Pacific Lutheran Defeats Willamette in Defensive Battle, 13-6

Turner Catches 9 Passes for 99 Yards, Gains 40 Rushing Yards for Bearcats

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Pacific Lutheran University held Willamette University to just two field goals, as the Lutes defeated the Bearcats, 13-6, in a defensive battle at McCulloch Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12. The Lutes concluded their season at 6-3 overall, 4-2 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette ended the year with a 4-6 record, including 3-3 in the NWC.

The Lutes held just a 7-6 lead in the fourth quarter, but used the game's longest play, which began as a screen pass, to score a touchdown with 9:11 remaining. Kyle Warner recorded the touchdown on a 63-yard pass from quarterback Zack Halverson.

Willamette almost broke up the play twice before Warner scampered upfield. First, the Bearcats put significant pressure on Halverson, whose arm was hit slightly as he threw the ball. The ball still wound up near Warner, who made a quality catch. Immediately after Warner caught the ball, a Bearcat defender began to make a tackle, but Warner escaped and soon had an open path to the goal line.

The extra point attempt by Nick Kaylor hit straight onto the left upright and bounced out. Even so, PLU held a 13-6 advantage, which the Lutes retained the rest of the way.

At the start of the game, Willamette achieved only one first down on the opening possession, but still got into PLU territory. On 3rd-and-7 at the WU 35 Brian Widing (Jr., QB, Canby, OR/Canby HS) hit Jake Knecht (Jr., WR, Issaquah, WA/Skyline HS/Illinois State Univ.) for 18 yards to the PLU 47. Four plays later, Mitch Rowan (Sr., P/PK, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS) punted and pinned PLU inside the 20 at the 14-yard line.

Pacific Lutheran responded by driving 85 yards on 14 plays to score the game's first touchdown. The drive included a 26-yard pass from Halverson to Warner on 3rd-and-13 from the Lutes' 12-yard line, and also featured 19-yard passes to Warner and Tyler Bowen as the ball moved down the field. Halverson completed the drive with a 1-yard urn with 3:45 left in the first quarter.

The Bearcats gradually reduced the PLU lead, as sophomore place-kicker Kyle Derby (Oakdale, CA/Oakdale HS) kicked a 28-yard field goal with two seconds left in the first half and added a 19-yard field goal with 9:03 remaining in the third quarter.

Willamette almost put the ball into the end zone prior to both field goals.

At the end of the first half, WU had 1st-and-goal at the PLU 2. After Widing spiked the ball to stop the clock, the Bearcats sent Jake Turner (Jr., FL, Ontario, OR/Ontario HS) on a running play into the right side of the line. He was met quickly by PLU and fumbled the ball. Willamette recovered at the PLU 14, but had to spike the ball again to stop the clock, before Derby kicked the field goal.

Even so, the Bearcats trailed just 7-3 at the half. Derby's field goal finished a 12-play, 44-yard drive following a short punt. Widing completed a 10-yard pass to Taylor Wyman (Fr., TB, Bellevue, WA/Issaquah HS) during the drive and also completed passes of 14 yards and 15 yards to Turner. In addition, Widing had a 10-yard scramble that began with first down at the PLU 12.

On Willamette's first drive of the second half, the Bearcats earned 1st-and-goal at the 4-yard line prior to Derby's second field goal. The next three plays netted just one yard, leaving WU with 4th-and-goal at the three. Derby connected on the kick, but PLU still owned the lead, 7-6.

WU threatened again on its next possession which started with 3:12 left in the third quarter and continued into the final period.

The Bearcats drove from their own 21-yard line to the PLU 14. On 3rd-and-3, Widing was dropped for a 2-yard loss at the 16-yard line on a broken play. On fourth down, Derby attempted a 33-yard field goal that went wide left with 11:31 remaining in the game.

Willamette had two possessions following the lengthy touchdown by Warner of Pacific Lutheran. On the first possession, the Bearcats were unable to gain a first down and punted from the WU 43.

Pacific Lutheran ran six plays before the Bearcats forced a punt with just under three minutes left.

After the punt, WU drove from its own 22-yard line to the PLU 48, but had to battle the clock on the way. Willamette eventually ran out of downs when PLU recorded back-to-back sacks by Erik Magnussen and T.J. Suek. The second sack was recorded with just seven seconds remaining.

PLU achieved 321 total yards. Halverson completed 17 of 25 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown. Warner led the Lutes with eight receptions for 156 yards. Brandon James was PLU's top ground gainer with 13 carries for 55 yards.

Willamette ended the game with 309 yards of offense. Turner caught nine passes for 99 receiving and also carried the ball eight times for 40 yards. Widing connected on 18 of 26 passes for 156 yards. Josh Dean (So., WR/QB, Dana Point, CA/Dana Hills HS) was 1 of 2 passing for 24 yards.

Wyman topped Willamette's rushing attack, as he gained 43 yards on six carries.

Overall, the Lutes limited the Bearcats to 129 yards on 35m rushing attempts (3.7 avg.). Meanwhile, the WU defense allowed Pacific Lutheran only 79 rushing yards on 28 carries (2.8 avg.).

Jaden Rosselli (So., ILB, Santa Rosa, CA/Santa Rosa HS) of Willamette continued his strong play late in the season. He provided the Bearcats with 11 total tackles (6 solo), including two tackles for losses and one quarterback sack. He ended the year with 60 tackles, including 32 in the final three games.

Other top tacklers for WU were Wes Wenzel (Jr., ILB, Portland, OR/Sunset HS) and Cody Pastorino (Jr., S, Glenn, CA/Willows HS). Wenzel registered 9 tackles, including one sack. Pastorino accumulated 8 tackles, including 7 unassisted stops.

Adam Schwander (Sr., LB) supplied the Lutes with a team-high 10 tackles (7 unassisted). Justin Whitman (Sr., DB) added 8 tackles (5 unassisted).

Rowan averaged 38.0 yards on five punts with one punt inside the 20. Conor Lien of PLU punted four times and averaged 36.2 yards.

Neither team committed a turnover during the game. Willamette fumbled the ball three times, but kept possession after each miscue.


Pacific Lutheran University 13
Willamette University 6

Jake Turner rushed for 40 yards and earned 99 yards in pass receptions.

Jake Turner rushed for 40 yards and earned 99 yards in pass receptions.