By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
BURNABY, B.C., Canada -- Simon Fraser University scored 21 points in the first quarter and went on to down visiting Willamette University, 54-7, in the season opener for both teams on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Terry Fox Field. Simon Fraser (1-0) competes in NCAA Division II and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Willamette is a member of NCAA Division III and the Northwest Conference.
Quarterback Mathew Castaneda (Jr., QB, Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) scored Willamette's only touchdown on a 1-yard run to complete a 13-play, 96-yard drive with 2:37 left in the third quarter. KayLyn Stirton (Sr./So., PK, Cottonwood, CA/West Valley HS) kicked the extra point.
The game was the Bearcats' fourth all-time in Burnaby, British Columbia. The first three games were against Simon Fraser in 1990, 1991 and 1993. Overall the Bearcats have played Simon Fraser seven times (1989-94, 2018). Willamette leads the series, 4-3.
WU also has played 10 games against the University of British Columbia (1946-48, 1960-63, 1967-69), but it is not clear which games were played in Salem and which were played in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Clan built its 21-0 lead in the opening stanza by driving 89 yards on its first possession and then taking advantage of two turnovers by Willamette.
SFU's lengthy drive began at its own 11-yard line after the Clan had to stop Willamette twice on the game's opening possession due to a roughing the kicker penalty. The drive by Simon Fraser included two sizable passes by quarterback Miles Richardson, a 38-yarder to Devin O'Hea and a 19-yarder to Kester Iwunze. Jason Nelson crossed the goal line on a 1-yard run on the 15th play of the drive with 5:26 left in the quarter. Kees Metselaar kicked the extra point.
Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, on 1st-and-10 at the SFU 45-yard line, Castaneda was intercepted by Jaryn Bailey at the SFU 40. Bailey returned the interception 60 yards for a touchdown, giving the Clan a 14-0 lead.
On the third play of WU's next possession, Brendan Lowry intercepted a Castaneda pass at the WU 45 and returned it seven yards. Richardson connected with Ryson John for a 38-yard touchdown pass on the first play. Metselaar kicked the PAT.
Four plays after the kickoff, Willamette committed its third turnover of the game on a bad snap on a punt. The ball was recovered at the Willamette 7-yard line by Luca Bellini of SFU. Nelson carried the ball on four consecutive downs. He scored on fourth down from the 1-yard line just four seconds into the second quarter, giving SFU a 28-0 advantage.
Willamette almost shut out the Clan over the remainder of the second quarter, but a fumble by the Bearcats with 37 seconds left proved costly. Kolny Buljevic forced the fumble after a 2-yard pass completion and Shane Ward made the recovery for SFU at the Willamette 43-yard line. A 15-yard pass interference penalty on a play in the end zone gave the Clan a first down. Richardson then passed 28 yards to Robert Meadors for a touchdown. SFU led 35-0 at halftime, with 28 points off turnovers.
The Bearcats eliminated turnovers in the second half, but SFU managed to add three touchdowns over the final 30 minutes. Castaneda finished the game 14 of 28 passing for 149 yards and the two first-half interceptions. He also ran 10 times 30 yards.
Simon Fraser scored first in the second half on a 5-yard pass from Richardson to Ethan Beselt. Metselaar missed the extra point, but the following kickoff went 61 yards and forced the Bearcats to start at their own 4-yard line. Castaneda's touchdown at the end of the drive pulled WU within 41-7.
Willamette's lengthy touchdown march featured a 27-yard run by Castaneda on 3rd-and-10 at the WU 4, plus two key grabs by Ben Verhoeven (Jr., WR/P, Redlands, CA/Redlands HS). The first catch covered 37 yards on 3rd-and-1 at the WU 40, which moved the ball to the SFU 23. Then on 4th-and-1 at the SFU 14, Verhoeven hauled in a 9-yard pass for 1st-and-goal. Castaneda scored from the 1-yard line on third down.
The Clan scored on the final play of the third quarter on a 10-yard pass from Justin Seiber to O'Hea. A 5-yard touchdown run by Nicholas Grossi with 5:17 left in the game completed the scoring. Metselaar converted the extra point after the touchdown by O'Hea, but his attempt was blocked by Luther Jessie (Jr., DL, Oakland, CA/St. Mary's College HS) following Grossi's touchdown.
Simon Fraser outgained Willamette 379-174 in total offense and limited the Bearcats to 12 rushing yards on 30 carries. The Clan rushed 43 times for 111 yards. Richardson was 12 of 17 passing for 180 yards and three scores. Beselt hauled in seven catches for 85 yards. O'Hea caught four passes for 60 yards. Nelson ran 21 times for 66 yards and two scores.
Zach Eutsey (Fr., TE, Lincoln, CA/Lincoln HS) led Willamette with four pass receptions. He gained 30 yards. Verhoeven grabbed three passes for 52 yards and Jeremiah James (Gr./Sr., WR, Salem, OR/South Salem HS/Chemeketa CC) caught three passes for 39 yards.
Jackson Lewis (Sr., LB, Yakima, WA/A.C. Davis HS), who missed all but two games last year due to injury, returned to the lineup and led the Bearcats with 10 tackles. He registered eight solo tackles and two assisted stops. Alec Stevenson (Jr., LB, Malibu, CA/Calabasas HS), who ranked second in the NWC with 99 tackles last season, earned nine tackles against SFU. Stevenson, Teddy Rose (Jr., DL, Atascadero, CA/Atascadero HS) and Maxamillian Pichardo (Jr., DL, Menifee, CA/Paloma Valley HS) each registered one quarterback sack.
Defensive leaders for the Clan were Ward and Buljevic. Ward achieved seven total tackles, with 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack. He also recovered a fumble. Buljevic added six tackles with 2.0 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
After an open date next weekend, the Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 15 against Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. The game is part of the NWC-SCIAC Challenge, with kickoff set for 12 p.m. (PDT). The Challenge will pit Northwest Conference teams against teams from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.