Hardin-Simmons Outscores Bearcats, 31-22, in Top 25 Battle

Schoettgen Earns 8 Catches for 222 Yards and 3 TDs

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

ABILENE, TEXAS -- Hardin-Simmons University claimed a 17-9 halftime lead, then held off Willamette University by matching scores in the second half, as the Cowboys defeated the Bearcats, 31-22, in a battle of nationally ranked teams on Saturday, Sept. 11. Willamette, ranked #13 in the D3football.com Top 25, moved to 1-1 on the season. Hardin-Simmons, ranked #14, improved to 2-0 overall.

Willamette's offensive efforts were highlighted by senior wide receiver Scott Schoettgen (Columbia, CA/Sonora HS), who caught eight passes for a career-high 222 yards and three touchdowns (71, 34, 78). His yardage total was just 22 yards short of the Willamette record of 244, set by Jeff Jones against Western Oregon University on Oct. 5, 1985.

HSU scored first with 5:11 left in the opening quarter on a 2-yard run by Grant Derrick. Scott Newberry kicked the extra point, giving the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.

Jake Knecht (So., WR, Issaquah, WA/Skyline HS/Illinois State Univ.) returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to place the Bearcats at the HSU 34. Limited by a false start penalty and a holding penalty, Willamette had to punt four plays later. Mitchell Rowan (Jr., PK/P, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) provided a 39-yard punt that was downed at Hardin-Simmons 2-yard line.

The Cowboys also were forced to punt after just three plays. Brandon Abbott managed a 31-yard punt, which Jose Green (Sr., TB, Downey, CA/Warren HS) return 11 yards to the HSU 28.

Willamette picked up two first downs and eventually faced 2nd-and-2 at the 2-yard line, but a false start penalty cost the Bearcats five yards. Three plays later, WU settled for a 36-yard field goal by Rowan. HSU's lead was 7-3 with 11:03 left in the first half.

Interceptions on the next two Hardin-Simmons possessions gave Willamette a chance to move in front. After Cody Pastorino (So., S, Glenn, CA/Willows HS) hauled in the first pick at the HSU 30, the Bearcats drove 25 yards on seven plays before a 22-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

Hardin-Simmons drove from the HSU 20 to the WU 27 over the next eight plays. On the ninth play, Ralph Pineda (Sr., ILB, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS/San Jose State Univ.) intercepted quarterback Justin Feaster at the 15-yard line.

Willamette kept the ball for just two plays, as Josh Roberson of HSU intercepted a pass and took it 17 yards to the end zone. Newberry added the PAT to give the Cowboys a 14-3 lead with 2:05 remaining in the half.

The Bearcats wasted little time in responding to the touchdown. Just two plays following the kickoff, Kevin Ramay (Fr., QB, Simi Valley, CA/Grace Brethren HS) hit Schoettgen with a 71-yard touchdown pass. Dustin Emery of HSU blocked the extra point kick, leaving Hardin-Simmons in front, 14-9.

Hardin-Simmons drove 68 yards on nine plays to end the half. The Cowboys extended the lead to 17-9 when Newberry kicked a 28-yard field goal as the clock expired.

At the start of the third quarter, Knecht returned the kickoff 29 yards to the WU 43 and the Bearcats put together a six-play drive.

The fifth play was a 3-yard run by Terrell Malley (So., TB, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) for a third down conversion at the HSU 34. It was followed by a 34-yard touchdown pass from Brian Widing (So., QB, Oregon City, OR/Canby Union HS) to Schoettgen. The extra point kick pulled Willamette within two points at 17-15.

The Cowboys answered with a 12-play, 70-yard drive that featured a fourth down conversion. On 4th-and-1 at the Willamette 34, Feaster completed a 5-yard pass to ZaVious Robbins to keep the drive going. Aaron Willman caught a 24-yard pass two plays later. Following an incomplete pass, Feaster crossed the goal line on a 9-yard run with 7:25 left in the quarter.

Neither team scored on its next possession, but WU cut the lead to 24-22 early in the final period. The Bearcats scored on a three-play drive when Schoettgen reached the end zone on a 78-yard pass from Widing. Rowan kicked the PAT.

WU forced Hardin-Simmons to punt and the Bearcats took over at the WU 21. Chad Pollard (Jr., FL, Bakersfield, CA/Liberty HS/Bakersfield College) rushed for 14 yards to the 35-yard line for a first down, but Willamette was soon stopped when Widing's fourth down pass fell incomplete.

Two plays later, the Cowboys regained a nine-point lead when Travis Tatsch caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Feaster. Newberry kicked the extra point, as HSU claimed a 31-22 advantage. Neither team scored the rest of the game.

Hardin-Simmons earned 387 total yards on 71 plays, while Willamette gained 385 yards on 63 plays. HSU rushed for 99 yards on 38 carries, led by Steven Rockwell, who finished with 54 yards on 19 attempts. Willamette gained 96 yards on the ground on 32 carries. Pollard rushed nine times for 42 yards.

Feaster was 24 of 33 passing for 288 yards and one touchdown. Widing and Ramay were a combined 14 of 31 for 289 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Widing connected on 8 of 16 passes for 176 yards, while Ramay threw for 113 yards.

Schoettgen's 222 receiving yards led all players. Pollard caught three passes for 48 yards for Willamette. Robbins of HSU topped the Cowboys with nine catches for 79 yards.

Pineda recorded big numbers on defense for WU. He made 17 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for losses. He also intercepted a pass. Arlin Taylor (Sr., S, Spring Valley, CA/Steele Canyon HS) registered 10 tackles. Caleb Christian topped Hardin-Simmons with nine tackles and three pass break-ups.

Willamette led the punting statistics, as Rowan averaged 43.5 yards on four kicks, while placing two punts inside the 10-yard line at the 2 and the 8. HSU punter Brandon Abbott averaged 38.2 yards on four punts, while Feaster averaged 32.3 yards on three quick kicks.

The Bearcats will now return home following back-to-back lengthy road trips to host Southern Oregon University in the home opener on Saturday, Sept. 18. Game time at McCulloch Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m. (PDT).

Hardin-Simmons University 31
Willamette University 22
Scott Schoettgen caught eight passes for a career-high 222 yards against the Cowboys.

Scott Schoettgen caught eight passes for a career-high 222 yards against the Cowboys.

Jake Knecht returned four kickoffs for a total of 122 yards, including a 45-yard return.

Jake Knecht returned four kickoffs for a total of 122 yards, including a 45-yard return.

Ralph Pineda led all players with 17 total tackles. He also intercepted a pass.

Ralph Pineda led all players with 17 total tackles. He also intercepted a pass.