Whitworth Defeats Willamette, 25-24, in Two Overtimes

Derby Ties Game with 29-Yard Field Goal on Final Play of Regulation

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Whitworth University was successful on a two-point conversion attempt in the second overtime period, as the Pirates defeated Willamette University at McCulloch Stadium on Saturday, October 29. Quarterback Bryan Peterson of Whitworth threw the winning conversion pass to Austin Ehlo.

Whitworth moved to 3-5 overall, 2-2 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 3-5 on the season, 2-2 in the NWC.

The game was tied 10-10 at the end of regulation after WU place-kicker Kyle Derby made a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the fourth quarter.

Two Overtime Periods

In the first overtime, Whitworth had the ball first. College overtime rules give each team one possession starting 1st-and-10 at the opponent's 25-yard line. The possession continues until the team scores, is stopped on fourth down, or commits a turnover.

The Pirates kept the ball for seven plays before Ronnie Thomas scored on a 1-yard run. On the play immediately prior to the touchdown, Whitworth picked up 4th-and-2 from the WU 3-yard line when quarterback Peterson rushed for two yards. After Thomas scored on the next play, Sean McNealley kicked the extra point to give the Pirates a 17-10 lead.

Willamette started its first possession of overtime with a false start penalty. On 1st-and-15, quarterback Brian Widing (Jr., Canby, OR/Canby HS) connected with Benny Weischedel (Jr., TE, San Pedro, CA/San Pedro HS) on a 24-yard pass. The play gave Willamette 1st-and-goal at the Whitworth 6-yard line.

Dylan Jones (Fr., TB, Santa Maria, CA/Ernest Righetti HS) gained four yards on 1st down and Jamiere Abney (Sr., TB, Bremerton, WA/Bremerton HS) added 1-yard on the next play. Jones was then stopped by Nic Brockhoff and Fernando Noriega for a 2-yard loss.

On 4th-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Widing hit Jake Knecht (Jr., WR, Issaquah, WA/Skyline HS/Illinois State Univ.) in the right front corner of the zone for a touchdown. Knecht made a nice catch while keeping himself in-bounds and in the end zone. Derby kicked the PAT to tie the game at 17-17.

The teams switched from the North end of McCulloch Stadium to the South end for the second overtime with Willamette taking the first possession.

Willamette scored in two plays, as Jake Turner (Jr., FL, Ontario, OR/Ontario HS) rushed for two yards on the first play and went 23 yards to the end zone on the second. He eluded several tacklers on the way, eventually breaking the final tackle just inside the 10-yard line. Derby put through the extra point, giving the Bearcats a 24-17 lead.

The Pirates answered in one play. Peterson threw a 25-yard scoring strike to Ehlo on the play. Following a timeout, the Pirates went for two points. Peterson threw again to Ehlo, who broke inside and then outside in the end zone before catching the pass for the winning points.

Defensive Battle in Regulation

Mistakes and penalties cost the Bearcats throughout the game.

On the game's first play from scrimmage, Widing completed a pass to Knecht. As he was being tackled near the Willamette sideline after a 10-yard gain, he fumbled and Brockhoff recovered for the Pirates at the Willamette 40.

Eight plays later, Peterson scored on a 15-yard quarterback keeper to give the Pirates an early lead. McNealley converted the extra point.

The Bearcats committed two penalties on their next possession and kept the ball for just three plays.

After punting, Willamette gave up one first down on a 45-yard pass from Peterson to Ehlo to the WU 26. A sack by Willamette's Ryan Bourke (Sr., DE, Bothell, WA/Archbishop Murphy HS) three plays later on 3rd-and-10 forced the Pirates to punt from the Bearcats' 38. Eric Knowles (Jr., FL, Tacoma, WA/Charles Wright Academy) of Willamette fumbled the punt, but recovered the ball at the 13-yard line.

Willamette drove 87 yards on 17 plays to tie the game. Widing was 4 for 6 passing on the drive for 32 yards. Turner provided a key play with an 18-yard run to the Whitworth 18-yard line. On 4th-and-2 at the 10, Taylor Wyman (Fr., TB, Bellevue, WA/Issaquah HS) gained seven yards for a first down.

Abney scored on the ensuing play. Derby kicked the PAT for a 7-7 tie with 12:08 left in the second quarter.

