Willamette, Jones keeping up

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Dylan Jones' 98-yard touchdown run ended up being the difference in Willamette's win vs. Linfield on Saturday.
Willamette athletics file photo

Dylan Jones just hopes Willamette can do it again. Beat the conference leader, that is.

Jones rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns – including a record-breaking 98-yard romp – to help Willamette defeat Linfield on Saturday. But the Bearcats don’t have much time to celebrate with a road game with Northwest Conference unbeaten Pacific up next on the schedule.

“That has to be the biggest win of my life so far,” Jones said after the Bearcats gave then-No. 5 Linfield its first loss of the season. “In the game, the energy on the sidelines was phenomenal. I’ve never been a part of a team with that much energy.

“Now we want Pacific. Now we want Puget Sound,” he added. “We’re still hungry for those other wins.”

Saturday’s win over Linfield has been the talk of campus because the Bearcats beat a top-five team and dropped the Wildcats from the top of the league standings.

“Obviously, there’s some excitement. There’s a buzz. Those are great things,” Willamette head coach Glen Fowles said. “It happens when you have the ability to beat somebody that you want to beat and you haven’t done so in a long, long time.”

As a matter of fact, it had been a long time since anyone in the Northwest Conference had defeated Linfield.

Willamette snapped Linfield’s 41-game regular season winning streak, which included 38 straight wins in conference play. The Wildcats had also won 25 regular season games in a row at Maxwell Field.

“I had no clue about their records. What I knew is that we lost to them last year,” said Fowles, who was offensive coordinator when the Bearcats handed Linfield its last conference loss on Oct. 25, 2008. “I had no clue what kind of streak they really had.”

Jones’ 98-yard run came in the fourth quarter and gave the Bearcats a 31-14 lead with 12:01 remaining.

“I was juiced,” Jones said. “The crowd went wild. The team went wild. I think that gave us a boost that we really needed to win the game.”

The big play was set up by Nick Brickous first of two interceptions and Willamette took over at its own 2-yard line.

“(Linfield) is really, really physical. They’re really, really aggressive. That’s a tough spot to be when you’re backed up on your own 1 or 2 yard line,” Fowles said. “Our goal started out being to punch it out just so we have some breathing room.

“Dylan hit the seam and Dylan’s fast,” he added. “It was an awesome deal.”

The scoring run broke Willamette’s school record for longest touchdown. The previous mark of 90 yards was held by Andy Miguel (2000) and Justin Peterson (2001).

“We ran zone to the left and the hole just opened up,” Jones said. “When you’re a running back, it’s not that hard to get through a hole that size. All I had to do was run in a straight line from there. So, I didn’t really have to do that much. Everybody around me did the work for me. I just got to do the easy part.”

Jones is closing in on the Bearcats’ season record for rushing as well. He currently has 1,210 yards on the ground and is approaching Drew Ecklund’s program mark of 1,240 set in 2002.

“I was on staff when Drew set that record in 2002. That record was set in a 10-game schedule,” Fowles said. “Dylan has an opportunity to do that in eight games.

“He’s really, really strong. He’s really, really powerful. He’s really, really fast,” the coach continued. “He’s really one of those fortunate guys at the Division III level that have that rare power-speed deal going on.”

Jones gave the credit for his success this season to the efforts of his offensive linemen. He added that the Bearcats’ wide receivers are excellent blockers on the edge as well.

The senior running back said holding the season record would be an extreme honor and something he could proudly look back on after his playing days are done.

After holding off Linfield, Willamette will try to duplicate the feat of beating the first place team on the road this Saturday at Pacific. It will be the Bearcats’ third straight game away from McCulloch Field.

“The win at Linfield doesn’t mean well if you don't compete well this next week,” Fowles said.

“The Pacific game is going to be another great opportunity for us,” he said. “I expect our guys to come in and give their best effort.”

SCIAC showdown

Aaron Mandell returned a touchdown for an interception for the second time in as many weeks to lead Redlands to a 40-3 win over Whittier.

The Bulldogs scored 33 straight points to earn their fifth straight win and improve to 5-0 in SCIAC play.

Meanwhile Michael Lahey threw two touchdown passes and caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Sean Meyers in Chapman’s 28-13 win over La Verne.

The Panthers are also 5-0, setting up a first place game with Redlands.

The defending champion Bulldogs will welcome Chapman to Ted Runner Stadium Saturday, looking for their 18th consecutive SCIAC victory. The Panthers are looking for a win to take another step toward their first SCIAC championship.

