Bearcats Finish Regular Season Undefeated at 10-0

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Grant Leslie (Sr., QB, Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) completed 9 of 11 passes for 162 yards in the first half, including a key touchdown pass to Scott Schoettgen (So., WR, Columbia, CA/Sonora HS) late in the second period, to lead Willamette University to a 28-3 victory over Menlo College on Saturday, Nov. 15 at McCulloch Stadium. WU led 21-3 at halftime, then added the final touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

The Bearcats, ranked #10 in the D3Football.com Top 25 and #9 in the AFCA Coaches Poll, ended the regular season undefeated at 10-0. Willamette also claimed an outright Northwest Conference championship with a 6-0 record in conference play. WU has earned the NWC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Playoffs. Menlo concluded its season at 3-7 overall, 2-4 in the NWC.

Willamette, which entered the weekend ranked #1 in the NCAA West Region, will find out its opponent and the site for next week's first round playoff game when the NCAA announces all of the NCAA Division III pairings on ESPNews between 12 p.m. (PST) and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 16. All first round games will be played on campus sites on Saturday, Nov. 22.

The key play in Willamette's win over Menlo was on 4th-and-11 with less than one minute remaining in the first half. Leslie set up to pass and threw the ball toward the right side of the field near the 20-yard line. Schoettgen made a nice catch with a defender nearby and another approaching. He avoided the tackle, then scampered into the end zone. Mitchell Rowan (Fr., PK/P, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) kicked the extra point to create WU's 21-3 halftime lead.

Merben Woo (Sr., FL, Salinas, CA/North Salinas HS/Hartnell College) of Willamette scored the game's first points on a 7-yard run with 6:13 left in the first quarter. Menlo cut the lead to 7-3 on a 34-yard field goal by Eddie De Leon at the 1:10 mark of the opening period. It was the Oak's only score of the game.

Jose Green (So., TB, Downey, CA/Warren HS) increased Willamette's lead to 14-7 with a 9-yard touchdown run with 12:53 remaining in the half. Schoettgen's touchdown catch later in the second period completed an 8-play, 79-yard drive that lasted 2:29 for the Bearcats. All three of WU's first half scoring drives lasted at least seven plays and covered 60 or more yards.

The game's final touchdown was scored by Deon Horne (Jr., TB, Issaquah, WA/Liberty HS) on a 19-yard run with 13:22 remaining in the game. Horne started up the middle, evaded an attempted tackle, continued upfield, and fought for the final five yards to the end zone as Menlo players attempted to bring him down.

Willamette finished with 437 total yards, including 245 yards on the ground and 192 yards through the air. Menlo attained 226 total yards, but gained just 45 yards on 29 running plays, in part due to five sacks of quarterback Angel Molino by the Bearcat defense.

Molino completed 14 of 25 passes for 181 yards and was intercepted at the WU goal line on the final play of the first half. Lukkes Gilgan (Jr., FS, Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) earned the interception and went 70 yards on the return before he was driven out of bounds.

Leslie finished 12 of 17 passing for 192 yards. Schettgen caught five passes for 95 yards. Horne gained 93 rushing yards on 13 carries.

The Willamette defense was led by Tommy Grove (Sr., ILB, Moccasin, CA/Sonora HS/Butte College), Jack Bevins (Sr., ILB, Park City, UT/Park City HS) and Marcus Ford (Sr., DE, Marina, CA/Seaside HS/Monterey Peninsula College). Grove earned nine tackles, including six unassisted tackles. Bevins also made nine stops, including one sack for an 8-yard loss.

Ford led WU with 3.5 sacks (28 yards lost) and 4.5 tackles for losses (36 yards lost). His efforts spearheaded an aggressive performance by the 'Cats in the second half, when Willamette held the Oaks to just 78 yards. Ford also broke up one pass and finished with seven total tackles.

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 28
Menlo College 3
Scott Schoettgen scored on a 36-yard pass late in the first half against Menlo. Here he's catching a pass versus Linfield.

Scott Schoettgen scored on a 36-yard pass late in the first half against Menlo. Here he's catching a pass versus Linfield.