SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University gained 559 yards on offense and forced six turnovers on defense, as the Bearcats gradually pulled away from the Pacific University Boxers in a non-conference game at McCulloch Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22. With the win during Reunion Weekend, Willamette improved its record to 3-0 on the season. Pacific dropped to 1-2.
The teams will meet again on Saturday, Nov. 3 in a Northwest Conference game on the Pacific campus in Forest Groved, Ore.
WU quarterback Josh Dean (Jr.) threw for four touchdowns while completing 33 of 46 passes for 353 yards. He did not throw an interception.
Meanwhile, the Willamette secondary achieved four interceptions. Cody Pastorino (Sr., S) led the way with two pickoffs, while Dominic David (Sr., S,) and Tait Stephens (Jr., S) each recorded one.
Jake Knecht (Sr., WR) topped the Willamette receiving chart with 10 catches for 106 yards and one touchdown. He set a career-high for receptions, replacing his previous high of nine catches against Hardin-Simmons University in the season opener.
Against Pacific, Knecht caught nine passes from Dean and also hauled in one pass from back-up quarterback Jake Jones (Sr.). Jones was 7 of 11 for 95 yards, one TD and one interception.
Willamette led 6-3 after the first quarter and held a 23-10 advantage at halftime. The Bearcats added 14 points in the third quarter and tallied the first touchdown of the fourth quarter for a 44-10 lead. After Pacific scored its second touchdown of the game, Jones threw a touchdown pass to Beau Smith (So., WR) to complete the scoring.
In addition to Knecht, other top receivers for Willamette were Jake Turner (Sr., WR) and Chad Pollard (Sr., HB). Turner grabbed six catches for 76 yards and Pollard caught five passes for 33 yards.
Benny Weischedel (Sr., TE) caught the longest touchdown pass of the day, a 44-yard strike from Dean that gave WU a 37-10 lead with 6:46 left in the third quarter. Weischedel finished with three catches for 73 yards.
P.J. Minaya of Pacific was 22 of 36 passing for 260 yards and one touchdown, but was intercepted four times. Darin Kamealoha led the Boxers with six catches for 112 yards. Gunther Schultze added five catches for 39 yards.
Willamette opened the game with an 11-play, 17-yard drive for a touchdown.
The Bearcats picked up three first downs on third down during the drive, including 3rd-and-4 at the Pacific 8, when Dean hit Turner with a 7-yard pass. On the next play, Dean threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Mike Hernandez (Jr., RB) for a 6-0 lead. The extra point kick was blocked by Bryan Mills.
Pacific, which entered the game averaging 276.0 passing yards per game, ran six times on a 10-play drive following Willamette's opening touchdown. The Boxers advanced to the WU 9-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal attempt. The 26-yard kick by Moses Villareal-Gomez missed wide right.
On it's next possession, Pacific started at its own 45. Minaya connected with Kamealoha on 3rd-and-8 for 44 yards and a first down at the WU 4-yard line.
Willamette's defense stopped Bobby Ladiges for no gain on 1st-and-goal, held Ladiges for no gain on a completed pass on second down and tackled Schultze for a two-yard loss on third down. Villareal-Gomez kicked a 23-yard field goal to cut WU's lead to 6-3.
The Bearcats responded with a 13-play scoring drive that covered 64 yards. Kyle Derby (Jr., PK/P) converted a 30-yard field goal to complete the drive with 13:53 remaining in the half. Willamette held a 9-3 advantage.
Two plays after the kickoff, a 15-yard penalty against the Bearcats gave Pacific a 1st-and-10 at the WU 37. Minaya was sacked by Ben Lyons (Sr., DE) on first down. A shovel pass lost three more yards. On 3rd-and-21, Minaya was intercepted by David at the WU 33.
David returned the ball 35 yards to the Pacific 32, where a personal foul on the Boxers advanced the ball to the 17.
Despite a holding penalty on the first play, Willamette took advantage. On 3rd-and-15, Dylan Jones (So., RB) grabbed a screen pass and scampered 22-yard for the touchdown. The extra point kick failed, but WU held a 15-3 lead with 10:21 left in the half.
Two plays later, Wyatt Briggs (Jr., DE) of WU recovered a fumble by the Boxers, giving the Bearcats control just 32 yard from the end zone. On the sixth play of the drive, Dylan Jones scored on a 3-yard run. Dean completed a pass to Weischedel for two points on the conversion.
Pacific cut the lead to 23-10 at halftime with a 10-play, 85-yard drive. Ladiges carried the ball into the end zone from the 3-yard line with 1:40 on the clock. Villareal-Gomez kicked the PAT.
After holding Pacific to start the second half, the Bearcats drove for their fourth touchdown. WU appeared to score on the third play, a nifty 30-yard catch by Knecht in the corner of the end zone, but holding negated the play.
Passes to Terrell Malley (Jr., HB) moved the ball to the Pacific 19. On the next play, Dean threw a pass to Turner, who caught the ball, but had it knocked out seconds later at the 13-yard line.
The ball bounced off several players and headed toward the end zone. WU offensive lineman Keenan-Celtic Faatea (So., OG) recovered it at the 1-yard line. On second down, Dean threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Knecht with 10:36 on the clock. Derby kicked the PAT.
Weischedel's touchdown pass several minutes later extended the lead midway through the third quarter. WU increased its advantage to 44-10 when Dean crossed the goal line on a 4-yard run with 14:22 left in the game.
The Bearcats passed for 448 yards, as Dean and Jake Jones were a combined 40 of 57. Willamette added 111 rushing yards, led by Dylan Jones, who produced 47 yards on 15 carries. He also caught 4 passes for 43 yards.
Pacific achieved 260 yards through the air and rushed for 100 yards. Ladiges ran for 44 yards on 17 carries. On defense, Pacific was paced by safety Josh Brinkworth, who accumulated 11 total tackles, including eight solo stops.
For the WU defense, Lyons and Jack Nelson (So., ILB) recorded eight tackles apiece. Stevens, Jacob Meza (Jr., ILB) and Cullen Carroll (Sr., OLB) each earned six tackles.
The Bearcats have forced 17 turnovers in the first three games of the season, including 11 interceptions. Pastorino and David are tied for the team lead with three interceptions each.
Willamette will travel to Tennessee next weekend to take on Sewanee: University of the South on Saturday, Sept. 29. Game time is set for 1 p.m. (CDT)/11 a.m. (PDT).