FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- Sophomore running back Dylan Jones scored for Willamette University on a 1-yard run with 27 seconds remaining, as the Bearcats rallied past Pacific University for a 35-31 Northwest Conference win on Saturday, Nov. 3. The Bearcats drove 76 yards on 10 plays for the winning score on a drive that began with 2:26 left.
Willamette improved to 7-2 on the season, 3-2 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific fell to 3-5 on the season 2-3 in the NWC.
Pacific returned the ensuing kickoff to the 50-yard line and reached the Willamette 25 two plays later. On 1st-and-10 with five seconds left, Pacific quarterback P.J. Minaya was intercepted by Tyson Giza (Jr., CB) at the 10-yard line, as Willamette secured the win. It was Giza's second interception of the game.
Willamette's game-winning drive started simply enough with a 3-yard pass from quarterback Josh Dean (Jr.) to Terrell Malley (Jr., HB), who stepped out of bounds at the WU 27. Jake Turner (Sr., WR) followed with a 10-yard catch and went out of bounds, allowing WU to save its last timeout.
On 1st-and-10 at the WU 37, Dean rushed for six yards. After two incomplete passes, Dean ducked away from a pass rush on 4th-and-4 and completed a 22-yard pass to Malley to the Pacific 35.
A 6-yard pass from Dean to Jake Knecht (Sr., WR), plus a personal foul on the Boxers at the end of the play, moved the ball to the Pacific 14.
Dean scrambled for four yards on first down and then Willamette used its remaining timeout. Dean threw an incomplete pass, before hitting Turner on a 9-yard toss to the 1-yard line.
As WU set up to quickly snap the ball, the Boxers called timeout. When play resumed, Jones rushed the final yard for his third touchdown of the day. Kyle Derby (Jr., PK/P) kicked the extra point, giving Willamette a 35-31 lead.
Willamette gained 486 yards of total offense, while Pacific achieved 464 yards. The Bearcats rushed 36 times for 171 yards and four touchdowns. Pacific earned 110 rushing yards on 36 carries.
Dean was 22 of 43 passing for 315 yards and one touchdown. Minaya ended the game 25 of 46 in the air for the Boxers, as he threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns.
Malley had an outstanding game for the Bearcats. He carried the ball 12 times for 87 yards and one score, and also caught 7 passes for 104 yards and one TD. Dean added 52 rushing yards on 16 carries. Jones rushed six times for 24 yards and three short touchdowns covering 1 yard, 5 yards and 1 yard.
Joining Malley with over 100 yards receiving was Knecht, who hauled in 6 passes for 119 yards, including a 51-yard catch. Pacific receiver Caleb Roher caught a game-high 8 passes for 123 yards and Jacob Lawrence of Pacific brought in 5 passes for 112 yards.
The Bearcats scored first on the opening possession of the game, marching 67 yards on nine plays. Late in the drive, Willamette overcame 2nd-and-15 at the Pacific 21 when Dean rushed for 13 yards on second down, and then completed a 7-yard pass to Benny Weischedel (Sr., TE) on third down. Jones scored the first of his three touchdowns on the next play on a 1-yard run.
Pacific tallied the next 17 points. The Boxers tied the score at 7-7 when Minaya hit Roher with a 68-yard scoring strike at the 1:11 mark of th first quarter. Pacific added a 36-yard touchdown from Minaya to Lawrence on the Boxers' second possession of the second quarter. The drive lasted nine plays after Brandon Harms intercepted Dean at the Pacific 23.
Willamette reached the Pacific 28 on its next drive, but turned the ball over on downs with 1:58 left in the half. The Boxers advanced to the WU 6-yard line, before a sack by Ben Lyons (Sr., DE) backed up Pacific to the 14. An offensive holding penalty on the next play led to 3rd-and-goal at the 24. On fourth down, Moses Villareal-Gomez kicked a 41-yard field goal to end the half.
On the third play of the third quarter, Giza registered his first interception of the game on a long pass to give WU the ball at the Willamette 41. Nine plays later, Willamette had to punt, but Derby's 42-yarder pinned the Boxers at their own 1-yard line. Four plays later, Chad Pollard (Sr., HB) returned a punt 11 yards to the Pacific 36.
The possession led to a 19-yard touchdown pass from Dean to Malley with 6:43 left in the third quarter. Derby's extra point kick pulled WU within 17-14.
After holding Pacific without a first down, the Bearcats drove 72 yards on 10 plays to take a 21-17 lead. The drive included a 20-yard run by inside linebacker Wes Wenzel (Sr.) on 4th-and-16 at the Pacific 49. Dean threw a 27-yard pass to Weischedel two plays later and Jones tacked on a 5-yard run to reach the end zone.
Late in the third quarter, Willamette used a 14-yard pass to Knecht and a 17-yard run by Malley to set up the next score. Malley completed the drive with a 6-yard scoring jaunt with 14:26 remaining in the game. Following the PAT, Willamette led 28-17.
Pacific responded with a pair of lengthy touchdown drives to regain the lead. Minaya threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Kelson Kawai at the end of a 10-play, 80-yard drive with 10:08 left. The drive included a 12-yard run by punter Aaron Koford on 4th-and-8 at the Pacific 48. A two-point conversion attempt failed when Minaya threw an incomplete pass.
When Pacific got the ball back with 8:30 to go, the Boxers drove 63 yards on 15 plays, with Deven McKinney catching a 1-yard pass from Minaya for a touchdown with 2:32 remaining. Minaya passed to Jack Michels on the conversion for two points and a 31-28 Pacific lead.
Willamette answered with its game-winning drive.
The Bearcats will conclude the season on Saturday, Nov. 10 when they host the University of Puget Sound. Game time at McCulloch Stadium is scheduled for 4 p.m. (PDT).