Willamette Rises to #12 in AFCA Coaches Poll

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University football team advanced three spots to #12 in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) NCAA Division III Poll released on Tuesday, Oct. 28. The Bearcats, who defeated arch rival Linfield College, 52-28, on Saturday, are 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the Northwest Conference.

The #1 team remained Mount Union College (Ohio) with a 7-0 record and 999 points in the poll. Mount Union received 39 of 40 first place votes and one second place vote. Muhlenberg College (Pa.) moved up two spots to #2 in the poll, after improving to 7-0 and receiving 896 points. Wabash College (Ind.), ranked #5 last week, took over the #3 position with a 7-0 record and 883 points. North Central College (Ill.), 7-0 on the season, moved up two spots to #4 with 881 points.

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, ranked #2 last week, lost to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 17-16, and fell to #10 in this week's poll. UW-Stevens Point entered the poll this week at #19.

Last week's #3 team, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, lost to Southern Oregon University of the NAIA, 40-28, and dropped to #9 this week. Willamette defeated Southern Oregon, 31-23, on Sept. 20.

Linfield, ranked #25 a week ago, fell out of the poll after losing to the Bearcats. Linfield is 4-2 on the season, 3-1 in the NWC.

Willamette is one of 14 undefeated teams in this week's poll. The Bearcats and Monmouth College (Ill.) are the only teams with 8-0 records. Willamette has an open date this weekend and Monmouth will have an open date on Nov. 15.

WU has averaged 43.2 points per game this season. The 'Cats have gained 384.9 total yards and 264.5 rushing yards per contest. Deon Horne (Jr., TB, Issaquah, WA/Liberty HS) leads the team in rushing with 604 yards and eight touchdowns on 85 carries (7.1 avg.). Quarterback Grant Leslie (Sr., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) has completed 67 of 119 passes (56.3%) for 904 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 8 when they host the University of Puget Sound. Game time at McCulloch Stadium is set for 1 p.m. (PST). Willamette will close out the regular season with a home game against Menlo College on Saturday, Nov. 15. Kickoff against the Oaks is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PST).

James Yamashita scored his first touchdown of the season on a 23-yard run against Linfield.

James Yamashita scored his first touchdown of the season on a 23-yard run against Linfield.