Willamette vs. Whitworth Preview

A pair of evenly matched squads square off in the Northwest Conference opener for both teams as the Willamette University Bearcats (3-2) host the Whitworth Pirates (2-2) Saturday afternoon in Salem at 1:30 pm.

Willamette comes into the game after last week’s 54-0 thrashing of Chapman. Led by the Bearcats punishing ground game (325.8 yards per game to rank first in the NWC), Willamette’s offense rolled up 485 yards in total offense and 399 yards on the ground to get back over the .500 mark for the season.

Running back Quentin Brock rushed for 96 yards on ten carries, including a 54-yard touchdown run to open the second half. Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Hernandez had four carries for 80 yards and a 35-yard touchdown run.

For the season, Brock is averaging just under 100 yards per game and 11.3 yards per carry with seven touchdowns. T.K. Mathews averages 85 yards per game.

The Pirates, who lost to the University of Montana-Western 37-24 last week, come into the game with the NWC’s No. 2 ranked run defense, allowing only 111 yards rushing per game. The Bucs give up 22.7 points per game.

Defensively, the Bearcats feature a pair of highly-regarded defensive backs. Trevor Stuble leads the Bearcats with 37 tackles while DB Marcus Boards leads the NWC in interceptions with five. Last week against Chapman, the Bearcats gave up only 97 yards in total offense.

Whitworth’s offense features wide receiver Dwayne Tawney (third in the conference in receptions per game with 6.75), placekicker Cameron Collins, and a pair of quarterbacks (Joe Gore and Joel Clark) who rotate on every series.

The Pirates have won the last three meetings between these two teams, including last year’s 44-31 overtime win. Overall, the Bearcats lead the series against Whitworth 25-15. Their only common opponent this season is Menlo College, which lost to Whitworth, 30-24, and beat the Bearcats, 41-19.