By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Max Andersen (So./Fr., WR, Chico, CA/Pleasant Valley HS/Butte College) and Dylan Sparks (So., RB, Beaumont, CA/Beaumont HS) each scored a touchdown in the second half for Willamette University on Saturday, Nov. 2 at McCulloch Stadium, but the Bearcats couldn't overcome a strong start by George Fox University as the Bruins won the game, 61-13. GFU advanced to 4-4 on the season, 3-2 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette ended the evening at 2-6 overall, 0-5 in the NWC.
George Fox built a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and owned a 40-0 advantage at halftime. The Bruins outscored Willamette 21-13 in the second half.
Willamette's first touchdown was scored at the end of an 8-play, 75-yard drive in the third quarter. Andersen, who caught a 14-yard pass earlier on the drive, scored the touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Aidan Kuykendall (So., QB, San Pedro, CA/Palos Verdes Peninsula HS/L.A. Harbor College). Kuykendall entered the game early in the third quarter after starting quarterback Mathew Castaneda (Sr., QB, Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) left the game with an apparent injury. Kuykendall was 10 of 22 passing for 148 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
On the Bruins' second play after Andersen scored, Nick Garcia of GFU fumbled a lateral near the sideline. Keaton Adams (So., DL, Colorado Springs, CO/Doherty HS) of Willamette picked up the ball and returned it from the GFU 41 to the 2-yard line. On third down, Sparks scored for Willamette on a 1-yard carry.
The Bruins scored on their second possession of the game with an 8-play drive that covered 38 yards following a short punt. Wesley Riddell carried the ball on each of the first seven plays. On 4th-and-1 at the WU 2, quarterback Jaden Sheffey scored on a 2-yard run. Ethan Hoffman kicked the extra point with 4:42 on the clock.
After holding Willamette on three plays, the Bruins scored their second touchdown on a 60-yard punt return by Anthony Garcia. It was Garcia's second touchdown on a punt return this year. He entered the game averaging 19.3 yards per return. The extra point kick failed.
Brandon Piete of George Fox picked off a pass by Castaneda late in the first quarter and returned it nine yards to the WU 30. The interception set up a touchdown by Ethan Kassebaum on a 7-yard run to begin the second quarter.
GFU added an 11-yard touchdown run by Josiah Schmidt with 9:17 left in the second quarter for a 26-0 lead after the extra point was missed. Leon Johnson III completed the scoring for the Bruins in the second quarter by grabbing a 9-yard touchdown pass at the 3:43 mark and hauling in a 55-yard pass from Sheffey with 53 seconds remaining.
The Bruins gained 448 total yards during the game. George Fox rushed 41 times for 337 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown run by Kassebaum in the third quarter. Schmidt led all rushers with 76 yards on seven carries, while Kassebaum earned 72 yards on three carries. Sheffey was 7 of 9 passing for 82 yards and two scores. Johnson topped the receivers for GFU with four receptions for 69 yards.
Sparks was Willamette's leading rusher with 14 carries for 42 yards and one touchdown. Castaneda gained 25 yards on seven carries. Caine Farmer (Sr., WR/RB, Kit Carson, CO/Kit Carson School) latched onto four passes for 53 yards, while Ben Verhoeven (Sr./Jr., WR, Redlands, CA/Redlands HS) caught three passes for 26 yards and Andersen grabbed two passes for 50 yards. Willamette amassed 265 yards on offense.
The Bearcats will play at the University of Puget Sound on Saturday, Nov. 9. Game time in Tacoma, Washington, is set for 1 p.m. (PST).