SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University junior wide receiver Beau Smith caught two touchdown passes, including a 36-yard reception for the winning score with 6:46 remaining, as the Bearcats defeated Sewanee: The University of the South, 33-28, on Saturday, Sept. 14 at McCulloch Stadium.
The Bearcats improved to 2-0 on the season, while Sewanee dropped to 1-1. Willamette quarterback Josh Dean (Sr., QB) completed 23 of 33 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns.
WU trailed 21-19 in the third quarter and 28-27 midway through the fourth period, but the Bearcats drove 61 yards in five plays to regain the lead for good.
Terrell Malley (Sr., RB/WR) opened the drive with a 6-yard run. On the second play, Dean threw a pass to Derek Traeger (Jr., WR, Mount Angel, OR/John F. Kennedy HS) for five yards and a first down at the midfield stripe.
Erik Baker (Fr., WR) rushed for three yards and then Dean tossed an 11-yard pass to Dylan Jones (Jr.) to move the ball to the Sewanee 36.
On the next play, Dean found Smith up the middle with a step on his defender. The pass was in front of Smith and at the edge of his reach, so when he lunged forward he wasn't able to make a clean catch. The ball barely popped out of his hands before he caught it in stride near the goal line. WU missed the two-point conversion, but held a 33-28 lead.
Following the kickoff, Sewanee took over at its own 25-yard line. The Tigers gained a first down on a 14-yard run by Andy Moots. The next two plays were runs by Moots for a total of seven yards, but a face mask penalty gave the Tigers a first down at the WU 39.
Moots rushed for six yards and a first down three plays later. The next two plays each gained two yards, before quarterback Cody Daniel was sacked for a two-yard loss by Tom Merkle (So., DE) at the WU 23.
On 4th-and-8, Daniel passed toward Stephen Jackson on the right side, but Tyson Giza (Sr., ROV/CB) broke up the pass with 1:36 remaining to prevent a first down and end the Tigers' final threat.
Sewanee saved its last time-out in hopes of stopping Willamette on downs, but Jones rushed for 28-yards on 3rd-and-6 to run out the clock.
Willamette built a 19-7 lead in the first quarter.
After stopping Sewanee on three plays to open the game, WU took over at it's own 40 following a punt. Dean's first pass was incomplete, but he followed with a 19-yard toss to De'zhon Grace (Fr., WR). Two plays later, he hit Grace with an 18-yard pass to the Sewanee 15.
A pass to Jones covered seven yards, before Dean rushed for seven yards to the 1-yard line. Dean kept the ball again and scored the game's first touchdown. A two-point conversion attempt failed.
Sewanee answered with a 7-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown run by Moots. Callum Wishart kicked the extra point for a 7-6 lead with 8:12 left in the quarter.
WU punted for a touchback on its next possession, placing the Tigers at their own 20. A penalty on the first play resulted in 2nd-and-18. On 4th-and-10, a misplay on the snap forced punter Christian Biedenharn to run and he was tackled at the 25-yard line.
On the next play, Dean connected with Smith on a 25-yard scoring strike. Kyle Derby (Sr., PK/P) kicked the extra point, as WU earned a 13-7 lead.
The Bearcats limited Sewanee to five plays and then took over at the WU 21 following a 45-yard punt by Biedenharn.
Dean moved WU to the end zone in six plays, including a 17-yard pass to Traeger, a 13-yard pass to Malley and a 31-yard throw to Baker. Dean ended the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run. His pass failed on the conversion.
Willamette had possession for just 4:11 in the second quarter and 2:39 in the third quarter, as Sewanee gradually rallied.
The Tigers recorded the only points of the second quarter on a 4-yard fade pass from Daniel to Jackson. WU held a 19-14 lead at halftime.
Sewanee forced the Bearcats to punt early in the third quarter. On the ensuing possession, the Tigers drove 67 yards on 12 plays to take a 21-19 lead on a 1-yard run by quarterback Curtis Johnson and an extra point kick by Wishart with 6:49 on the clock.
Just nine seconds into the fourth quarter, Willamette started a possession at the WU 5-yard line. The Bearcats scored 13 plays later on a 32-yard pass from Dean to Baker to regain the lead.
Dean completed 6 of 8 passes on the drive. Baker scored the touchdown despite being held toward the end of the play at the 5-yard line. WU declined the penalty. After Dean hit Traeger on a two-point pass, Willamette led 27-21.
Sewanee answered with a 6-play, 74-yard drive. On 3rd-and-13 at the Sewanee 23. Powers Spencer rushed up the middle for 72 yards to the WU 5-yard line. Giza caught him from behind, and Spencer appeared to fumble, but the play was ruled dead. On 3rd-and-goal, Johnson scored on a 1-yard run. Wishart kicked the PAT and Sewanee led, 28-27.
Willamette scored its 33 points with just 17:41 of possession. The Bearcats amassed 435 yards on 60 plays. Traeger caught eight passes for 76 yards, while Baker hauled in four passes for 91 yards and Smith caught three passes for 66 yards. Malley led WU with 37 rushing yards on five carries.
Moots rushed 22 times for 122 yards and Johnson added 92 yards on 21 carries for Sewanee. Daniel completed 4 of 5 passes for 27 yards. The Tigers gained 378 rushing yards and 405 total yards with 42:19 of possession.
The Bearcats were led on defense by Jack Nelson (Jr., ILB) with 12 tackles, including nine unassisted tackles. Brendan Manion (Jr., OLB) provided 11 total tackles. Quentin Jones topped Sewanee's defense with eight tackles.
Willamette does not play next weekend. The Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 28 at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CDT)/5 p.m. (PDT).