TACOMA, WASH. -- The University of Puget Sound edged Willamette University, 13-7, when UPS offensive lineman Cody Dean recovered a fumble in the end zone with 2:20 left in a Northwest Conference game at Baker Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13. Dean came to the Loggers' rescue after teammate James Olcott fumbled at the Willamette 1-yard line on a 3rd-and-goal play that began three yards from the end zone. The timely recovery allowed UPS to improve to 3-3 overall, 1-2 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 2-4, 1-1 in the NWC.
Puget Sound missed the extra point following Dean's score, as place-kicker Mike Griffith was unable to convert the kick. Willamette took over at the UPS 46-yard line after the ensuing kickoff, as Skylar Swinford (Sr., RB, McCall, ID/McCall-Donnelly HS) returned the kick 33 yards.
On the next play, WU quarterback Ryan Whitcomb (So., Oak View, CA/Nordhoff HS/College of the Canyons) fumbled while being sacked by Jake Parks. Cole Hawes recovered the ball for UPS at the Logger's 47-yard line.
Willamette held on downs, with Brian Ames of UPS falling on his own fumble at the UPS 45 on a 4th-and-4 play that started at the WU 47. The Bearcats were out of time-outs and had about 30 seconds remaining.
After three incomplete passes, Whitcomb connected with Tony Krikorian (So., FL, Costa Mesa, CA/Costa Mesa HS) on a 16-yard pass to the UPS 34-yard line. On the next play, Whitcomb's desperation pass was intercepted by Demetri Huffman in the end zone as time expired.
Swinford scored Willamette's only touchdown on a 17-yard run with 4:18 left in the first quarter. The score came on WU's second possession and completed a 7-play, 60-yard drive. Matt Bicocca (Sr., PK, San Andreas, CA/Calaveras HS) converted the extra point. Willamette still held a 7-0 lead at halftime.
The Loggers tied the score on the opening possession of the second half. Puget Sound drove 63 yards on seven plays, with Silas Paul reaching the end zone on a 2-yard run. The touchdown was recorded with 11:34 remaining in the third quarter. Griffith made the extra point kick.
Neither team scored again until Dean's fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter.
For Willamette, senior running back C.J. Washington (Spokane, WA/Shadle Park HS) rushed for 96 yards on 13 carries. Whitcomb, who entered the game as WU's leading rusher with 344 yards on 55 carries, was limited to 39 yards on 14 carries by the Loggers. It was Whitcomb's first game as the starting quarterback for the Bearcats, after splitting time between the quarterback and wide receiver positions until previous starter Grant Leslie (Jr., QB, Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) suffered a knee injury against Linfield College on Sept. 29.
The Bearcats gained 305 yards overall, including 227 rushing yards on 48 carries. Whitcomb was 10 of 17 passing for 78 yards. Puget Sound finished with 236 total yards, as Willamette held the Loggers to just 32 rushing yards on 40 carries. UPS quarterback Spencer Crace was 13 of 24 passing for 204 yards.
Neither team committed a turnover until WU's fumble with 2:05 left in the game. Even so, both teams pressured the quarterbacks, as Willamette amassed five quarterback sacks and Puget Sound earned four quarterback sacks. Willamette was unable to take greater advantage of its rushing success due to penalties and a missed 43-yard field goal. WU finished the game with nine penalties for 75 yards, while UPS was penalized five times for 40 yards.
Taylor Hermes (Sr., ILB, Keizer, OR/McNary HS/Southern Oregon University) led the WU defense with 13 total tackles, including eight solo tackles and two tackles for losses (one sack). Phil Sweet (Sr., ILB, Albany, OR/West Albany HS) added 11 tackles for the Bearcats. Tyler Vlasak registered 17 total tackles for the Loggers. Trevor Beck was credited with 11 tackles for UPS. Despite nine sacks between the two teams, no individual player was credited with more than one sack during the game.
The Bearcats will be in action again on Saturday, Oct. 20, when they take on Menlo College in Atherton, Calif. Game time is set for 12 p.m. (PDT). Last year, WU rallied for a 41-35 victory over the Oaks, in a game that also was played in Atherton.