By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Joey Thurman (Sr., RB, Carson City, NV/Carson HS/Yuba College) rushed 17 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns for Willamette University, but Whitworth University defeated the Bearcats, 57-24, at the Whitworth Pine Bowl on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Whitworth improved to 8-2 on the season, 5-2 in the NWC. Willamette finished the season at 0-9 overall and 0-7 in the Northwest Conference.
The Pirates scored first at the end of an 11-play, 46-yard drive with 8:12 left in the first quarter. A two-point conversion pass from Kevin Thomas to Michael McKeown gave Whitworth an 8-0 lead.
Whitworth threatened to score earlier in the opening quarter. The Pirates had 4th-and-8 at the Willamette 20-yard line when place-kicker Rehn Reiley was intercepted by Andrew Rodriguez (So., DB, Santa Clara, CA/Wilcox HS) at the goal line. Rodriguez returned the interception 10 yards.
The Bearcats scored a touchdown with 4:19 remaining in the opening quarter. The drive lasted eight plays and covered 74 yards. Key plays on the drive were a 16-yard run by Anthony Sammut (Jr., WR, Gilroy, CA/Christopher HS) and a 23-yard run by Thurman.
WU's touchdown was scored by Jeremiah James (Sr./Jr., WR, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) on a 6-yard pass from Mathew Castaneda (So., QB, Salinas, CA/Salinas HS). The extra point kick by KayLyn Stirton (Jr./Fr., PK, Cottonwood, CA/West Valley HS) was blocked. The Pirates led 8-6.
Whitworth added a second touchdown with 1:13 to go in the quarter. Chase Takaki registered the score by hauling in a 3-yard pass from Ian Kolste. Reiley kicked the extra point for a 15-6 lead.
The second quarter belonged to the Pirates, who scored 28 points to take command of the game. The first score and the third score of the quarter followed interceptions on Willamette's half of the field.
The first score was set-up after an interception by Jack McLeod at the Bearcats' 19-yard. McLeod returned the ball 12 yards. On the next play, Kolste hit Mason Elms with a 7-yard touchdown pass.
On Whitworth's next possession, Bailey Wyatt (So. ILB, Seattle, WA/West Seattle HS) forced a fumble by Elms following a 1-yard pass completion at the Pirates' 15. Rodriguez recovered the ball for the Bearcats at the 16-yard line.
Willamette was unable to move the ball, and the Pirates took over at their own 22. Seven plays later McKeown scored on a 35-yard pass from Kolste with 4:19 left in the half.
On the first play after the kickoff, Castaneda was intercepted by Connor Tangeman at the Willamette 31-yard line. Thomas hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
The Pirates' final score of the half completed a 64-yard drive on five plays. Kolste threw a 15-yard pass to Thomas and a 22-yard pass to McKeown, before connecting with Takaki on a 27-yard scoring strike with 32 seconds on the clock. The Pirates held a 43-6 lead at the break.
Willamette outscored Whitworth 18-7 in the third quarter and 18-14 during the second half. The third quarter began with the Bearcats moving the ball 75 yards on seven plays. Thurman scored his first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run to end the drive with 11:30 left in the quarter.
Thurman tacked on a 23-yard touchdown run at the 7:52 mark. Casey Bond crossed the goal line for the Pirates on a 5-yard run with 4:23 left in the quarter. Thurman finished off another long drive for the Bearcats with a 4-yard touchdown scamper with 29 seconds to go in the quarter. The drive covered 75 yards on nine plays.
Cody Hand of Whitworth scored the game's final touchdown with 8:08 left in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard pass from Jared Oliver.
Whitworth gained 483 total yards, with 347 yards through the air and 136 yards on the ground. Willamette finished with 414 offensive yards, including 224 passing yards and 190 rushing yards.
Thurman's 128 rushing yards an 7.5 yards per rush led all players. Castaneda rushed for 54 yards on 13 carries.
In addition, Castaneda completed 19 of 31 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Kevin Martz (Sr., WR, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) grabbed five passes for 58 yards. James caught 4 passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Thurman hauled in four passes for 31 yards.
Kolste connected on 20 of 29 passes for the Pirates. He threw for 264 yards and five touchdowns. McKeown led Whitworth with six catches for 120 yards and one score. Thomas earned four receptions for 67 yards and one touchdown.
Alec Stevenson (So., ILB, Malibu, CA/Calabasas HS) of Willamette led all players with 13 total tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. Mikael Ruffin (Sr., ILB, Puyallup, WA/Rogers HS) contributed nine tackles. Terae Jones (So., DB, Seattle, WA/O'Dea HS) made eight tackles and broke up two passes. Rodriguez recorded five tackles to go with his interception and fumble recovery. The Bearcats earned seven tackles for loss.
Manuel Jarin topped the defensive chart for the Pirates with 10 total tackles, including six unassisted tackles. He also recovered a fumble and broke up a pass. John-Robert Woolley provided eight tackles.