Occidental Moves On to the Second Round of DIII Playoffs

Eagle Rock, CA — It simply wasn’t the Bearcats’ day. Quarterback Andy Collins threw four touchdown passes and the Occidental defense had a key goal-line stand early in the fourth quarter as the Willamette University football team lost in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championships, 28-14 to Occidental College.

It was the Bearcats’ first playoff appearance since 1999, but not the result Coach Mark Speckman and his squad wanted. Occidental moves on to the second round to play Concordia Moorhead College, a 28-14 winner over Wartburg.

With the game tied 14-14 after the first half, Collins hit wide receiver Zac Zakowski with a 71-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second half. That gave the Tigers a 21-14 lead they would never relinquish.

The Tigers made it 28-14 when they recovered a fumbled punt at the Bearcats 5-yard line. Collins hit Zakowski again, this time on a 15-yard TD pass to put Occidental up 28-14 with 14:29 to play.

The Bearcats had a chance to cut the lead early in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Megdy Khoury recovered an Occidental fumble at the eight-yard line. But the Tiger defense held, sacking Quarterback Michael Plank on a fourth down play.

From there, Occidental’s defense held firm, helped by the loss of starting QB Cameron Walton to injury. The Occidental offense converted twice on key third down plays, both times by just the nose of the football, and the Bearcats were sent home, ending the season with a 7-4 record.

In the first half, both teams scored their first touchdowns off blocked punts. Occidental tallied first after a partially blocked punt gave the Tigers the Ball at their own 47-yard line.

Collins finished an 11-play, 52-yard drive by hitting Josh Jones on a 13-yard TD pass.

The Bearcats tied the game with 4:49 to play in the first half when Wes Randall blocked a punt, which was recovered by Kevin Dean in the end zone.

Occidental took the lead again mid-way through the second quarter when a pair of Bearcat penalties led to another Collins-to Jones TD, this time a 38-yarder.

Calvin Keyser-Allen tied the game just before halftime, capping a 6-play 61-yard drive featuring two long runs by Keyser-Allen and one by Quentin Brock.