Football Focus: Weischedel Scores Touchdown with Spectacular Catch

Willamette Tight End Earns 12 Receptions in Bearcats' First Two Games

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette senior tight end Benny Weischedel (Sr., TE, San Pedro, CA/San Pedro HS) made a spectacular catch for the Bearcats' first touchdown at McCulloch Stadium on Friday, Sept. 14 in a 38-24 victory over East Texas Baptist University. Weischedel, 6'2", 230 pounds, caught the pass underneath the goal post in double coverage to give WU a 7-0 lead with 7:00 left in the first quarter. (See videos below)

It appeared that Weischedel had a defender draped over him for most of the play, but he was still able to get free to provide the thrilling end to a 7-play, 51-yard drive. It was Weischedel's second reception for a touchdown in Willamette's first two games.

The 7-yard touchdown catch came on the first play following a 28-yard pass from Josh Dean (Jr., QB, Dana Hills, CA/Dana Point HS) to Jake Turner (Sr., WR, Ontario, OR/Ontario HS) on 4th-and-7 from the ETBU 35-yard line.

Weischedel's touchdown created momentum that helped the Bearcats control the first half, as Willamette built a 28-3 lead over the first two quarters.

During the game, Weischedel caught 5 passes for 53 yards. He is listed second on Willamette's offensive statistics with 12 catches and 149 receiving yards. In addition, he's one of the reasons Willamette has averaged 183.5 rushing yards per game, including 94.0 yards per game by sophomore running back Dylan Jones (Santa Maria, CA/Ernest Righetti HS).

"Benny's strength is that he's physical enough to block people and he's really a chore when you have to tackle him. He's a great receiver," Willamette Head Coach Glen Fowles said.

Since the start of the 2011 season, Weischedel has become more and more of a factor on the Bearcats' offense. Last year, he contributed solid blocking and caught 7 passes for 102 yards, an average of 14.6 yards per carry.

This year, with Willamette averaging just over 45 passes per game, he has become an even greater threat as a receiver.

"What's made him really productive this year is his diligence in learning a new system and doing his job on a consistent basis," Fowles said. "He wants to do really well as a senior."

When Weischedel runs a passing pattern, he often creates a dilemma for the defense because of his size and power. In many cases, it means the defense has to remove a player from run coverage to defend the tight end.

"His ability to occupy either a defensive end or an inside linebacker is allowing us to have one or more backs get near 100 yards each game," Fowles noted.

With Turner catching 16 passes for 308 yards this season and Jake Knecht (Sr., WR, Issaquah, WA/Skyline HS/Illinois State Univ.) adding 11 catches for 116 yards, the Bearcats also have enough receiving threats to help Weischedel find open space on the field.

"They (defenders) have to make a choice on what to cover," Fowles said.

Although he finds significant space on many plays, he was closely covered -- with plenty of contact -- on the touchdown play against East Texas Baptist. He was strong enough to get a bit of separation at the last moment and yet was talented enough to make an acrobatic catch.

"On that particular play, they were trying to hold him down, but he's so strong," Fowles commented.

Fowles added that part of Weischedel's success has been achieved through hard work and consistently solid play. Another element of his success is that Weischedel is equally happy to be providing a key block or creating space for one of Willamette's wide receivers.

"His productivity goes up because he does his job, " Fowles said. "He's in the right place at the right time ... He's got such a great attitude. If he's not open, somebody else is."

Willamette is averaging 570.0 total yards per game. Weischedel is one of 10 Bearcats to catch at least one pass in the first two games. Dean has completed 59 of 89 passes for 774 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Up next for Willamette is a non-conference game against fellow Northwest Conference member Pacific University on Saturday, Sept. 22. Game time at McCulloch Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m. (PDT). The Bearcats and the Boxers will meet again in NWC action at Pacific on Oct. 20.

Benny Weischedel caught a pass in traffic at the back of the end zone to score Willamette's first touchdown in a 38-24 win over East Texas Baptist on Sept. 14.

Benny Weischedel caught a pass in traffic at the back of the end zone to score Willamette's first touchdown in a 38-24 win over East Texas Baptist on Sept. 14.

Photos by Naomi Stukey, photographer for Willamette Athletics

Photos by Naomi Stukey, photographer for Willamette Athletics