 18 of 28 passing for 197 yards and one touchdown for Lewis & Clark. Hosoda caught five passes for 98 yards.
Fickas hauled in seven passes for 55 yards for the Bearcats. Martz grabbed five passes for 51 yards and Israel caught five passes for 39 yards.
Alec Stevenson (So., ILB, Malibu, CA/Calabasas HS) led Willamette's defense with 14 total tackles, including one-half sack. Jahn recorded 10 solo tackles and 13 total tackles, while earning 1.5 quarterback sacks on is way to 6.0 tackles for loss. LaBoy topped the Lewis & Clark defensive chart with eight tackles -- all unassisted. James Tostada and Tawayne Malone each recorded seven tckles.