Bearcats the No. 1 rushing team in NCAA Division III

When Willamette rushed for 468 yards last Saturday in a 30-23 win at Pacific Lutheran, it propelled the Bearcats to the top spot in NCAA Division III rushing.

Through eight games, WU (5-3) is now averaging 370.4 yards per game rushing. Salisbury (Md.) University was the national leader last week until rushing for only 158 yards Saturday. Salisbury (8-0) is now No. 2, averaging 359.9 yards per game.

In addition to leading the nation in rushing, Willamette is also ranked No. 9 in total offense (471.5) and scoring offense (41.8).

Since Willamette adopted the ‘Fly’ offense full-time in 1995, under then-assistant coach and now head coach Mark Speckman, the Bearcats have rushed for more than 425 yards five times — all on artificial turf.

Willamette ran for a school-record 530 yards in a 1996 national playoff game at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. One year later during Willamette’s storied 1997 season (13-1), the Bearcats broke the school record again with a 554-yard performance in a national playoff game at Parker Stadium in Corvallis. And at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, the Bearcats rushed for 538 yards in 1999 and 441 yards in 2001.

Last Saturday’s game at PLU was played at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.