BEARCATS SET TO HOST NO. 2 MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR SATURDAY

SALEM, OR — The Willamette University football team will be looking for their first win of the season this Saturday when they play host to No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor of Texas.

Last week, the Bearcats dropped their season opener, 35-0 to NCAA Division II Western Oregon.
This will be the second trip to McCulloch Stadium for Mary Hardin-Baylor, who lost 28-21 to Linfield in the national championship game last season. On their first trip to the Willamette Valley in 2003, the Crusaders defeated Willamette 27-15.

In last season’s game, played at the Crusaders home field in Belton, Texas, MHB pulled out a 25-22 double overtime win.

The Crusaders feature two D3football.com Preseason All-Americans, in senior running back Justin Bryson, and senior offensive lineman Bryan Ramirez. Bryson rushed for 1,869 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, which earned him a Second Team All-American selection.

“They are a big, physical team,” said Willamette head coach Mark Speckman. “The success that they’ve had speaks volumes about the type of program they have. We are excited to play them; it will be a good test for us. We take pride in playing the best, and we’re going to try and improve (on last week’s performance).”

The Bearcats offense will be looking to get on track against MHB, after gaining only 172 yards of total offense and 70 yards rushing last week. Last year against the Crusaders, Willamette totaled 289 yards on the ground.

“Offensively we need to move the ball better and convert on third and fourth downs,” said Speckman, referring to his teams 1 of 15 conversion rate on third-down and 1 of 4 rate on fourth-down in last week’s loss to Western Oregon.

Defensively, MHB is led by defensive tackle Elex Reed, who is a second team D3football.com Preseason All-American.