Willamette Rallies Past Southern Oregon, 22-15

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

ASHLAND, ORE. -- Willamette University trailed by 13-3 at halftime, but the Bearcats rallied with a strong second half to defeat in-state rival Southern Oregon University, 22-15, on Saturday, Sept. 19. Willamette improved to 2-1, while SOU fell to 1-2.

The Bearcats started the comeback with a time-consuming drive to open the third quarter. Willamette drove 76 yards on 19 plays and ran 7:38 off the clock. The longest play of the drive was a 13-yard run by Deon Horne (Sr., TB, Issaquah, WA/Liberty HS) to give WU a 1st-and-10 at the SOU 12.

Willamette lost three yards on the next play, but Mikey Lemon (Jr., FL, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS/Linfield College) provided back-to-back runs for five yards and seven yards, respectively. On 4th-and-1, Horne rushed for two yards to get the first down at the Raiders' 2-yard line. On second down, Lemon crossed the goal line on a running play, as WU pulled within 13-9.

The extra point attempt was blocked by Dan Harvey. SOU special teams player Damilyn Tanner picked up the loose ball and went all the way to the other end zone for a defensive extra point. The Raiders led, 15-9, with 7:22 remaining in the quarter.

Following the kickoff, Southern Oregon took over at its own 22-yard line. Brandon Baldwin carried the ball 15 yards for a first down to start the possession. The next play was a short pass to wide receiver Blake Arrowsmith, who caught the ball at the line of scrimmage, but fumbled when he was hit by WU defensive tackle Ron Carter (So., Atwater, CA/Buhach Colony HS).

Willamette's Arlin Taylor (Jr., SS, Spring Valley, CA/Steele Canyon HS) recovered the fumble at the 37-yard line and return it to the end zone. Mitchell Rowan (So., PK/P, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) kicked the extra point to give WU a 16-15 advantage with 6:26 left in the third quarter.

A 39-yard run by Baldwin provided SOU with a 1st-and-10 at the Willamette 20 on the Raiders' next drive. Southern managed just two yards on the next three plays and Tyler Crowley missed a 37-yard field goal on fourth down.

The Raiders got the ball right back, when Lemon fumbled on the ensuing play. Isaac Hernandez recovered the ball for SOU at the Willamette 18-yard line.

Another turnover spoiled Southern's chance to regain the lead. On 3rd-and-9, quarterback Paul Sweeney was intercepted by inside linebacker Ralph Pineda (Jr., Whittier, CA/Cathedral HS/San Jose State Univ.). Pineda caught the ball in the end zone and returned it 45 yards.

Five running plays moved Willamette to 1st-and-10 at the SOU 33-yard line. Two plays later, on the final play of the third quarter, Brian Widing (Fr., QB, Oregon City, OR/Canby HS) hit Chad Pollard (So., WR, Bakersfield, CA/Liberty HS/Bakersfield College) with a 6-yard pass.

The Bearcats gained no yards on third down. On 4th-and-3, Widing connected with Scott Schoettgen (Jr., WR, Columbia, CA/Sonora HS) for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick failed, but WU owned a 22-15 lead with 14:10 left in the game.

Willamette's defense continued to provide key plays the rest of the way. First, the Bearcats forced SOU to punt. A penalty on the return moved WU to its own 6-yard line. A 12-yard run by Horne gave the 'Cats a first down, but four plays later, Willamette punted.

SOU took over at its own 26-yard line. After the Raiders gained one first down on a 16-yard pass from Sweeney to Adaggio Barone, the drive stalled. Walter Robinson, II (Jr., DE, Altadena, CA/Cathedral HS) sacked Sweeney for a 3-yard loss on 3rd-and-1 at the WU 46. The Raiders punted, and eventually downed the ball at the Bearcats' 3-yard line.

Rowan provided a 35-yard punt out of WU's end zone on fourth down. The Raiders again managed one first down, but stalled at the 25-yard line and the Bearcats took over on downs with 3:16 remaining.

With a bit more room to maneuver, the Willamette offense ran out the clock. Mikey Lemon opened the drive with an 11-yard carry and Pollard added a 10-yard run two plays later. WU was at the SOU 37-yard line when time expired.

In the first half, Southern Oregon gained 219 total yards, while limiting the Bearcats to 112 yards. Baldwin, who finished the game with 33 carries for 171 yards, scored for SOU on a 7-yard run with 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The scoring drive covered 79 yards on 10 plays.

Willamette pulled within 7-3 on a 20-yard field goal by Rowan at the 10:12 mark of the second quarter. The Raiders extended their lead to 13-3 when Vance Beach crossed the goal line on a 3-yard pass from Sweeney with 24 seconds left in the half. Crowley's PAT kick failed.

Southern Oregon forced a fumble by Jose Green (Jr., TB, Downey, CA/Warren HS) on the kickoff return. The Raiders took over at the WU 24 with 17 seconds on the clock. Sweeney hit Barone with a 6-yard pass, but the Raiders were unable to run another play before the half ended.

The Bearcats rushed for 166 yards on 48 carries during the game. Horne gained 86 yards on 22 carries, while Lemon supplied 49 yards on 11 attempts.

Widing, in his second start, provided a solid performance at quarterback. He showed patience in the backfield, as he led WU to 19 total first downs. He was 12 of 18 passing for 135 yards and one touchdown. Lemon hauled in five passes for 63 yards and Schoettgen caught four passes for 50 yards.

Willamette achieved 301 total yards of offense. For SOU, Baldwin's 171 rushing yards were more than half of the Raiders' overall offense of 288 yards. Sweeney was 11 of 21 passing for 106 yards with one interception. Beach caught five passes for 56 yards.

Pineda led the WU defense with 12 total tackles, plus an interception. Andrew Ross (Sr., ILB, Petaluma, CA/Petaluma HS) contributed nine tackles, while Robinson earned eight tackles to go with one sack and one fumble recovery. Thomas Sandoval topped Southern Oregon with nine tackles.

Willamette gained 189 yards in the second half. SOU managed just 69 yards over the final 30 minutes.

The Bearcats will return home to take on the University of La Verne (Calif.) on Saturday, Sept. 26. Kickoff at McCulloch Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 22
Southern Oregon University 15
Strong safety Arlin Taylor (#3 in photo) returned a fumble 37 yards to give the Bearcats a 16-15 lead in the third quarter.

Strong safety Arlin Taylor (#3 in photo) returned a fumble 37 yards to give the Bearcats a 16-15 lead in the third quarter.

Deon Horne rushed for 86 yards on 22 carries against Southern Oregon.

Deon Horne rushed for 86 yards on 22 carries against Southern Oregon.

Scott Hirschberger and the rest of the WU offensive line helped the Bearcats gain 301 total yards.

Scott Hirschberger and the rest of the WU offensive line helped the Bearcats gain 301 total yards.

Brian Widing runs the offense. Against SOU, he was 12 of 18 passing for 135 yards and one TD.

Brian Widing runs the offense. Against SOU, he was 12 of 18 passing for 135 yards and one TD.