The rest of the West

St. John’s quarterback Nick Martin only completed one of six pass attempts, but it went for a 6-yard touchdown in a 24-7 win at Augsburg. Sam Sura racked up 170 yards rushing and Josh Bungum chipped in 101 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for the 19th-ranked Johnnies. … Preston Robinson racked up five touchdown runs in St. Scholastica’s 40-2 win at Minnesota-Morris. … Jakob Lawrence caught his second touchdown pass of the game in overtime to lift Pacific to a 48-42 win over Lewis and Clark. The Boxers are now the Northwest Conference leaders at 5-0. … UW-River Falls blocked two field goals, including one in overtime to top UW-La Crosse, 16-13. … Claremont-Mudd-Scripps defeated Cal Lutheran, 37-30. It was the Stags’ first win over CLU since 2006 and just the eighth victory over the Kingsmen in 44 meetings. … Central earned its first shutout in four years, blanking Simpson, 17-0. Simpson drove into Dutch territory six times and got inside the 15-yard line three times. But Central turned the Storm away to earn its first shutout since Oct. 2, 2010. … Joel Newman’s third touchdown pass of the game gave UW-Eau Claire its’ first win of the year – a 20-17 decision over UW-Stout. … Eleven different receivers caught passes for Northwestern (Minn.) in a 49-13 win over MacMurray. … No. 11 Bethel scored 23 straight points in the second half to erase a nine-point deficit and defeat Gustavus Adolphus, 30-23. … Sam Mentkowski caught two third quarter touchdown passes to lead UW-Oshkosh over No. 20 UW-Stevens Point, 21-7. … Brandon Richardson and Brandon Domeyer combined for 241 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead No. 6 Wartburg to a 43-24 win at Buena Vista. The win puts the Knights in sole possession of first place in the IIAC. … Kyle Warner had 10 receptions for 142 yards and three touchdowns to guide Pacific Lutheran to a 42-27 win at Puget Sound. … Shay Mueller returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown just before halftime, sparking a run of 27 unanswered points in Occidental’s 41-17 win over Pomona-Pitzer. … Caleb Huss threw three touchdown passes and ran 27 yards for the game-winning score for Iowa Wesleyan, which rallied to beat Eureka, 36-28. … Hamline defeated St. Olaf, 23-17, on the final play of the game. Tim Bona completed a touchdown pass to Phillip Sherman with no time on the clock for the winning score. … Brady Grayvold intercepted his 11th pass in his last 13 games in UW-Whitewater’s 17-7 win at No. 16 UW-Platteville. The No. 1 ranked Warhawks caused two turnovers in the red zone late to preserve the victory.

Number of the week

4 — as in the number of fourth-quarter lead changes in the MIAC battle between No. 18 Concordia-Moorhead and St. Thomas. The Tommies won the back-and-forth game, 35-32. Charlie Dowdle caught his third touchdown pass of the game to put UST up for good. Quarterback John Gould threw four touchdown passes and ran for one more in his first start of 2014.

Rank ’em

Nine teams from the West Region are ranked in this week’s Top 25, but there was a lot of movement among those squads.

UW-Whitewater is the only team ranked the same as the week before. However, the No. 1 team lost another first place vote, receiving 22 this week.

Wartburg moved up one spot to No. 5 and Bethel rose one position to No. 10.

Linfield fell six places to No. 11 and UW-Platteville dropped one spot to No. 17.

St. John’s is up one place at No. 18 and Chapman jumped up three spots to No. 21. After spending a week out of the Top 25, St. Thomas rejoined the rankings at No. 24. And Willamette is ranked for the first time this season at No. 25.

Concordia-Moorhead and UW-Stevens Point both fell out of the Top 25. However the Cobbers (30) and Pointers (10) received votes as did UW-Oshkosh (1).

Looking ahead

Bethel can clinch the MIAC championship Saturday, but the Royals will have to win at St. John’s to do so. The Johnnies are one game-back of Bethel and are looking to stay in the conference and playoff conversations.

St. Scholastica and Greenville will face off in a pseudo-conference championship game. The Panthers, who are 6-1 in UMAC play, travel to Duluth to take on the undefeated Saints. The winner will receive the UMAC’s automatic bid into the postseason.

Pacific can win at least a share of the Northwest Conference title for the first time since reinstating the football program in 2010 when the Boxers welcome Willamette to Hanson Stadium Saturday. Pacific’s last title came in 1952 when the team shared the Northwest Conference crown with the College of Idaho. Elsewhere in the NWC, Lewis and Clark visits George Fox as both teams seek their first win of the year.

Wartburg travels to Simpson Saturday. A Wartburg win would give the Knights a share of the IIAC crown. Meanwhile Central and Buena Vista will square off in Storm Lake, Iowa, with identical 4-1 league records, looking to stay in the conference chase.

UW-Whitewater can clinch a share of the WIAC title by defeating UW-Stevens Point Saturday at Perkins Stadium. UW-Oshkosh and UW-Platteville will look to stay in the conference hunt with games against UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse, respectively.

Be heard

Do you have a story idea for the Around the West column? Contact me about approaching milestones, broken records, break-out players or any other storylines in the West. Or just drop me a note and let me know what you like or don’t about the column. All ideas and feedback are welcome. Email me at josh.smith@d3sports.com or follow me on Twitter at @DU_Josh_Smith.

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Josh Smith has covered Division III sports for more than five years. He writes for multiple publications, including D3football.com beginning in 2012. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and lives in southern Wisconsin near UW-Whitewater, where he graduated with a degree in print journalism.

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