Bearcats Provide Lutes with Eight Turnovers in 38-7 Loss to Pacific Lutheran

Hernandez Rushes for 116 Yards, Scores Touchdown for Willamette

PUYALLUP, WASH. -- Willamette University and Pacific Lutheran University each achieved 18 first downs and PLU held less than a one-minute advantage in time of possession, but WU committed eight turnovers, leading to 17 points, as the Lutes defeated the Bearcats, 38-7, in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Nov. 11. Pacific Lutheran ended the season at 4-5 overall, 4-2 in the NWC. Willamette concluded the year with a 2-7 record, including 2-4 in the NWC.

Each team scored a touchdown on its first possession. PLU quarterback Brett Gordon opened the scoring with a 56-yard run to the end zone with 12:52 left in the opening quarter. Ryan Hernandez (Sr., FL, Portland, OR/Portland Christian HS) answered for Willamette with an 18-yard TD run with 9:09 remaining in the period. Hernandez led all rushers with 116 yards on 16 carries (7.2 avg.). Pat Burke of PLU and Matt Bicocca (Jr., PK, San Andreas, CA/Calaveras HS) of Willamette kicked the extra points to created an early 7-7 tie.

The next 17 points were scored by the Lutes following turnovers. PLU went up 14-7 when Craig Chiado scored on a 25-yard pass from Gordon with 2:32 to go in the first quarter, to complete a 5-play, 40-yard drive after a WU fumble on a punt return.

In the second quarter, Aaron Todd of PLU intercepted a long pass by Willamette quarterback Kevin Whipps (Jr., Eagle, ID/Eagle HS) in the Lutes' end zone. Sixteen plays later, Pacific Lutheran took a 17-7 lead with a 28-yard field goal by Burke.

On the Bearcats' next possession, punter Clint Moran (Jr., Mission Viejo,CA/Capistrano Valley HS) fumbled a snap and Chase Reed recovered the ball for PLU just 11 yards from the WU end zone. It took the Lutes one play to score, as Gordon threw an 11-yard pass to Jacob Washburn. Burke kicked the PAT, giving PLU a 24-7 lead with 1:14 remaining before halftime.

Willamette drove from its own 37-yard line to the PLU 20 in the next minute, but was unable to put points on the scoreboard when back-up quarterback Grant Leslie (So., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) was sacked for a three-yard loss, then Bicocca was short on a 40-yard field goal attempt.

The Bearcats were thwarted in their efforts by three more turnovers in the second half. PLU failed to score on any of the second-half turnovers, but miscues made it difficult for WU to start a rally. The Lutes scored twice in the fourth quarter, on a 77-yard pass from Gordon to Reed at the 14:48 mark and on a 2-yard run by Chris Maine with 3:08 left. Burke kicked both extra points for the final 38-7 score.

PLU gained 352 yards of total offense. The Lutes rushed for 164 yards on 37 carries and threw for another 188 yards. Gordon was 12 of 26 passing for 184 yards and three touchdowns. Maine went 1 for 2 for four yards.

Gordon also led the Lutes in rushing, with 55 yards on seven carries. Craig Stahl added 49 yards on 11 carries. The top receivers for PLU were Brian Stevens, with three catches for 45 yards, Washburn with three catches for 15 yards and Reed with two catches for 101 yards. The Lutes had just one turnover -- a fumble early in the third quarter that was recovered by Mitchell MacCready (Jr., DT, Manteca, CA/Manteca HS) of Willamette at the WU 44-yard line.

Willamette finished the game with 235 total yards. The Bearcats gained 141 rushing yards on 43 carries, led by Hernandez's 116 yards. Whipps was 5 of 15 passing for 52 yards. He had three interceptions. Leslie went 3 of 6 in the air for 34 yards, while Drew Shepherd (Fr., FL, Park City, UT/Park City HS) was 1 of 1 for eight yards.

Senior wide receiver Mike Plank (Stockton, CA/Franklin HS) caught four passes for 46 yards for the Bearcats. Tony Davis (Jr., TE, Boise, ID/Mountain View HS) hauled in two passes for 21 yards and Jonathan Irizarry (Sr., WR, Woodside, CA/Woodside HS) received two passes for 19 yards.

Moran averaged 55.5 yards on two punts for the Bearcats. His kicks went for 52 yards and 58 yards, both in the third quarter.

PLU finished the game with 30:29 of possession, while the Bearcats had the ball for 29:31. The Lutes disrupted Willamette's passing game with six sacks, while WU registered two sacks against Gordon.

The leading tackler in the game was Chad Blau of PLU, who earned 10 total tackles. He had six solo tackles, earned two tackles for losses, recorded one quarterback sack and recovered a fumble. Andy Eisentrout added nine tackles (seven solo) for the Lutes.

Willamette received a team-high nine tackles from Taylor Hermes (Jr., LB, Keizer, OR/McNary HS/Southern Oregon University). MacCready provided seven tackles (four solo), including three tackles for losses and both of Willamette's sacks. Ben Fennimore (Jr., FS, Salem, OR/McKay HS) was credited with six tackles for WU, all on unassisted stops.