Bearcats Pound Lutes, 45-18, to Improve to 7-0

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

PUYALLUP, WASH. -- Willamette University defeated Pacific Lutheran University, 45-18, on Saturday, Oct. 18, as the Bearcats improved to 7-0 on the season, 3-0 in the Northwest Conference. The Bearcats, who led 24-6 at halftime, are ranked #16 in the AFCA Coaches Poll and #19 in the D3Football.com Top 25. Pacific Lutheran dropped to 1-4 on the season, 1-1 in the NWC.

WU quarterback Grant Leslie (Sr., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) completed 15 of 20 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Merben Woo (Sr., FL, Salinas, CA/North Salinas HS/Hartnell College) caught five passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Woo also ran 11 times for 72 yards and another score.

The Bearcats took a 7-0 lead with 9:52 left in the first quarter on a 38-yard blocked punt return by Harmon Bruno (Fr., Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS). Lukkes Gilgan (Jr., FS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) blocked the punt by PLU's Doug Rickabaugh and Bruno grabbed the loose ball in the air and dashed for the touchdown.

It was Rickabaugh's second punt in as many plays. There were offsetting penalties on the first punt, which forced Rickabaugh to kick again.

On the ensuing kickoff, WU forced a fumble by Matt Wolford of Pacific Lutheran and Arlin Taylor (So., SS, Spring Valley, CA/Steele Canyon HS) recovered the ball for the Bearcats at the PLU 38. Willamette drove 30 yards, but failed on 4th-and-2 at the five yard line.

PLU kept the ball for just three plays before punting. Willamette gained possession at its own 46-yard line and drove 54 yards on 11 plays to score the game's second touchdown with 11:42 left in the second quarter.

Leslie was 4 for 5 for 31 yards on the drive and Willamette converted on third down three times. Marcus Woo (So., FL, Cupertino, CA/Monta Vista HS) scored the touchdown on a 1-yard run and Mitchell Rowan (Fr., PK/P, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) added the extra point for a 14-0 lead.

Rowan tacked on a 40-yard field goal at the 5:25 mark of the second period to increase the lead to 17-0. Pacific Lutheran answered with a 73-yard, six-play drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Greg Ford with 2:31 left in the half. The extra point kick failed.

The Bearcats put together one more drive before the half ended. Willamette used just three plays to reach the end zone. The first two plays netted five yards on carries by Cody Anthony (Sr., FB, Vale, OR/Vale HS). The third play was a 59-yard touchdown pass from Leslie to Merben Woo. Willamette owned a 24-6 advantage at the break.

PLU advanced the ball into Willamette territory on its second drive of the third quarter. Michael Byrne threw a 29-yard pass to Ford to start the drive, as the Lutes moved to the WU 33-yard line. Byrne rushed for a loss of one yard on the next play, then threw three incomplete passes in a row, and Willamette took over on downs.

Later in the quarter, the Bearcats began a 10-play drive that concluded on the first play of the fourth period when Leslie threw a 7-yard scoring strike to Scott Schoettgen (So., WR, Columbia, CA/Sonora HS). The drive covered 69 yards and lasted 6:12. Rowan kicked the extra point for a 31-6 lead.

The Lutes replied with a drive that led to an 11-yard touchdown catch by Ford with 11:41 left in the game. Byrne converted 4 of 5 passes for 37 yards during the 49-yard drive.

PLU had two chances on the conversion, as WU committed a holding penalty on the first attempt, which ended with an incomplete pass by Byrne. Kyle Whitford was stopped short of the goal line on the second attempt.

Willamette added a 32-yard touchdown run by Merben Woo with 5:58 remaining for a 38-12 advantage. Byrne scored for the Lutes on a 2-yard rush with 2:02 on the clock, and reserve tailback Jamiere Abney (Fr., Bremerton, WA/Bremerton HS) reached the end zone for Willamette on a 39-yard run with 57 seconds left.

WU amassed 420 total yards during the game. The Bearcats rushed 45 times for 222 yards and added Leslie's 198 passing yards through the air. Merben Woo led Willamette in rushing and receiving, while Deon Horne (Jr., TB, Issaquah, WA/Liberty HS) added 59 rushing yards on 12 carries. Pacific Lutheran gained 223 total yards, but had only 135 yards entering the final quarter.

The Bearcat defense limited the PLU rushing attack to just 26 yards on 24 carries (1.1 avg.). Byrne was 18 of 29 passing for the Lutes for 159 yards. Ford was 1 for 1 passing for 38 yards. Wolford returned seven kickoff for PLU for a total of 174 yards.

Defensive ends Cory Lowe (Jr., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS) and Marcus Ford (Sr., Marina, CA/Monterey Peninsula College) topped Willamette's defense with six total tackles apiece. Each registered one sack, and Ford also assisted on a tackle for a loss. Senior linebacker Neal Chalmers recorded a game-high 16 tackles (10 solo) for PLU.

Willamette kept the ball for 34:30 and was successful on 10 of 17 third downs and 2 of 3 four-down plays. The Lutes converted on 3 of 10 third-down plays and were 0 for 2 on fourth down.

The Bearcats have scored more than 30 points in all seven games. Willamette is averaging 42.0 points per game, while allowing just 16.0 points per contest.

WU will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 25, when the Bearcats take on arch rival Linfield College, ranked #25 in the D3Football.com Top 25. Game time in McMinnville, Ore., is set for 1:30 p.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 45
Pacific Lutheran University 18
Grant Leslie completed 15 of 20 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns against Pacific Lutheran.

Grant Leslie completed 15 of 20 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns against Pacific Lutheran.

Mitchell Rowan kicked a 40-yard field goal and went 6 for 6 on extra points against the Lutes.

Mitchell Rowan kicked a 40-yard field goal and went 6 for 6 on extra points against the Lutes.

Scott Schoettgen scored his third touchdown of the season in WU's win over PLU.

Scott Schoettgen scored his third touchdown of the season in WU's win over PLU.

Merben Woo achieved 130 receiving yards and 72 rushing yards against the Lutes.

Merben Woo achieved 130 receiving yards and 72 rushing yards against the Lutes.

Cory Lowe helped WU hold PLU to 26 rushing yards on 24 carries.

Cory Lowe helped WU hold PLU to 26 rushing yards on 24 carries.