SALEM, Ore. -- Junior quarterback Josh Dean threw for five touchdowns and ran for another, helping Willamette University pull away from Lewis & Clark College, 56-20, on Saturday, Oct. 13 at McCulloch Stadium. Willamette gained 657 total yards against the Pioneers.
Dean's five scoring passes allowed him to set a Willamette single season record with 27 touchdown passes. The previous record of 26 was set by current WU linebacker coach John Horner while playing quarterback for the Bearcats in 1993.
Willamette, ranked #24 in the NCAA Division III Coaches Poll released by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), improved to 6-0 on the season, 2-0 in the Northwest Conference. Lewis & Clark fell to 4-2 overall, 1-2 in the NWC.
Against L&C, Dean completed 35 of 45 passes for 359 yards and the five scores. He has thrown for at least four touchdown passes in every game so far this season. He also ran 10 times for 37 yards and one touchdown.
Jake Knecht (Sr., WR) recorded three of Willamette's touchdown catches on Saturday, as he finished with 9 receptions for 107 yards. Benny Weischedel (Sr., TE) caught 9 passes for 118 yards.
WU running back Dylan Jones (So.) contributed 168 rushing yards on 24 carries. He scored the first touchdown of the game on a 37-yard run with 13:13 left in the opening quarter. Overall, the Bearcats rushed for 273 yards on 38 carries.
Lewis & Clark quarterback Keith Welch was 27 of 53 passing for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Connor Imel hauled in 8 of the passes for 109 yards, while Jacob Costantino caught 5 passes for 106 yards. Welch also added 81 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Willamette inside linebacker Jack Nelson (So.) led all players with 18 total tackles, including 10 unassisted stops.
After the touchdown by Jones, the Bearcats added their second score later in the first quarter on a shovel pass from Dean to Knecht. The play covered 10 yards and gave WU a 14-0 lead after Kyle Derby (Jr., PK/P) kicked the extra point.
The game's momentum seemed to swing on two special teams plays.
Early in the second quarter, L&C was forced to punt at its own 40-yard line. The punt by Colin Seitz was blocked by Willamette's Cody Pastorino (Sr., S), who also picked up the ball at the L&C 13-yard line and eluded the Pioneers on his way to the end zone.
The blocked punt counted, but the return was wiped out by a holding penalty at the L&C 44. WU took over at it's own 46-yard line after the penalty was recorded.
Two plays later, Dean was intercepted by Jon Bielawicz at the L&C 47. He returned the ball seven yards. Six plays later, L&C scored on a 34-yard pass from Welch to Costantino with 9:37 left in the half. In a close call near the end zone, it was ruled that the ball crossed the goal line before Costantino fumbled it into -- and out of -- the end zone. Simon Monley kicked the extra point to pull L&C within 14-7.
After stopping WU on downs 7 plays later at the L&C 27-yard line, the Pioneers took over again. They drove 73 yards on eight plays, and completed the drive with an 8-yard pass from Welch to Connor Imel. The conversion kick tied the game at 14-14 with 2:29 left in the half. Lewis & Clark kept the score tied until halftime by stopping Willamette two more times on downs after the Bearcats reached the L&C 28 and the L&C 16.
The second momentum-changing special teams play was at the end of Lewis & Clark's drive to open the second half and followed three consecutive big plays by the WU defense.
During the drive, the Pioneers maintained possession for 13 plays and 47 yards, advancing from their own 28 to the WU 7. Two rushed by Curtis Shirey lost a combined seven yards, and on third down Welch was sacked for an 11-yard loss. On 4th-and-goal from the WU 25, Monley attempted a 42-yard field goal.
The kick was short and was grabbed in front of the end line at the back of the end zone by WU cornerback Tyson Giza (Jr.). Giza returned the ball 62 yards to the L&C 38-yard line.
Willamette combined four runs by Jones for a total of 20 yards with two pass completions by Dean to cash in on Giza's return. Dean threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Mike Hernandez (Jr., RB) to finish the drive, as the Bearcats took a 21-14 lead. Hernandez has caught a touchdown pass in five of Willamette's six games.
Lewis & Clark was forced to punt six plays later. Willamette took over at its own 14 and drove 86 yards on eight plays to increase the lead to 28-14. Jones carried four times for 34 yards during the drive, while Dean completed 4 of 4 passes. Dean ended the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Knecht in the corner of the end zone with 4:07 remaining in the third quarter.
Willamette continued to pull away with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Dean scored on a 1-yard run with 10:41 left in the game. The next touchdown was a 29-yard pass by Dean that Knecht caught while being closely defended in the end zone. Dean tied the WU regular season record o the play with 9:16 remaining.
Less than two minutes later, Chad Pollard (Sr., HB) scored on a 3-yard shovel pass from Dean, giving Dean the single season record outright.
After Imel registered his second touchdown of the day for L&C on a 46-yard pas from Welch at the 4:55 mark, the Bearcats concluded the scoring with a 3-yard run by Taylor Wyman (So., RB) with 3:04 to go. Wyman had a nifty 27-yard run earlier in the 5-play, 74-yard drive.
Willamette's defense featured three players with eight or more tackles. Nelson led the way with his 18 tackles, while Cullen Carroll (Sr., OLB) provided nine tackles. Matt Parr (Sr., ILB) added eight tackles. Joe Kopp (Sr., S) led Lewis & Clark with 10 tackles, including eight solo stops. Clay Israelson (Sr., DB) supplied nine tackles for the Pioneers.
The Bearcats will play their next game on Saturday, Oct. 20 against Pacific Lutheran University. Game time in Puyallup, Wash., is set for 12:30 p.m. (PDT).