By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- California Lutheran University scored four touchdowns -- three on drives of nine or more plays -- as the Kingsmen defeated Willamette University, 28-13, on Saturday, Sept. 16 at McCulloch Stadium. The Kingsmen upped their record to 2-0. Willamette, playing its Homecoming Game as part of Alumni Weekend, fell to 0-2.
CLU's touchdown drives lasted 12 plays, nine plays, and seven plays in the first half, plus an 11-play drive that ended with 10:53 left in the fourth quarter on a 9-yard pass from Adam Friederichsen to Wendell O'Brien. It was CLU's final touchdown and gave the Kingsmen a 28-7 lead.
Willamette reached the California Lutheran 16-yard line with 7:02 left in the game, but turned the ball over on downs after a 13-play drive. The Bearcats got the ball back with 1:27 left following a fumble recovery, and scored on the final play of the game on a 6-yard pass from Mathew Castaneda (So., QB, Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) to Garrett Keizur (So., TE, West Linn, OR/West Linn HS). No extra point was attempted following the last touchdown.
The game began with a 12-play, 67-yard drive by the Kingsmen that ate up 5:33 on the clock. California Lutheran converted two third downs and a fourth down during the drive. The Kingsmen were almost stopped at the WU 28, but Aaron Lacombe caught a 9-yard pass from Friederichsen on 4th-and-3 to keep the drive going. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-5 at the 12-yard line, Friederichsen hit Lacombe with a touchdown pass. Dominick Grimm kicked the extra point to give CLU a 7-0 lead.
Willamette moved to the California Lutheran 32-yard on the Bearcats' second drive, but Castaneda threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-3. On WU's third possession, the Bearcats took over a their own 1-yard line following a punt. Seven plays later, Willamette punted and CLU took over 10 yards into Bearcat territory.
The Kingsmen drove for their second touchdown on nine plays in the second quarter. Two of the plays were fourth down conversions. The first was on 4th-and-2 at the WU 32 when a roughing the passer penalty advanced California Lutheran to the Willamette 17. Four plays later, Chris Beeson ran for three yards on 4th-and-1 to take the ball to the 8-yard line.
Two plays later, Friederichsen tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Lacombe with 7:03 remaining in the half. After Grimm's kick, the Kingsmen were in front 14-0.
Willamette punted on its fourth play following the touchdown. Richard Caceres signaled a fair catch for CLU, but he fumbled the ball and Jackson Lewis (Jr., ILB, Yakima, WA/A.C. Davis HS) recovered for the Bearcats. Willamette took quick advantage of the turnover, scoring on the third play when Castaneda completed a 15-yard scoring strike to a wide open Jeremiah James (Sr./Jr., WR, Salem, OR/South Salem HS/Chemeketa CC). Benjamin Jahn (Sr./Jr., DL, Juneau, AK/Thunder Mountain HS) kicked the PAT to pull the Bearcats within 14-7 with 3:57 on the clock.
California Lutheran benefited from a 30-yard kickoff return by Beeson that set up the final touchdown of the half. The Kingsmen drove 54 yards on seven plays, with O'Brien hauling in a 26-yard pass the touchdown with 1:05 left. Grimm kicked the extra point, and the Kingsmen held a 21-7 margin at halftime.
WU strung together 11 plays on its second possession of the third quarter, as the Bearcats advanced the ball from their own 15 to the CLU 34. Castaneda was sacked by Gus Konadu and Kaiden Mowery on 3rd-and-3 for a seven yard loss and the Bearcats were forced to punt.
The third quarter ended without either team scoring, but California Lutheran started its final scoring drive with the last two plays of the period. Another nine plays completed the drive, with O'Brien earning his second touchdown catch of the day.
It appeared the game would end with CLU in front 28-7, but Tommy MacDevitt (So., OLB, Santa Clara, CA/Saint Francis HS) forced Devone Dixon to fumble at the WU 36 with 1:27 left. Willamette recovered the ball at the WU 28. Castaneda's 6-yard touchdwon pass to Keizur was recorded 11 plays later as time expired. The Bearcats drove 72 yards and picked up four first downs before the scoring play.
California Lutheran gained 385 yards on offense, while Willamette accumulated 251 yards. Friederichsen was 23 of 30 passing for 286 yards and four touchdowns. He was sacked three times. For Willamette, Castaneda finished 23 of 40 through the air for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Neither team threw an interception.
Alex Israel (Sr., WR, McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS) of WU led all players with seven catched. He gained 60 yards. James caught six passes for 58 yards for the Bearcats. Lacombe topped the CLU receiving chart with six catches for 99 yards and two scores. O'Brien hauled in five passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns. The leading rushers were Beeson of California Lutheran with 66 yards on 20 carries and Joey Thurman of Willamette with 49 yards on 11 carries.
Lewis provided the Bearcats with 14 total tackles, including nine solo stops, 2.0 sacks for 13 yards, and 3.0 tackles for loss in addition to his fumble recovery. MacDeviitt registered 10 total tackles with six solo tackles and one tackle for loss.
Nick Gordon led the CLU defense with nine total tackles. Klayton Wood achieved seven tackles. The Kingsmen broke up seven passes led by Lucas Quinn and Christian Rivers with two break-ups apiece.
The Bearcats do not have a game next weekend. They will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. It will be the Northwest Conference opener for both teams. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (PDT).