SALEM, OR — After a convincing 52-20 win over visiting Menlo College last weekend, the Willamette University football team will look to build on the momentum from that victory when they play at the University of Puget Sound this Saturday.

Saturday’s contest, set for 1:30 pm in Tacoma, will be the Northwest Conference opener for both schools.

The Bearcats have dominated the series with Puget Sound over the last decade, winning nine of the ten games the two teams have played. Last season’s game in Salem saw Willamette hold off a late Loggers rally for a 21-19 win.

Willamette’s win over Menlo last Saturday was the team’s first of the year and brought their record to 1-3 on the season. The Bearcats played their best game of the year on both sides of the ball, as the offense totaled 526 yards of total offense (417 on the ground), and the defense held Menlo to just one offensive touchdown.

The Bearcats defense will face a stern test on the ground this weekend against Puget Sound, as the Loggers are averaging 310.7 yards a game rushing, which ranks them eighth in the nation. Puget Sound’s most dangerous weapon on the ground is junior running back Rory Lee, who is sixth in the nation in rushing yards per game, with an average of 169.

The Loggers, 2-1 on the year, average just over ten passes a game, and senior quarterback Andy Carlson is a much bigger threat on the ground than through the air. Carlson is 13-of-38 with one touchdown pass and seven interceptions on the year. He is the Loggers third leading rusher, with 138 yards on 26 attempts.

Willamette is no slouch on the ground either, as they enter the game ranked 16th in the country in rushing yards per game, with an average of 259.

Senior running back Quentin Brock (Fresno, Calif.) continues to lead the Bearcats in rushing, averaging 92.8 yards per game. Flankers Ryan Hernandez (JR, Portland, Ore.) and Steve Wilbon (SR, Stockton, Calif.) have also both ran the ball well of late. Wilbon had 84 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win, and Hernandez had 95 yards and one TD.

Linebacker Phil Sweet (SO, Albany, Ore.) is leading Willamette in tackles, with 41 on the year. Last week he had 14 total tackles on his way to being named Northwest Conference Defensive Player of the Week.

Fellow linebacker Megdy Khoury (SR, Elko, Nev.), and safety Tim Alton (JR, Oregon City, Ore.), are defensive mainstays for the Bearcats, and will look to help Sweet and the rest of the Willamette defense in stopping the Loggers potent rushing attack.

Defensively for Puget Sound, sophomore defensive back Kynan Pang has 5 1/2 tackles for loss and three sacks on the year. Sophomore linebacker Steve Martin is the teams leading tackler, with 19 on the season.

Willamette leads the all-time series with Puget Sound, 38-23-5…The Bearcats have won the last four meetings…The Loggers last won in 2000, beating Willamette 17-14 in Salem…Puget Sound lost last week, 38-14 at the University of La Verne…The Loggers’ two wins were 27-19 over Pomona-Pitzer, and 31-10 over Claremont College…Saturday’s game is Puget Sound’s homecoming game…Loggers RB Rory Lee leads the NWC in rushing, and is averaging 60 yards more per game than the conference’s second place rusher, Chris Ashing of Whitworth…Puget Sound defensive end Beau Jacobson is from Wilsonville, Oregon, and has 3 1/2 tackles for loss on the year, including two sacks. Jacobson was a NWC Honorable Mention pick last season.