SALEM, OR After a three-week layoff, the Willamette University football team is set to take the field again this Saturday when they host Pacific Lutheran University at 6:00 p.m. at McCulloch Stadium.
The Bearcats have not played since defeating Southern Oregon 34-28 in double overtime back on October 8. The layoff came after Northwest Conference (NWC) opponent Lewis & Clark dropped the conference portion of their schedule due a lack of players on their roster. Willamettes originally scheduled bye week was this past Saturday (Oct. 22), and the Bearcats were supposed to play at Lewis & Clark on October 15.
Back-to-back bye weeks allowed Willamette to rest injured players, and it also gave the team ample time to prepare for Pacific Lutheran, who is coming off their own win over Southern Oregon, a 28-17 victory this past Saturday.
Willamette, 3-3 overall and 1-0 in NWC play, has won three straight after opening the season with three straight loses. Pacific Lutheran, meanwhile, improved to 2-4 overall with their second straight victory.
Senior quarterback Cameron Walton (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) is expected to be back this weekend for Willamette, after sitting out much of the Southern Oregon contest with a concussion. Walton is one of the Bearcats key components to their successful running game, which ranks second in the conference with an average of 244.2 yards per game.
Walton is second on the team in rushing with 289 yards and two touchdowns. Through the air, he is 40-75 for 480 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Junior receiver Michael Plank (Stockton, Calif.), who had nine catches for 168 yards against Southern Oregon, is one of Waltons main targets, and he leads Willamette in receiving with 20 receptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns.
Running back Quentin Brock (SR, Fresno, Calif.) leads Willamettes ground attack, and is second in the conference in rushing, with 522 yards. Brock is averaging 87 yards per contest.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Bearcats, linebackers Phil Sweet (SO, Albany, Ore.) and Megdy Khoury (SR, Elko, Nev.) are first and third, respectively, in the conference in tackles per game. Sweet is averaging 10.5 stops a game, while Khoury is averaging 8.8.
Junior quarterback Chris Maine, and sophomore receivers Chase Reed and Craig Chiado lead Pacific Lutheran offensively.
Maine is 19th in Division III in total offense per game with an average of 283.2 yards per game. On the year he has thrown for 1,574 yards, 12 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
Reed, while listed as a receiver, is the Lutes primary weapon on the ground. He is averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and has rushed for 242 yards and five touchdowns. He is also the Lutes second leading receiver with 29 catches for 371 yards and four touchdowns.
Chiado leads the conference, and is ninth in the nation, in receiving yards per game with an average of 117.5 yards per game. He has 38 receptions for 705 yards and four scores.
Defensively for Pacific Lutheran, defensive backs Tyler Breum and Kurt Van Selus are first and second on the team in tackles, with 41.5 and 38 respectively. Van Selus also has four interceptions on the year, which ties him for first in the conference with teammate Brent Frank.
Frank is the reigning NWC Defensive Player of the Week after picking off three Southern Oregon passes last week.
Pacific Lutheran, 0-2 in NWC play this year, leads the all-time series, 20-13-2The Bearcats have won the last two meetings, including a 26-21 come-from-behind win last year at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Washington. Willamette scored twice in the final 3:29 for the winPacific Lutheran head coach Scott Westering is in his second year after serving as an assistant coach under his father, Frosty. Westering joined the coaching staff in 1981 and became the offensive coordinator two years later. He was a first-team NAIA All-American TE on the Lutes 1980 national championship teamWillamette backup QB Kevin Whipps more than held his own against Southern Oregon on Oct. 8. In the first considerable amount of playing time of his career, the sophomore from Eagle, Idaho went 11-23 for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Whipps played the final three quarters and both overtime periods in place of the injured WaltonWillamette and PLU are almost identical in four statistical categories in the most recent version of the NWC statistics. PLU is fourth in the conference in scoring offense (25.3), while Willamette is fifth (24.0). In scoring defense, Willamette is third (29.3) and PLU is fourth (29.8). In the red zone, Willamette is scoring on 66.7 percent of its trip inside the twenty (4th in the NWC), while PLU is scoring on 64.7 percent of its plays inside the twenty (5th). Defensively in the red zone, the Lutes opponents are scoring points 84 percent of the time (4th), and Willamette is allowing points inside the twenty 84.2 percent of the time (5th).