By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University and University of Puget Sound combined for 1,097 yards of total offense in their Northwest Conference football game at McCulloch Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27. The Loggers built a 21-6 lead and kept fending off the Bearcats. In the end, Puget Sound outscored Willamettte, 42-28. The Loggers gained 585 yards on 92 plays and the Bearcats finished with 512 yards on 89 plays.
The Loggers improved to 5-3 on the season, 3-2 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette fell to 1-6 overall, 0-5 in the NWC.
For Willamette, quarterback Mathew Castaneda (Jr., Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) threw for a career-high 390 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 26 of 60 passes. His 60 passing attempts set a Willamette record, breaking the mark of 58 passes thrown by current WU Linebackers Coach John Horner ('94, MAT '95) against Lewis & Clark College on Oct. 31, 1992.
Jeremiah James (Gr./Sr., WR, Salem, OR/South Salem HS/Chemeketa CC) gained a career-high 159 receiving yards as he caught a career-high nine passes. James scored two touchdowns during the game on catches of 22 yards and 55 yards. Michael Hamp (WR, Rocklin, CA/Whitney HS) achieved the first 100-yard day of his freshman season as he caught seven passes for 106 yards.
Matt Stone (Sr., RB, Brainbrige Island, WA/Bainbridge HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) rushed for 57 yards on five carries. Willamette gained a total of 122 rushing yards on 29 attempts.
"We had a few players with big efforts today and on offesne we had some wide receivers with some big numbers," Willamette Head Coach Glen Fowles recalled. "On defense, I thought our line put pressure on the quarterback and I thought Kendrick Pearson (Sr., Pebble Beach, CA/Robert L. Stevenson HS) made a few big plays at the defensive back position.
Quarterback Murdock Rutledge of Puget Sound was 32 of 60 passing for 478 yards and four scores. The Bearcats sacked Rutledge three times and intercepted two passes. Alvin Johnson led the Loggers with a game-high 11 catches for 147 yards. Jewell Day hauled in six passes for 144 yards and Collin Heimback made five catches for 110 yards. Duncan Varela topped Puget Sound with 75 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The Loggers were in front 21-12 at halftime and scored first in the second half for a 28-12 lead. Willamette cut the margin to 28-20 with 5:44 left in the third quarter when Castaneda hit James on a 22-yard touchdown toss, and then threw to Hamp for a two-point conversion.
Puget Sound responded with a 9-play, 66-yard drive, but the Bearcats kept the Loggers from scoring by forcing an incomplete pass on 4th-and-8 at the WU 10-yard line. The Bearcats had to punt four plays later, a 39-yarder by Sam Adams (So., LB/P, Sacramento, CA/Rio Americano HS). Puget Souind took over at the WU 48 following a 12-yard return by Michael Zabran. On the first play, Rutledge threw a pass to Johnson that resulted in a 48-yard touchdown with 1:03 in the third quarter. After the extra point kick by Alex Everett, the Loggers held a 35-20 advantage.
On Willamette's second possession after Johnson's touchdown, the Bearcats went from the WU 12-yard line to the end zone in four plays.
The second play of the drive was a 30-yard pass from Castaneda to Hamp. Then James hauled in a 13-yard pass. After an offensive holding penalty, Castaneda connected with James on a 55-yard touchdown. Ty Benny (Jr., WR, St. Louis Park, MN/St. Louis Park HS) caught a two-point conversion pass from Castaneda, as the Bearcats pulled within 35-28 at the 10:17 mark of the final quarter.
The Loggers scored to regain a two-score lead. Willamette had a chance to stop the drive on 3rd-and-8 at the WU 38, but Rutledge completed a 13-yard pass to Matt Marengo to keep the drive going. Varela ran 25-yards to the end zone two plays later for the game's final touchdown with 7:15 to go. Everett converted the extra point.
Willamette drove from the WU 34 to the Puget Sound 48 after the kickoff, but Castaneda threw his fourth interception of the game on the next play. Keanu Songcuan picked off the ball at the Loggers' 35 and returned it 10 yards with 5:22 left.
The offensive success of both teams led to the Loggers averaging 6.4 yards per play and the Bearcats gaining 5.8 yards per play. The teams also piled up penalties, as Puget Sound had 11 infractions for 90 yards and WU was credited with eight penalties for 68 yards. The game featured seven turnovers, four by Willamette and three by Puget Sound.
Albert Ramon (Fr., DB, Hesperia, CA/Northview HS) and Tommy MacDevitt (Jr., LB, Santa Clara, CA/Saint Francis HS) led WU's defense with six tackles apiece. Keaton Adams (Fr., LB, Colorado Springs, CO/Doherty HS) registered two quarterback sacks, while Jared Bothel (So., DL, Elmira, OR/Elmira HS) had one-half of a sack on his way to 2.0 tackles for loss. Pearson intercepted a pass and broke up four passes, while Andrew Rodriguez (Jr., DB, Santa Clara, CA/Wilcox HS) grabbed one interception to go with two pass break-ups.
Songcuan had two interceptions for Puget Sound. He also recorded a game-high eight tackles. Brody Pearman intercepted one pass and provided five pass break-ups.
Willamette will travel to Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, next weekend to take on the Boxers. Game time on Saturday, Nov. 3 is set for 1 p.m. (PDT).
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
Mathew Castaneda was involved in last week's Big
Moment for Jeremiah James, as he threw the 80-yard
touchdown pass that earned James the honor. This
week, the Big Moment goes to Castaneda on another long
pass to James. On this week's play, Castaneda stood firm
in the pocket as two Puget Sound defenders brought pressure.
Castaneda then threw a lofted spiral that went over a defensive
back and into James' arms near the sideline. James raced to
the end zone to complete the 55-yard play.