Willamette Improves to 4-0 with 44-0 Win at La Verne

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

LA VERNE, CALIF. -- Willamette University led 14-0 at halftime, then pulled away from the University of La Verne for a 44-0 victory on Saturday, Sept. 27 at Ben Hines Field. Tailback Deon Horne (Jr., Issaquah, WA/Liberty HS) ran for 129 yards for the Bearcats, who improved to 4-0 on the season. La Verne fell to 0-2.

The Bearcats blocked a punt for a safety and added an offensive touchdown to extend the lead to 23-0 midway through the third quarter. Willamette, ranked #25 in this week's D3Football.com Poll, continued to score on offense the rest of the way, while the WU defense preserved the shutout.

"I thought we played an efficient game," Head Coach Mark Speckman said. "The second half was explosive."

Willamette built its halftime lead on two touchdowns in the first quarter. Kyle Johnson (So., TB, Tualatin, OR/Tualatin HS/Assumption College) opened the scoring with a 1-yard run at the 9:19 mark. Johnson's short run completed a 12-play, 79-yard drive by the Bearcats.

Later in the quarter, after holding La Verne on downs at the WU 37, the Bearcats drove 63 yards in just three plays for a 14-0 advantage. The quick drive featured a 48-yard pass from quarterback Grant Leslie (Sr., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) to wide receiver Scott Schoettgen (So., Columbia, CA/Sonora HS) that brought he ball to the La Verne 8-yard line. Marcus Woo (So., FL, Cupertino, CA/Monta Vista HS) scored on the next play and Mitchell Rowan (Fr., PK/P, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) kicked the extra point.

Early in the second half, after a 42-yard punt by Rowan pinned ULV at its own 8-yard line, the Bearcats added a safety. On fourth down, the Leopards punted, but WU's Harmon Bruno (Fr., LB, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) blocked the kick and it went over the sideline in the end zone.

Jose Green (So., TB/KR, Downy, CA/Warren HS) returned the kickoff following the safety 32 yards to the ULV 41. Horne produced his 41-yard touchdown scamper on the next play and Rowan tacked on the PAT for a 23-0 lead.

"He did an awesome job," Speckman said about Horne's successful efforts on the ground. "He ran pretty much between the tackles."

Willamette added three touchdowns in the final quarter. Merben Woo (Sr., FL, Salinas,CA/N. Salinas HS/Hartnell College) scored on a 50-yard pass from Leslie on the first play of the period. Reserve fullback Dennis Ranck (Fr., Tigard, OR/Tualatin HS) ran into the end zone from 3-yards out with 10:09 to go. Back-up wide receiver Raymond White (Fr., Corona, CA/Centennial HS) ran to the goal line on a 45-yard pass from Brandt Nevin (So., QB, Eagle Point, OR/Eagle Point HS).

Rowan converted 6 of 6 extra points on the day. He also averaged 44.6 yards on five punts, including four inside the 20-yard line. His longest punt covered 58 yards.

Willamette amassed 506 yards of offense against the Leopards. The 'Cats rushed 54 times for 329 yards (6.1 avg.) and completed eight passes for 177 yards through the air. La Verne was limited to 216 total yards, as the Leopards rushed for just 67 yards on 39 carries and went 17 of 31 passing for 149 yards.

Leslie was 6 of 19 passing for 134 yards and one touchdown. He also threw one interception. Nevin added a 2-for-2 performance for 43 yards and a touchdown. Merben Woo rushed 7 times for 45 yards and caught two passes for 49 yards.

Anthony Andre of La Verne completed 16 of 29 passes for 133 yards. Curtis Puli was the top rusher for the Leopards, as he carried the ball 12 times for 27 yards.

Walter Robinson (So. OLB, Pasadena, CA/Cathedral HS) led the Willamette defense with eight tackles (all solo), while Tommy Grove (Sr., ILB, Moccasin, CA/Sonora HS/Butte College) added six tackles (all solo). Taylor Hart was La Verne's top tackler with nine total tackles (7 solo).

The Bearcats will open Northwest Conference play against defending NWC champion Whitworth University on Saturday, Oct. 4. Kickoff in Spokane, Wash., is scheduled for 1 p.m. (PDT).

Willamette University 44, University of La Verne 0
Deon Horne carried the ball 15 times for 129 yards and a 41-yard touchdown against La Verne.

Deon Horne carried the ball 15 times for 129 yards and a 41-yard touchdown against La Verne.