Concordia-Moorhead Holds Off Willamette, 24-17

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Concordia College-Moorhead scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half, including a 74-yard punt return with 18 seconds on the clock, to build a 24-7 halftime lead, then held off Willamette University for a 24-17 win in the season opener for both teams. Concordia is 1-0 and Willamette is 0-1.

Willamette scored first just 49 seconds into the game when defensive end Cory Lowe (Sr., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS) recovered a Concordia fumble and ran 38 yards for a touchdown. Mitchell Rowan (So., PK/P, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate) kicked the extra point to give WU a 7-0 lead.

The Bearcats held Concordia on three plays and quickly got the ball back at the WU 37-yard line with 13:14 left in the opening period. Willamette drove the ball down the field, including a 14-yard run by quarterback Ryan Whitcomb (Jr., Oak View, CA/Nordhoff HS/College of the Canyons) on 4th-and-4 at the Cobbers' 44-yard line. Two plays later, Deon Horne (Sr., TB, Issaquah, WA/Liberty HS) carried the ball for a 7-yard gain, but fumbled at the Concordia 13-yard line and the Cobbers recovered.

After Concordia gained one first down, the Bearcats forced the Cobbers to punt. The long snap was not good, but punter David Williamson managed to pick up the ball and get off a kick. Willamette was called for roughing the kicker, which gave Concordia the ball at the WU 38.

Eleven plays later, Justin Branter scored on a 1-yard run to complete a drive that lasted 17 plays overall. The extra point by Carl Hauer tied the game, 7-7, with 1:16 left in the first quarter.

The remainder of the half was controlled by the Cobbers. On Concordia's next possession, the home squad drove 66 yards on nine plays. Quarterback Andrew Larson scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard run with 9:16 left in the second period.

Willamette had the ball for just three offensive plays before punting back to Concordia. Following Rowan's 44-yard punt, the Cobbers took over at their own 27-yard line. Concordia drove 67 yards on 13 plays before Hauer kicked a 21-yard field goal, as Willamette fell behind 17-7 with 1:51 remaining in the half.

The Bearcats kept the ball for six plays, but had to punt with 41 seconds on the clock. Rowan connected for a 44-yarder, but Zach Debeltz returned the punt 74 yards for a touchdown. Hauer kicked the PAT with 18 seconds left to give the Cobbers a 24-7 halftime lead.

Willamette took charge on defense in the second half. After allowing Concordia to run 43 plays in the first half, the 'Cats held the Cobbers to just 25 plays over the final two quarters.

Neither team scored in the third period. The Bearcats tacked a touchdown and a field goal onto the scoreboard during the final quarter, but couldn't offset Concordia's first-half success.

Willamette first score of the second half was set up by two turnovers. WU gained possession at the Cobbers' 43-yard line following a fumble by Larson that was recovered by Ralph Pineda (Jr., ILB, Whittier, CA/Cathedral HS/San Jose State University) with 14:12 left in the game.

The Bearcats kept the ball for nine plays and advanced to the Concordia 7-yard line, but back-up quarterback Brandon Whitman (Sr., Renton, WA/Charles Lindbergh HS) was intercepted by Debeltz in the end zone. Concordia took over at its own 20 following the touchback, but Larson fumbled behind the line of scrimmage on the first play and Lowe recovered for WU at the Concordia 10-yard line.

WU gained three yards on three plays. On fourth down, Rowan kicked a 24-yard field goal to cut the Concordia lead to 24-10 with 8:50 remaining.

The Cobbers ran the ball three times before Williamson punted 44 yards. After a penalty on the return, the Bearcats started at their own 35-yard line.

Willamette scored 10 plays later on a 4-yard keeper by Whitman with 2:47 left in the game. The key plays of the drive were a 34-yard pass from Whitman to Scott Schoettgen (Jr., WR, Columbia, CA/Sonora HS) on 3rd-and-15 at the Concordia 49 and a 5-yard run by Horne on 4th-and-4 at the Concordia 9. Whitman reached the end zone on the following play. Rowan converted the PAT, as Willamette pulled within 24-17.

The Bearcats pinned the Cobbers deep in their own territory on the ensuing kickoff. Rowan sent the ball to the 1-yard line and returner Xavier Carroll gained just four yards before being tackles by Corey Walsh (Fr., DB, San Pedro, CA/San Pedro HS/Western New Mexico University).

On the next two plays, the Cobbers gained a total of eight yards, setting up 3rd-and-2 at the Concordia 13-yard line. Larson rushed for eight yards to gain the first down. Williamson punted four plays latter. His 44-yarder was answered with a 9-yard return by Arlin Taylor (Jr., SS, Spring Valley, CA/Steele Canyon HS), giving the Bearcats possession at the WU 39 with nine seconds left.

Freshman quarterback Brian Widing (Oregon City, OR/Canby Union HS) threw long on the final two plays of the game, but was unable to connect for a game-tying touchdown. His first pass, intended for Schoettgen, was broken up by Debeltz. Widing tried to hit Mikey Lemon (Jr., FL, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS/Linfield College) on the final play, but the pass fell incomplete.

Concordia-Moorhead finished the game with 265 yards, including 167 rushing yards on 54 carries. Willamette gained 229 total yards, with 117 yards on 41 running plays.

Each team dominated the stats for half of the game. In the opening half, Concordia-Moorhead accumulated 196 yards on 43 offensive plays, while limiting WU to 74 yards on 23 plays. In the second half, the Bearcats achieved 155 yards on 38 plays and held the Cobbers to just 69 yards on 25 plays.

Branter paced Concordia with 69 rushing yards on 17 carries. Larson rushed for 60 yards on 23 carries. He also completed 6 of 14 passes for 98 yards and one interception. On defense, Debeltz led the Cobbers with 11 total tackles, two interceptions and a pass break-up.

For WU, Horne was the top rusher with 44 yards on 12 carries. Whitcomb tacked on 32 yards on four rushing attempts. Schoettgen caught four passes for 59 yards to lead all receivers on both teams.

The quarterbacks for the Bearcats combined to complete 9 of 20 passes for 112 yards. Whitman was 6 of 11 for 89 yards and two interceptions. Whitcomb went 3 for 7 for 23 yards and one interception.

Four Willamette defensive players achieved double-digit tackles. Andrew Ross (Sr., ILB, Petaluma, CA/Petaluma HS) led the 'Cats with 12 total tackles. Pineda, Walter Robinson, II (Jr., DE, Altadena, CA/Cathedral HS) and Harmon Bruno (So., OLB, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) each registered 10 tackles. Lowe finished with five tackles to go with two fumble recoveries.

Rowan averaged 39.5 yards per punt, including one punt inside the 20-yard line. Williamson of Concordia averaged 38.2 yards per punt and also placed one punt inside the 20.

Willamette, which entered the game ranked #8 in the D3Football.com Preseason Top 25, will play its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 12 against California Lutheran University. Game time at McCulloch Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m. The game is part of Countdown to Kickoff on the Willamette campus.

BOX SCORE
Concordia College-Moorhead 24
Willamette University 17
Cory Lowe recovered two fumbles against Concordia. He scored on a 38-yard return on the first and set up a touchdown with the second.

Cory Lowe recovered two fumbles against Concordia. He scored on a 38-yard return on the first and set up a touchdown with the second.

Harmon Bruno, shown here on a punt play, finished the game with 10 tackles.

Harmon Bruno, shown here on a punt play, finished the game with 10 tackles.

Mitchell Rowan kicked a 24-yard field goal against the Cobbers.

Mitchell Rowan kicked a 24-yard field goal against the Cobbers.