SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University built a 28-3 halftime lead over East Texas Baptist University on Friday, Sept. 14, but saw the margin dwindle to 11 points early in the fourth quarter. With 6:20 left and Willamette still leading 35-24, the Bearcats went on a 15-play, 76-yard drive to set up a clinching field goal with one minute remaining, as WU defeated the Tigers, 38-24.
Willamette improved to 2-0 on the season. East Texas Baptist fell to 1-2.
Jake Turner (Sr., WR) caught 11 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns for Willamette. Kwame' Spikes of ETBU hauled in 14 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
Willamette running back Dylan Jones (So.) led all rushers with 22 carries for 94 yards and one touchdown. He has rushed for 94 yards in both games this season.
The teams combined for 10 turnovers, including nine miscues in the second half. Willamette's turnovers limited the Bearcats' ability to put the game away, despite scoring first in the second half or a 35-3 lead. For ETBU, the turnovers got in the way of an attempted comeback.
In contrast, Willamette created key plays on offense throughout the first two quarters.
On the Bearcats' second possession, WU faced 4th-and-7 at the Tigers' 35-yard line. Josh Dean (Jr., QB) provided the first down with a 28-yard pass to Turner.
Dean tossed a lob pass deep into the end zone on the next play as he was pressured up the middle. Benny Weischedel (Sr., TE) made an exceptional catch underneath the goal post in double coverage to give WU a 6-0 lead. Kyle Derby (Jr., PK/P) converted the extra point with 7:00 left in the first quarter.
Later in the opening period, WU took over at the ETBU 47. On 3rd-and-11, Dean connected with Jones for a 12-yard pass. Four plays later, Dean hit Turner for a 23-yard strike down the sideline, moving WU within two yards of the end zone. Jones carried the ball across the goal line on first down.
The Tigers drove from their own 30 after the kickoff, and eventually gained 1st-and-Goal at the WU 6. Toi Glover gained five yards on first down. Glover was stopped by Scott Miller (Sr., DE) for a 1-yard loss on second down. Hubbard threw an incomplete pass on third down. Brian Nolan kicked a 19-yard field goal with 10:35 left in the half.
Willamette tacked on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Dean to Turner with 7:52 remaining in the second quarter. When the Bearcats took over again -- following a punt of negative-9 yards by ETBU -- Dean took over for a 9-play, 52-yard drive. Michael Hernandez (Jr., RB) scored on a 16-yard screen pass from Dean with 3:43 on the clock.
After WU advance the lead to 35-3 in the third quarter, the Tigers started to rally. Hubbard threw a 21-yard scoring strike to Roy Denbow at the 6:11 mark of the third quarter. Nolan missed the extra point kick.
Late in the third period, a 37-yard punt by Cory McNeil pinned WU at its own 1-yard line. The Tigers recorded a safety on the next play, as Jones was tackled in the end zone by Ja'Kory Hunter. Willamette led 35-11.
On the ensuing free kick, Roy Butler provided ETBU with a 26-yard return to the WU 45. Nine plays later, Hubbard and Spikes combined on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
The Bearcats committed one of their four second-half fumbles three plays later. Hubbard led the Tigers on a 6-play, 42-yard drive that culminated in a 27-yard pass to Spikes for touchdown with 12:55 still remaining to be played. Cody Pastorino (Sr., S, Glenn, CA/Willows HS) of WU blocked the PAT, leaving the Bearcats in front, 35-24.
WU ate up 3:32 with a 10-play drive, but stalled at the East Texas Baptist 40 and Derby punted. Fumbles killed each team's next possession as ETBU lost the ball at its own 33 and Willamette gave the ball back at the ETBU 22.
The game-clinching drive by the Bearcats started at their own 21 with 6:20 left. Dean opened the drive with a shovel pass to Turner gained 20-yards. The Bearcats kept the ball for 5:26 converted three third-down plays, including one on offside call against ETBU.
After obtaining 1st-and-Goal at the Tigers' 3-yard line on a 15-yard shovel pass to Turner, the Bearcats almost lost the ball. Dylan Maxwell forced Dean to fumble on a boot-leg toward the left sideline and the ball went out of play. On fourth down, Derby kicked a 19-yard field goal for the final score.
ETBU tried one last time to score, using passes of 4, 14 and 5 yards to reach the WU 41. After a false start penalty, Hubbard was intercepted on a long pass by Dominic David (Sr., S). David also intercepted Hubbard on the third play of the game.
Dean finished 28 of 42 passing for 306 yards and four touchdowns. Turner's 11 catches led the way, while Weischedel hauled in 5 passes for 53 yards and Jones earned 3 catches for 33 yards.
Hubbard completed 29 of 52 passes for 317 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Spikes topped the receiving corps with his 14 catches. Denbow added 7 receptions for 90 yards and one score.
The Willamette defense earned three interceptions, recovered two fumbles and achieved three quarterback sacks. In addition to the two pick-offs by David, the Bearcats also received an interception from Tait Stephens (Jr., S).
Stevens and Cullen Carroll (Sr., OLB) tied for the team lead with 7 tackles. Pastorino blocked two kicks -- a field goal and an extra point -- and achieved five tackles.
Jordan Hays led ETBU with 11 tackles, including two tackles for losses and one sack. Mark Gray registered nine tackles. Chris Frazier earned six tackles and recovered two fumbles.
Willamette will return to action next Saturday, Sept. 22, with a home game against Pacific University. Game time at McCulloch Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m. (PDT).