Bearcates Stay Even with Linfield Until Late in Third Quarter; Wildcats Pull Away for 42-14 Victory

McMINNVILLE, ORE. -- The Willamette University football team battled evenly with Linfield College for the better part of three quarters, but the Wildcats struck for 28 points in the final 18:28 to defeat the Bearcats, 42-14, in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Sept. 30. Linfield improved to 1-2 overall and started NWC play at 1-0. Willamette dropped to 1-4 overall, 1-1 in the NWC.

The Bearcats led 14-7 after Kevin Dean (Sr., FB, Weed, CA/Weed HS) scored on a 1-yard run with 47 seconds left in the first quarter. After Linfield reached the end zone on a 34-yard pass from Trevor Sharer to Bubba Lemon with 6:16 remaining in the second quarter, the score was tied, 14-14. Neither team scored during the remainder of the half.

Willamette appeared poised to regain the lead after driving from its own 30-yard line to the LC 15-yard line following the second half kickoff. The drive ended, however, when the Bearcats faked a 32-yard field goal on 4th-and-6 and holder Clint Moran (Jr., P, Mission Viejo, CA/Capistrano Valley HS) underthrew tight end Tony Davis (Jr., Boise, ID/Mountain View HS).

Linfield countered with a 10-play, 85-yard drive that lasted 6:19 before Scharer hit Jared Thomas with a 17-yard touchdown pass. The drive benefited from a 10-yard pass on 3rd-and-10 at the Linfield 26-yard line that appeared to be a trap on TV replays, but was ruled a catch on the field. Five plays later Thomas scored. Clint Languemi kicked the PAT to give the Wildcats a 21-14 advantage with 3:28 left in the third period.

The Wildcats added three scores in the fourth quarter to pull away from WU. Mike Ketler crossed the goal line on a 1-yard run with 13:02 remaining. Keone Tawata, who led Linfield with seven total tackles, scored on a 40-yard interception return with 12:27 to go, and Scharer ran a quarterback sneak to score from 1-yard out with 7:58 on the clock.

Linfield gained 466 total yards, including 346 yards through the air. Scharer was 21 of 29 for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Thomas caught seven passes for 104 yards and Josh Viera hauled in three passes for 122 yards, including a 94-yard TD catch for the game’s first score.

Willamette earned 270 total yards, with 196 yards passing. Quarterback Kevin Whipps (Jr., Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) completed 13 of 25 passes for 181 yards. He was intercepted three times, but one theft occurred after a pass was tipped an another was grabbed after a pass went off the hands of a receiver. Mike Plank (Sr., WR, Stockton, CA/Franklin HS) led the Bearcats with seven catches for 83 yards. Davis caught four passes for 66 yards.

Both teams struggled on the ground. The Bearcats ran 29 times for 74 yards, led by Dean, who gained 36 yards on seven carries. A week ago, Dean rushed for 168 yards on 11 carries in Willamette’s 41-35 win at Menlo. C.J. Washington (Jr., RB, Spokane, WA/Shadle Park HS) added eight carries for 33 yards.

Linfield ended the game with 120 rushing yards on 36 carries, but added several significant gains late in the game. Jon Montalvo topped the Wildcats in rushing with 35 yards on five carries. Louie Penn chipped in 33 yards on four carries.

Willamette committed five turnovers and recorded two takeaways. Tawata was Linfield’s top defensive player, as he not only led the team in tackles, but also forced one fumble, recovered one fumble and intercepted two passes.

For the Bearcats, Rah-Ben Coates (Sr., DE, Los Angeles, CA/Westchester HS) forced a fumble leading to a turnover and Ben Fennimore (Jr., FS, Salem, OR/McKay HS) intercepted a pass and returned it 19 yards. WU’s leading tackler was Ben Weyerhaeuser (Sr.,SS, Eatonville, CA/Charles Wright Academy), with 10 total tackles on two solo stops and eight assists. Phil Sweet (Jr., LB, Albany, OR/West Albany HS) and Taylor Hermes (Jr., LB, Keizer, OR/McNary HS/Southern Oregon Univ.) each contributed nine total tackles.

Willamette is idle next Saturday. The Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 14, when they host the University of Puget Sound in a Northwest Conference game. Kickoff at McCulloch Stadium is slated for 6 p.m. (PDT).