SALEM, Ore. – In the first of two meetings between the programs this season, Willamette took advantage of a rash of Pacific turnovers Saturday to break away from a close first quarter to score a 51-17 victory over the Boxers in football action at McCullough Stadium.
The Boxers (1-2) finished with six turnovers on the afternoon, four of which led to Willamette touchdowns in the second and third quarters. The opportunities allowed the Bearcats (3-0), under first year coach Glen Fowles, to show off their new potent passing game. Willamette finished with 559 yards of total offense, 448 of which came in the air.
Pacific returned to the passing game as well after gaining the majority of their offense two weeks ago on the ground. Quarterback P.J. Minaya (Jr., Wahiawa, Hawaii) threw of 260 of the Boxers' 360 yards, completing 22 of 36 passes and one touchdown, but was intercepted four times. Darin Kamealoha (So., Waipahu, Hawaii) was Minaya's top target, finishing with 112 yards on six catches.
Willamette quarterback Josh Dean completed 33 of 46 passes for 353 yards and four touchdown while Jake Jones completed 7 of 11 for 95 yards and a score. Jake Kencht led 13 Bearcats' receivers to catch balls with 106 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions.
The Bearcats' made the most of the first possession of the game with a one-yard Dean run capping an 11-play, 72-yard drive. Likewise, Pacific drove into the red zone on their first possession, but came up scoreless as Moses Villareal-Gomez (So., Stockton, Ore.) missed a 26-yard field goal. The kicker earned redemption after a Willamette three-and-out, connecting on a 23-yarder with 2:35 left in the first quarter to make it a 6-3 game.
Willamette would then score on their next three possessions to break the game open. Kyle Derby opened the second quarter with a 30-yard field goal. An interception by Dominic David at the 11:18 mark gave the Bearcats the ball on the Pacific 17-yard line. Dean needed just four plays to march Willamette to the score, with a 22-yard pass to Dylan Jones making it a 15-3 lead.
The Bearcats' offense was back on the field right away with the Boxers fumbling just two plays into the ensuing possession and used six plays to march 32 yards before Jones rushed three yards for his second touchdown of the game with 7:12 to go in the half. Ladiges accounted for Pacific's first touchdown on the game, capping a 10-play drive that took over five minutes that allowed the Boxers within 23-10 at halftime.
After Pacific went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half, Willamette posted the first of their two third quarter touchdowns when Dean found Kencht for a short one-yard scoring reception to extend the lead to 30-10. After the second interception of the period, Dean finished off a three-play drive with a 44-yard touchdown bomb to Benny Weischedel to make it a 37-10 Willamette lead with 6:46 remaining in the quarter.
Dean rushed in himself for the first fourth quarter score and the Bearcats' third in a row, scampering four yards for a 44-10 game. Pacific finally found the end zone again on their next possession with Minaya capping the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jakob Lawrence (So., Sherwood, Ore.). Willamette added one more score with Jones finding Beau Smith for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 3:53 left.
Josh Brinkworth (So., Elk Grove, Calif.) led Pacific defensively for the third straight game with 11 tackles and an interception. Brandon Harms (So., Canby, Ore.) and Austin Brown (So., Klamath Falls, Ore.) each had seven tackles. The defense had four sacks on Dean and forced two fumbles. Jack Nelson and Ben Lyons had eight tackles each to lead Willamette.
Pacific opens Northwest Conference play at home next Saturday as the Boxers celebrate homecoming by hosting Whitworth. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. A live audio and video webcast will be available at goboxers.com. The game will also air live in the Portland area on 1360 AM KUIK.