SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University outscored Trinity University (Texas) 21-0 in the second half, as the Bearcats pulled away from the Tigers for a 34-10 victory in the season opener and Homecoming Game at McCulloch Stadium. The Bearcats held Trinity to less than 200 yards of offense until the final drive of the game.
The Bearcats moved to 1-0 on the season. Trinity, which lost to Howard Payne University (Texas) 30-27 last weekend, fell to 0-2 overall.
Dylan Jones (Sr., RB) topped Willamette's attack with 26 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his scores were achieved in the second half.
The game featured nine turnovers, as Trinity threw one interception and lost four fumbles, while Willamette committed two interceptions and lost two fumbles. Trinity quarterback Mason Blaschke connected on just one of his first 18 passes and finished the game 9 of 33 for 89 yards.
Willamette held a 13-10 lead at halftime and extended the margin late in the third quarter after stopping Trinity on 4th-and-2 at the WU 41. The Bearcats went on an 8-play, 60-yard drive that included a 30-yard pass from Trent Spallas (So., QB) to Ryan Foote (Jr., DB).
The pass to Foote came on 3rd-and-7 at the Trinity 45. Dylan Jones carried on the next three plays, gaining 12 yards and two yards before plowing into the end zone on a 1-yard rush. Conner Mertens (Fr., PK/P) kicked the extra point for a 20-13 lead with 1:20 left in the quarter.
WU kept Trinity in check on its next three possessions, forcing punts from inside the 30-yard line.
After the third stop, Bryan Toles (So., DB) returned the punt 55 yard to the end zone, but a penalty at the 3-yard line forced the Bearcats to take over at the Trinity 13. On 4th-and-4, Spallas connected with Austin Jones (So., WR) in the right flat for a 7-yard touchdown. Mertens' PAT gave WU a 27-10 edge.
Dylan Jones tallied his second touchdown with 3:05 remaining on the sixth play following a fumble recovery by Donny Torres (Jr., DB). The drive started at the Trinity 35-yard line Jones gained 26 yards on five carries during the drive.
Trinity drove 64 yards on 10 plays in the final minutes, but was stopped for a 2-yard loss on 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. After an incomplete pass on second down, quarterback Mason Blaschke was tackled for a 4-yard loss to end the game.
Neither team scored in the first quarter. Trinity scored early in the second quarter, when Desmond King rushed in from 4 yards out to complete a 10-play, 63-yard drive. Payton Kisor kicked the PAT.
WU was unable to get a first down on its next possession and punted. The kick by David Cheng (Jr., P/DB) was caught by Zachary Allen, who fumbled when he was hit by Beau Smith (Sr., WR). Jake Straube (Sr., OL) recovered for WU at the Trinity 17.
Dylan Jones rushed for 16 yards on the next play, and then Spallas threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Joe Mendoza (Sr., WR). Mertens tied the game 7-7 with the extra point.
On Willamette's next possession, the Bearcats drove 78 yards for their second score. Jones provided a big boost with a 31-yard carry on the second place, as WU moved onto Trinity's half of the field.
Two plays later, Spallas connected with Austin Jones for a 26-yard gain to the 18-yard line. On 3rd-and-7, Spallas hit Derek Traeger (Sr., WR, Mount Angel, OR/John F. Kennedy HS) for a 15-yard touchdown. A holding penalty on the extra point led to a re-kick, which Mertens missed.
Kisor had a 41-yard field goal blocked by Aric Burks (So., DL) with 50 seconds left in the half. The Tigers, however, got the ball back two plays later on a bad snap from the WU 33 that Trinity's Julian Turner recovered at the WU 13. Four plays later, Kisor converted on a 30-yard field goal, cutting WU's lead to 13-10.
Trinity's final drive allowed the Tigers to gain 247 total yards on 83 plays, while Willamette finished with 229 yards on 72 plays. Spallas was 14 of 28 passing for 126 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Traeger caught four passes for 35 yards and Beau Smith hauled in four passes for 14 yards.
Travis Williams gained 54 yards on 13 carries for Trinity. King caught three passes for 19 yards for the Tigers, while LeAndrew Gordon earned 49 yards on two catches.
Jack Nelson (Sr., ILB) led Willamette's staunch defense with nine tackles, including eight unassisted tackles. Brendan Manion (Sr., OLB) earned seven tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and one-half quarterback sack. He also forced a fumble.
Donny Torres earned five solo tackles, with one tackle for loss and two fumble recoveries. He returned one of the fumbles 25 yards. Cheng averaged 37.4 yards per punt with three punts inside the 20-yard line and one 52-yarder.
Turner and Connor Yorloff each provided 11 tackles for Trinity. Yorloff had three tackles for loss, one sack, and two pass break-ups.
Willamette will return to action next Saturday, Sept. 20, with a road game at California Lutheran University. Kickoff in Thousand Oaks, Calif., is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (PDT).