By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Whitworth University, ranked #12 in the D3football.com Top 25 Poll, finished the regular season undefeated at 9-0 after defeating Willamette University, 52-0, on Saturday, Nov. 10 at McCullloch Stadium. The Pirates also improved to 7-0 on their way to winning the Northwest Conference title. Whitworth will received the NWC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Playoffs. Willamette ended the season at 1-8 overall, 0-7 in the NWC.
Willamette quarterbacks Mathew Castaneda (Jr., Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) and Miles Bryant (So., Pasadena, CA/Bishop Alemany HS) shared duties leading the offense during the game. Castaneda was 5 of 12 passing for 36 yards. He also gained 56 yards on six carries, including a 40-yard gain in the first quarter. Bryant completed 9 of 16 passes for 46 yards.
Anthony Sammut (Sr., WR, Gilroy, CA/Christopher HS/Minot St. Univ./Gavilan College) led Willamette's receivers with 52 yards on three pass receptions, including a 28-yard catch. Matt Stone (Sr., RB, Brainbrige Island, WA/Bainbridge HS/Eastern Oregon Univ.) caught three passes for 22 yards. Michael Hamp (Fr., WR, Rocklin, CA/Whitney HS) hauled in four passes for 18 yards, and downed a Willamette punt at the Whitworth 1-yard line late in the first half.
On defense, Alec Stevenson (Jr., LB, Malibu, CA/Calabasas HS) topped the Bearcats with 12 total tackles. Preston Doyle (Fr., LB, Sacramento, CA/Inderkum HS) made nine total tackles, including seven solo stops. Tommy MacDevitt (Jr., LB, Santa Clara, CA/Saint Francis HS) made eight tackles, while Teddy Rose (Jr., DL, Atascadero, CA/Atascadero HS) earned seven tackles, including 1.0 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. Andrew Rodriguez (Jr., DB, Santa Clara, CA/Wilcox HS) broke up three passes.
For Whitworth, starting quarterback Leif Ericksen connected on 13 of 15 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored one touchdown rushing. Back-up Connor Johnson entered the game midway through the second quarter. He was 6 of 15 passing for 73 yards. Bryce Powers caught five passes for 87 yards and one score. Taylor Hall brought down three passes for 48 yards.
Mason Elms was the Pirates' leading ground gainer, with 69 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Brad Mills rushed 11 times for 48 yards, and Tariq Ellis carried the ball seven times for 48 yards. Whitworth gained 226 rushing yards. The Pirates finished with 514 yards of total offense, and limited Willamette to 168 yards. Weston Kores led the Whitworth defense with seven total tackles, while Cade Foisset provided six total tackles.
The Whitworth offense ran smoothly in the first half, as the Pirates scored touchdowns on each of their first six possessions. The first three touchdowns were recorded on running plays, as Elms dashed 47 yards for the first score, Ericksen snuck in on a 1-yard run for the second score, and Elms added a 1-yard run.
With 48 seconds left in the first quarter, Ericksen completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Powers. Following an extra point kick by Cody McDonald, the Pirates held a 28-0 lead.
On the first play after the kickoff, Castaneda dashed upfield on his 40-yard run, but Kale Wong forced a fumble at the end of the play, and Whitworth's Jaylen Gonzales recovered the ball at the Whitworth 44. The Pirates scored four plays later when Ericksen threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Brett Moser with 14:15 left in the half. The Pirates extended their lead to 45-0 at halftime. Whitworth added the game's final touchdown on a 1-yard run by Cole Heinrichs with 1:52 left in the game.
Big Moment of the Game for Willamette
Miles Bryant played with great poise and effort when he entered
the game at quarterback against the Pirates. He was 9 of 16
passing. His efforts also included a quick-kick punt on 4th-and-6
at the Whitworth 39-yard line late in the half. Bryant's punt came
down near the goal line, where several Bearcats worked to keep the
ball out of the end zone. They succeeded, with Michael Hamp downing
the ball at the 1-yard line.