Abilene, Texas -- Willamette junior quarterback Josh Dean tied a school record with 6 touchdown passes in his first start to lead the Bearcats to a 58-34 victory on the road at Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) on Saturday, Sept. 1. Dean threw for 468 yards as he barely missed the Willamette record for passing yards in a game (473).
Dean completed 31 of 47 passes to help the Bearcats win their first game under new Head Coach Glen Fowles and new offensive coordinator Brian Sheppard. Five different players caught touchdown passes for Willamette, with Jake Turner scoring on two receptions.
The WU touchdown passing record was previously set by former quarterback -- and current Bearcat linebacker coach -- John Horner ('94), who threw for 6 TDs against Lewis & Clark College on Oct. 23, 1993. The record of 473 passing yards was set by Todd Simis against Simon Fraser on Oct. 27, 1990.
Against Hardin-Simmons on Saturday, Willamette also rushed for 260 yards on 49 carries and scored two touchdowns on the ground. Dylan Jones scored on a 63-yard pass and a 7-yard run. Terrell Malley scored on a 45-yard run.
Malley finished with 96 rushing yards on 5 carries. Jones rushed for 94 yards on 22 carries.
WU amassed 727 total yards, just 11 yards short of the school record.
Dean put Willamette's offensive in gear quickly, leading the Bearcats on a 10-play, 82-yard drive to open the game. He threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Turner to complete the drive. WU held a 7-0 lead with 11:31 left in the first quarter.
The 63-yard scoring strike to Jones increased the lead to 14-0 with 10:17 remaining in the half. The catch ended a 5-play, 80-yard drive.
Hardin-Simmons kick returner Jessie Ramos brought back the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The extra point kick failed.
Three plays later, Dean was intercepted on a short pass by Jonathan Petty, who returned the ball 30 yards for a touchdown. Scott Newberry kicked the PAT to pull the Cowboys within 14-13.
With its lead down to a single point, the Willamette offense responded by driving 76 yards in 11 plays and taking 4:39 off the clock. Jones registered his 7-yard rushing touchdown to complete the offensive surge. The Bearcats held a 21-13 margin.
Late in the half, Hardin-Simmons faced 3rd-and-12 at its own 10-yard line. Quarterback Logan Turner connected with Devin Carver for a 10-yard gain, but Wendell Galvan forced and recovered a fumble at the HSU 20. WU took over with 1:19 on the clock.
Four plays later, Kyle Derby kicked a 30-yard field goal, but Hardin-Simmons was called for a personal foul on the play. Willamette accepted the penalty, which moved the ball half the distance to the goal line, giving WU a first down at the HSU 7.
Jones rushed for one yard on first down. On second down, Dean hit Mike Hernandez with a 5-yard touchdown strike. Derby's extra point kick gave the Bearcats a 28-13 lead with 26 seconds left in the half.
After limiting HSU to three plays and a punt to open the second half, the Bearcats took over at their own 33-yard line. Eight plays later, Dean connected with Benny Weischedel for a 37-yard touchdown pass -- Dean's fourth of the game. A pass on the conversion failed, but WU held a 34-13 lead.
The Cowboys drove 55 yards to the Willamette 18-yard line on the ensuing possession. Tevin Mitchell began the drive with runs of 17 and 18 yards. Several plays later, on 4th-and-15 at the WU 18, Logan Turner was intercepted by Jack Nelson, who returned the pick-off 32 yards.
On the next play, Dean and Jake Turner hooked up on a 46-yard pass deep into HSU territory. Dean covered the remaining 11 yards with a pass to Jake Knecht . Derby kicked the PAT to increase WU's lead to 41-13.
Two quick scores allowed Hardin-Simmons to get back within 14 points. Logan Turner completed passes of 12 yards to Mitchell, 30 yards to Corey Jones and 28 yards to Patrick Flanagin to cover 70 yards on a 73-yard drive to set up the first score. Mitchell earned the TD on a 3-yard run.
The second scoring drive was set up by an interception by Tyler Tennerson that gave HSU the ball at the Willamette 30. Logan Turner threw a 25-yard pass to Corey Jones before Mitchell scored on a 5-yard run with 4:35 left in the third quarter. Willamette's lead was reduced to 41-27.
Derby added three points with a 27-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining in the quarter, but the Cowboys pulled within 44-34 when Trei Lewis hauled in a 40-yard pass from Turner.
It looked like Hardin-Simmons might get a chance to cut the lead even more when Willamette fumbled on its next snap from scrimmage. Reid Pride recovered the ball for HSU at the WU 25-yard line. On the next play, however, Mitchell fumbled at the end of an 8-yard run and Cullen Carroll regained possession for Willamette.
Dean tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jake Turner with 7:37 remaining to tie the Willamette single game record for touchdown passes. Malley's 45-yard touchdown run completed the scoring with 5:53 to go.
Top receiver for Willamette were Jake Turner with 5 catches for 135 yards, Knecht with 9 catches for 107 yards and Benny Weischedel with 7 receptions covering 96 yards. Nine Bearcats caught at least one pass.
Derby connected on 7 of 7 PATs to go along with his 27-yard field goal. He averaged 41.8 yards per punt, including a long of 54 yards.
Logan Turner was 21 of 36 passing for HSU. He threw for 248 yards and one touchdown, but had four interceptions. Corey Jones caught 5 passes for 89 yards to lead the Cowboys in receiving. Mitchell topped the running attack with 18 carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Cody Pastorino led the Willamette defense with seven total tackles, including two tackles for losses. He intercepted one pass. Also earning interceptions for the Bearcats were Nelson, Tyson Giza and Blaze Rogers.
Wes Wenzel of WU registered six total tackles. He recorded one of Willamette's four quarterback sacks.
James Place led HSU with 11 total tackles. He was one of four Cowboys with double-digit tackles during the game. Petty, Brandon Phillips, Dustin Emery each finished with 10 tackles.
Willamette does not play next weekend. The Bearcats will return to action with their home opener on Friday, Sept. 14 against East Texas Baptist University. Kickoff at McCulloch Stadium is set for 7 p.m. (PDT).