SALEM, Ore. – Willamette used a quick-strike offense to roll to a 50-21 win over visiting Whitworth on Friday night in a Northwest Conference football contest at McCulloch Stadium.
The 25th-ranked Bearcats improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the NWC while the Pirates dropped to 2-4, 0-2 with their fourth consecutive defeat.
Never was time of possession a more deceptive statistic as Whitworth finished with a 40:13 – 19:47 edge in possession time. Willamette scored seven touchdowns and each one of those possessions took 2:26 or less. The Bearcats’ longest scoring drive was eight plays.
Willamette outgained the Bucs 532-411, including a 372-170 edge in passing yardage. Whitworth starting quarterback Bryan Peterson left the game after the Pirates’ first series with an undisclosed injury and did not return to the game. Meanwhile Bearcat QB Josh Dean accounted for 391 yards of total offense. Dean completed 22 of 28 passes for 331 yards with five TD passes and he ran for 60 yards on nine attempts.
Dean’s favorite target was Derek Traeger, who caught 11 passes for 171 yards and the first three touchdowns of the game. Traeger’s 41-yard scoring catch from Dean midway through the first quarter capped an 88-yard drive that took only 1:50.
After an exchange of punts, Willamette recovered a fumbled punt return by Whitworth’s Drew Clausen at the Pirates’ 42-yard line. Four plays later Treager hauled in a 31-yard TD pass from Dean on the opening play of the second quarter. The two-point conversion made it 15-0 in favor of the ‘Cats.
Treager finished off a 77-yard drive that took 2:26 with a 29-yard reception from Dean. It was Willamette’s longest scoring drive of the night and extended the lead to 22-0 at halftime.
The Bearcats took only 1:14 to extend the lead to 36-0 at the beginning of the third quarter when Taylor Wyman ran in from ten yards out.
Willamette eventually led 50-7 early in the fourth quarter. Bearcat running backs Ryan Johnston and Dylan Jones had TD carries of 20 and 27 yards, respectively.
Whitworth freshman running back Griffin Hare had his best game yet for Whitworth. He ran for 84 yards on 16 carries and his five-yard TD run in the third quarter got the Pirates on the scoreboard at 36-7. DJ Tripoli added 85 yards on 21 carries for the Bucs. Whitworth would run for 241 net yards in the game.
Michael McCune and Ian Kolste split time at QB for Whitworth after Peterson was hurt. McCune completed 6-11 passes for 93 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Kolste was 6-13 for 63 yards with an interception.
McCune threw fourth quarter touchdown passes to Kekoa Turbeville (from 15 yards) and Erik Kobe (from 30 yards) in the final five minutes of the game.
For only the second time this season the Pirates lost the battle of turnovers as Willamette finished with a 3-0 edge in that category.
Casey Monahan led the Whitworth defense with seven tackles and a pass breakup. Aaron Cochran added six stops, including a tackle for loss of four yards. Fernando Noriega also had six tackles.
Whitworth returns home to host 2nd-ranked Linfield next Saturday in the Pine Bowl.