Willamette Defense Limits Menlo to 61 Yards in 32-14 Victory

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

ATHERTON, CALIF. -- Willamette University held Menlo College to just 61 yards and only 40 offensive plays, as the Bearcats defeated the Oaks, 32-14, in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Oct. 20. Willamette improved to 3-4 on the season, including 2-1 in the NWC. Menlo fell to 1-7 overall, 1-3 in the NWC.

Willamette quarterback Ryan Whitcomb (So., Oak View, CA/Nordhoff HS/College of the Canyons) ran for 104 yards on 14 carries and Skylar Swinford (Sr., RB, McCall, ID/McCall-Donnelly HS) scored two touchdowns. The Bearcats rushed 75 times for 389 yards (5.2 avg.) and gained 425 yards of total offense.

WU's defense allowed just 41 rushing yards on 19 carries by the Oaks. Menlo also struggled through the air, gaining just 20 yards passing. Menlo was 0 for 11 on third-down conversions and 0 for 1 on fourth-down conversions.

The Oaks scored both of their touchdowns on defense. A 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by Korey Gray gave Menlo a 7-0 lead just 1:33 into the game. After Willamette moved in front 10-7, Andrew Sevens returned a Bearcat fumble 65 yards to the end zone, giving Menlo a 14-10 advantage with 3:16 left in the first half.

WU immediately answered with a nine-play, 61-yard drive to take a 17-14 lead into the break. The drive included runs of 15 yards and 16 yards by Whitcomb. The go-ahead touchdown was scored by C.J. Washington (Sr., RB, Spokane, WA/Shadle Park HS) on a 1-yard run with 54 seconds left in the half. Matt Bicocca (Sr., PK, San Andreas, CA/Calaveras HS) kicked the extra point.

Willamette never trailed again, as the Bearcats added two touchdowns in the second half, while the WU defense continued to keep the Menlo offense off the scoreboard. Both of WU's touchdowns in the second half were scored by Swinford -- on a 6-yard run with 20 seconds left in the third quarter and on an 18-yard run with 11:30 remaining in the game.

Bicocca kicked the PAT after Swinford's first touchdown. A bad snap on the second conversion led to a two-point score by Neil Bergquist (So., DE, Edmonds, WA/Edmonds-Woodway HS) on a pass from holder Clinton Moran (Sr.,. P, Mission Viejo, CA/Capistrano Valley HS).

After falling behind 7-0, the Bearcats recorded 10 unanswered points to take their first lead midway through the second quarter. Willamette tied the game at 7-7 on a 9-yard pass from Whitcomb to tight end Tony Davis (Sr., Boise, ID/Mountain View HS) with 10:52 to go in the first half. The touchdown pass was thrown on 3rd-and-goal and completed a 13-play, 73-yard drive for the Bearcats. WU moved ahead by three points on its next possession, as Bicocca kicked a 26-yard field goal at the 7:16 mark of the second quarter.

Whitcomb's 104 rushing yards gave him three 100-yard rushing games this season. Marcus Woo (Fr., FL, Cupertino, CA/Monta Vista HS) added 70 yards on 10 carries and Washington finished with 53 yards on 15 carries. Swinford and Merben Woo (Jr., FL, Salinas, CA/North Salinas HS/Hartnell JC) each gained 40 yard on 11 rushing attempts. Cody Anthony (Sr., RB, Vale, OR/Vale HS) rushed for 35 yards on just three carries.

Successful running allowed the Bearcats to keep the ball on the ground for all but eight offensive plays. Whitcomb was 3 of 7 for 36 yards, with all three completions to Davis. In addition to completing a two-point conversion pass, Moran threw incomplete on a fake field goal.

Menlo was 10 of 21 passing. Angel Molina converted 8 of 13 passes for 11 yards and Tony Rehn went 2 for 6 for nine yards. Jake LaVoie caught four passes for a total of three yards for the Oaks.

Leading Willamette's defensive charge was senior inside linebacker Taylor Hermes (Keizer, OR/McNary HS/Southern Oregon University), who recorded seven total tackles, including one tackle for a loss. Phil Sweet (Sr., ILB, Albany, OR/West Albany HS) provided the 'Cats with six tackles. Cory Lowe (So., DE, Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS) and Marcus Ford (Jr., DE, Marina, CA/Seaside HS/Monterey JC) registered four tackles apiece. Ford recorded a quarterback sack, while Lowe earned one tackle for a loss and forced a fumble.

Despite its dominating defensive effort, the Bearcats did not force a turnover by the Oaks. Menlo, however, never put together a drive of more than eight plays. The Oaks' eight-play drive was in the fourth quarter and ended with a 50-yard missed field goal by Kainoa Lemke.

Menlo received double-digit tackles from four players, as the Oaks faced 83 offensive plays by the Bearcats. Curtis Berry led MC with 14 total tackles. Kael Johnson provided 12 tackles, including one quarterback sack. Travis Correa and Nick D'Antonio each achieved 11 tackles.

On special teams, Bicocca averaged a solid 57.3 yards on kickoffs. With his successful field goal attempt in the second quarter, he is now 5 of 8 on field goals this season and 18 of 25 the past three years. Artie Atencio (Jr., CB, Scotts Valley, CA/Scott Valley HS) returned three punts for a total of 37 yards, including a 17-yarder.

The Bearcats will play their first home game since Sept. 29 when defending NWC champion Whitworth University arrives at McCulloch Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 32
Menlo College 14
Skylar Swinford scored two rushing touchdowns against Menlo College on Oct. 20.

Skylar Swinford scored two rushing touchdowns against Menlo College on Oct. 20.