SPOKANE, WA Down 11 points with six minutes to play and facing a fourth down and five, the Willamette University football team staged a furious comeback capped by Tyler Gills interception and Quentin Brocks 20-yard touchdown run as the Bearcats defeated Whitworth College 40-34 in overtime Saturday afternoon at the Pine Bowl in Spokane.
The win was the Bearcats fifth straight and kept them undefeated at 3-0 in the Northwest Conference, setting the stage for next Saturdays home game against No. 1 and defending national champion Linfield College.
When Whitworth scored on Chris Ahsings two-yard run to put the Pirates up 34-23 with nine minutes remaining, things looked bleak for the Bearcats. The rally began following a Whitworth punt to the Bearcat 48 yard line with 6:34 to play.
The short field helped as the Bearcats went 52 yards in nine plays, capped by Cameron Waltons 23-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Tanquary. On the previous play, Walton hit Michael Plank on an 8-yard pass play on fourth down and five to keep the Bearcats hopes alive.
Quentin Brocks two point conversion run made it 34-31 and the Bearcats still had life. Willamettes defense held Whitworth without a first down and Willamette took over on their own 37-yard line with 1:59 to play.
With Walton rushing for 36 yards on the drive and a 10-yard pass to Plank, the Bearcats drove to the Whitworth 2-yard line. After a penalty, with time running out, Matt Bicocca kicked a 21-yard field goal with three seconds to play to send the game into overtime.
In OT, after the Bearcats won the toss and elected to defend, Gill intercepted Whitworth quarterback Joel Clark on the goal line. I took the Bearcats only two plays to score. Brock rushed for five yards on the first play and then ran 20-yards for the winning score.
The Bearcats played from behind all game. After a scoreless first quarter, Whitworth too a 7-0 lead when Clark found Michael Allen on a 71-yard pass play. The Pirates made it 14-0 on Kyle Haverscrots two-yard TD run with 5:58 to play in the second quarter.
The Bearcats, stymied much of the first half on offense, finally woke up on their final drive of the second. Starting from their own 25 with just under a minute to play, the Bearcats went 75 yards in ten plays, highlighted by a Ryan Hernandez's (pictured above) 21 yard run and a 14-yard pass to Plank before Brock carried the ball three straight times resulting in a one-yard TD run.
Whitworth made it 21-7 on their opening drive of the third quarter, going 46 yards in seven plays, capped by Clarks 17-yard TD run.
Willamette came right back, taking the next kickoff 80 yards in six plays. Hernandez rushed for 40 yards on the drive, then took a 30-yard pass from Walton for the Bearcats second score and a 21-14 deficit.
Willamette tied the game on its next possession. Starting at the Willamette 48, Brock rushed 33 yards to the Whitworth 15. Steve Wilbon rushed ten yards, then caught a five-yard pass to get the ball to the Whitworth five-yard line before Hernandez got his second TD with a four-yard run.
Whitworth again responded with a 54-yard, eight play drive capped by an 11-yard TD pass from Clark to Kyle Snell. On the PAT however, the bearcats blocked the kick and Wesley Randall took it all the way back for a two-point defensive conversion, making the score 27-23.
After that wild third quarter, Whitworth stretched its lead to 34-23 on Ahsings TD run, setting the stage for the Bearcats big comeback.
For the game, Willamette had 414 yards to total offense to 409 for Whitworth. The Bearcats gained 271 yards rushing and 143 yards through the air. The Pirates balanced attack had 211 yards passing and 198 yards on the ground.
Brock led Willamette with 144 yards in 25 carries with two touchdowns. Hernandez racked up 73 yards in eight carries and caught two passes good for another 37 yards. He had one rushing and one receiving touchdown.
Walton was 13-23 with one interception and two touchdowns to go along with 61 yards rushing in ten carries. Plank caught seven passes for 58 yards, including the key fourth down reception.
Willamette, now 5-3 overall and 3-0 NWC, play Linfield Saturday at McCulloch Stadium. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.