Box Score | Coach Buckley's Postgame Comments | Highlight: Flea Flicker TD
FOREST GROVE – Dylan Jones's 1-yard touchdown run capped a critical two-minute drill in the fourth quarter, giving Willamette a come-from-behind 35-31 victory over Pacific in Northwest Conference football action at Lincoln Park Stadium.
After losing their halftime lead on 21 unanswered points by the Bearcats in the first 16 minutes of the second half, Pacific rallied to take a 31-28 lead on a 1-yard pass from P.J. Minaya (So., Wahiawa, Hawaii) to Deven McKinney (So., Spanaway, Wash.) with 2:32 remaining. Willamette charged down field quickly, converting a fourth down play at midfield and taking advantage of a Pacific personal foul call to set up Jones' game-winning touchdown run with 27 seconds left.
A 35-yard return kickoff return by Kelson Kawai (Jr., North Kohala, Hawaii) to midfield gave the Boxers three chances at the end zone, but the Boxers' pass plays came up short.
Despite the loss, Pacific Head Coach Keith Buckley said the game showed how far the program has come from the beginning of the season to now. Willamette blew out the Boxers 51-17 in the third game of the season in Salem on Sept. 22.
"Willamette is a good team and they played a good game," Buckley said. "For us to play them at that level is something that we have to take some positives from. We had chances and we didn't make those plays to finish out at the end. It's going to hurt and it will hurt for a long time because we have to wait another year before we get another crack at them. But there are things we are happy about."
Minaya completed 25 of 46 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns as the Boxers (3-5, 2-3 NWC) finished with 464 yards of total offense. Caleb Roher (So., Gresham, Ore.) caught eight passes for 123 yards and a touchdown while Jakob Lawrence (So., Sherwood, Ore.) had five receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. Pacific picked up 110 yards on the ground, led by 52 yards from Bobby Ladiges (So., Escalon, Calif.).
Josh Dean led Willamette (7-3, 3-2 NWC) by completing 22 of 43 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown with the Pacific defense sacking him three times. Terrell Malley caught seven passes for 104 yards and the Bearcats' only receiving touchdown, while Jake Knecht had six catches for 119 yards. Malley also carried 12 times for 87 yards and a touchdown while Jones scored three rushing scores. The Bearcats finished the afternoon with 486 yards of total offense.
Willamette needed just four minutes to score off of their opening drive, doing most of their damage on the ground. The Bearcats rushed 45 of their 67 yards on the drive, with Jones ending it with a 1-yard run to put the Bearcats ahead 7-0.
The defenses held strong on a pair of long drives before the Boxers got on the board. Minaya did it with a long bomb that has become his trademark over the last two weeks, finding Roher for a 68-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 left that tied the game 7-7.
The Pacific defense stopped a long Willamette drive to open the second quarter when Brandon Harms (So., Canby, Ore.) intercepted Dean at the Pacific 23-yard line. That set up an amazing flea flicker play that saw Minaya scoop to Schultze, who lateraled to Minaya, who then found Jakob Lawrence for a 36-yard touchdown pass to make it a 14-7 game with 4:51 left.
Willamette saw it's next series stopped on the Pacific 28-yard line, and the Boxers took advantage as Minaya led the Boxers 48 yards to set up a season-long 41-yard field goal by Moses Villareal-Gomez (So., Stockton, Calif.) as time expired that sent the Boxers into the locker room with the 17-7 halftime lead. The kick was the 15th of his Pacific career, which eclipsed the previous career record of 14 kicked by Willie Brosseau between 1976 and 1979.
Willamette came out with a renewed energy in the second half on both sides of the ball. The Bearcats' defense did not allow the Boxers a first down in the stanza and limited the Pacific offense to just 12 yards. After stunting the Boxers on their first two series of the half, Willamette came through with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Dean to Malley that gave Willamette their first lead of the game, 17-14, at the 6:42 mark.
After a quick three-and-out on Pacific's next series, the Bearcats drove 72 yards with Jones scoring again on a five-yard run with 3:23 left in the quarter to make it a 21-17 game. Willamette tallied again less than a minute into the fourth quarter with Malley rushing in from six yards out for his second score and put the Bearcats up 28-17.
Pacific's offense found life in the fourth quarter when they needed it most. Minaya drove the Boxers 80 yards on their first fourth quarter possession, scoring when he found Kawai for a 12-yard score to come within 28-23. The Boxers then benefited by a short punt to gain good field position to take the lead. Taking over at their own 37-yard line, Minaya marched the Boxers 63 yards in 6 minutes, 4 seconds, which ended with the 1-yard pass to McKinney to set up the excitement of the final three minutes.
Josh Brinkworth (So., Elk Grove, Calif.) and Tim Hastie (Jr., Auberry, Calif.) each finished with nine tackles to lead the Boxers defensively, with Hastie finishing with a sack and two tackles for loss. Wes Wenzel led Willamette with 10 tackles while Juan Alvarado had two tackles for loss.
Pacific will wrap up the 2012 season on the road against their toughest opponent of the season as they travel to McMinnville on Saturday to play No. 3 ranked Linfield. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. A live audio webcast will be available at goboxers.com/webcasts. Willamette will wrap up their season at home on Saturday against Puget Sound.