Football Moment of the Year
SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University trailed Pacific University 17-7 entering the fourth quarter of their Northwest Conference game on Nov. 9 at McCulloch Stadium. The Boxers held a 203-185 edge in total offense after breaking a 7-7 halftime tie with 10 unanswered points in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter, however, belonged to the Bearcats, who rallied with 14 point of their own to earn a 21-17 victory on Senior Day.
Willamette scored quickly on a possession that began at the WU 9-yard line with 9:51 left in the game. It took just two plays to reach the end zone, starting with a 32-yard pass from Josh Dean (Sr., QB, Dana Point, CA/Dana Hills HS) to Beau Smith (Jr., WR, Roseville, CA/Roseville HS).
On the next play, Dean threw a 58-yard pass to Smith, who scored a touchdown. Kyle Derby (Sr., PK/P, Oakdale, CA/Oakdale HS) kicked the extra point, cutting the deficit to 17-14.
The WU defense held Pacific without a first down on the ensuing possession, and the Boxers punted. Willamette took over at its own 25-yard line.
Three plays later on 3rd-and-1, Dean completed a 12-yard pass to Smith to keep the drive going. Later, on 2nd-and-2 at the Pacific 36, Dean scrambled for 16 yards.
On the next play, Dean tossed a shovel pass to Taylor Wyman (Jr., RB, Bellevue, WA/Issaquah HS), who eluded several tacklers while moving toward the left sideline on his way to a 20-yard touchdown. Derby kicked the extra point for 21-17 lead.
The Bearcats forced Pacific to punt at the WU 46 on the Boxers' next possession. Willamette gained control at its own 9-yard line with 2:16 left, and proceeded to run out the clock by picking up a pair of first downs. De'Zhon Grace (Fr., WR, Castro Valley, CA/Bishop O'Dowd HS) caught a short pass in the right flat and avoided a defender for a 10-yard gain.
On 3rd-and-19 at the 12-yard line, Dean ran on a quick draw play up the middle with about 1:15 remaining in the game. He gained 22 yards to clinch the victory.
Dean completed 8 of 9 passes in the fourth quarter for 155 yards. Smith hauled in four passes for 110 yards in the fourth quarter. Overall, the Bearcats gained 189 yards in the quarter to finish the game with 374 yards. The Bearcats limited Pacific to 63 yards in the fourth quarter and 266 yards overall.
For the game, Smith led Willamette with five catches for 120 yards. Wyman caught three passes for 38 yards, while rushing 24 times for 82 yards and one touchdown. Dean threw for 223 yards and added 71 yards on the ground.
It was the second consecutive close win for the Bearcats over the Boxers. In the final game of the 2013 season, Willamette scored on a 1-yard run by Dylan Jones (Jr., Santa Maria, CA/Ernest Righetti HS) with 27 seconds left for a 35-31 triumph on Pacific's home field in Forest Grove, Ore.
Willamette's comeback this past November was a great moment in a successful season. The Bearcats defeated the University of Puget Sound 62-20 on Nov. 16 to finish the year with a 7-2 record and take third place in the NWC at 4-2. WU was ranked #25 In the final regular season NCAA Division III Poll released by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).