On Whitworth's next drive, the Pirates had the ball for only three plays, as Peterson was intercepted by Cody Pastorino (Jr., S, Glenn, CA/Willows HS) at the Willamette 40. Pastorino returned the pickoff 37 yards to the Whitworth 23. The Bearcats gained only 4 yards on 4 plays following the turnover and were stopped on fourth down for a 4-yard loss.

The score remained 7-7 until the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

Excitement in the Fourth Quarter

Whitworth punted from its own 39 with about 6:30 remaining. Ehlo, who also punts for the Pirates, sent a 56-yarder inside the Willamette 10. Wendell Galvan (Fr., CB, Bothell, WA/Bothell HS) caught the ball at the 5-yard line to start a return. He was hit by Drew Powell and fumbled at the 15-yard line. Chris Meyer recovered for the Pirates at the 14.

The Bearcats limited Whitworth to just five yards after the turnover, but the field position favored the Pirates, who benefited from a 25-yard field goal by McNealley with 4:23 left.

Willamette responded with an 11-play, 43-yard drive to force overtime. Tyson Giza (So., CB, Salem, OR/Sprague HS) returned the kickoff 27 yards to the Willamette 45. Three plays later, Widing hit Knecht on an 18-yard pass, bringing the ball to the Whitworth 25. Three consecutive running plays brought the ball to the 9-yard line.

A carry by Jones on 1st down added six yards to the Whitworth 3. Prior to the next snap, Willamette was penalized for a fall start, which moved the ball back to the 8-yard line.

Jones picked up two yards on 2nd down, but Widing was sacked for a 6-yard loss by Brockhoff on the following play. After a timeout by Willamette and two timeouts by Whitworth, Derby kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.

Although both teams struggled on offense, Willamette appeared to have a big play with about 8:30 left in the game, when Knecht caught a 44-yard bomb from Widing to the Whitworth 21. The play was wiped out by a penalty for an ineligible man downfield.

Statistics for the Bearcats and the Pirates

Overall, Willamette was flagged for 10 penalties -- mostly on offense -- totaling 71 yards. Whitworth had four penalties for 45 yards -- all in the second period.

The Bearcats also committed four turnovers on one interception and three fumbles lost. The Pirates also had four turnovers, as Peterson threw three interceptions and Willamette recovered one fumble.

Willamette gained 328 total yards, while Whitworth finished with 257 yards. Thomas of Whitworth was the top ground gainer, with 24 carries for 72 yards. Turner earned 63 yards on 10 carries for the Bearcats.

Peterson was 8 of 15 passing for 95 yards and one touchdown. Widing completed 14 of 24 passes for 122 yards and one score. Ehlo topped all receivers with 83 yards on pass plays, as he hauled in four passes for the Pirates. Knecht topped the Bearcats with five catches for 59 yards.

Ehlo averaged 41.4 yards on seven punts for Whitworth. His kicks included a 68-yard and a 56-yarder. Galvan achieved 59 yards on four punt returns for Willamette, while Giza gained 69 yards on three kickoff returns.

Ryan Loutsis (So., WLB) led the Pirates with 13 tackles, while teammate Jonathan Allan (Fr., DE) added 10 tackles. Willamette's Jaden Roselli (So., ILB, Santa Rosa, CA/Santa Rosa HS) and Wes Wenzel (Jr., ILB, Portland, OR/Sunset HS) each tallied 8 tackles. Cullen Carroll (Jr. OLB, Petaluma, CA/St. Vincent de Paul HS) earned 6 tackles (5 solo) for the Bearcats.

Carroll was one of three Willamette players with a sack. Other Bearcats with a sack were Bourke for 12 yards and Harmon Bruno (Sr., OLB, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) for 15 yards. In addition to the interception by Pastorino, the Bearcats had interceptions by Giza and Dominic David (Jr., S, Salem, OR/South Salem HS/Portland State Univ.).

Up Next for Willamette

The Bearcats will take on undefeated Lewis & Clark College on Saturday, Nov. 5 in Portland, Ore. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (PDT). L&C, which rallied past Pacific Lutheran University for a 34-32 win on Saturday, is 7-0 overall, 4-0 in the NWC.

Whitworth University 25
Willamette University 24 (2 OT)
Jake Turner scored on a 23-yard run in the second overtime.

Jake Turner scored on a 23-yard run in the second overtime.