Jenkins Catches 7th Touchdown Pass for Bearcats in Loss to Whitworth Pirates

Jordan Jenkins (Gr., WR, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS)
Jordan Jenkins (Gr., WR, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Jordan Jenkins (Gr., WR, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) of Willamette University caught his seventh touchdown pass of the season late in the first half, but the Bearcats were unable to stop Whitworth University, ranked #23 in the Top 25, from improving to 2-1 on the season with an 82-7 win over the Bearcats on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Pine Bowl. Willamette fell to 2-2 overall.

It was the Northwest Conference opener for both teams. Whitworth ended the day at 1-0 in the NWC, while Willamette went to 0-1.

Jenkins has now caught 17 passes for 257 yards and his seven touchdowns in Willamette's first three games against NCAA Division III opponents. At Whitworth on Saturday, he hauled in seven passes for 85 yards. He crossed the goal line on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Mathew Castaneda (Sr., Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) with 11 seconds left in the first half that reduced the Pirates' lead to 31-7 at the break.

Whitworth built its first half lead with a field goal, a touchdown and a two-point conversion on its first two possessions. A fumble by Willamette at its own 30-yard line led to the first score, but the defense for the Bearcats limited the Pirates to a 26-yard field goal by Noah Alejado. On the first play after the kickoff, Castaneda was intercpeted by Kaipo Barnes at the Willamette 37. Two plays later Taylor Kolste caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Connor Johnson. The two-point conversion was scored by Johnson to give Whitworth an 11-0 lead with 10:08 left in the first quarter.

A bad snap by the Bearcats on fourth down late in the first period gave the Pirates control at the Willamette 7-yard line. On the second play, Koste grabbed a 6-yard touchdown strike from Leif Ericksen. The extra point kick by Alejado increased the lead to 18-0. The Pirates added a 33-yard touchdown pass form Ericksen to Andrew Meredith and a 1-yard scoring run by Brayden Corona before Willamette's touchdown drive.

The Bearcats took over at the Whitworth 25-yard line with 1:17 left in the half after Kyle Martz (So., DB, Salem, OR/ South Salem HS) intercepted a pass at the Pirates' 30 and return it five yards. Several plays later, on 3rd-and-16, Castaneda threw the 19-yard scoring toss to Jenkins. Kyla Gordon (Fy., PK, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) kicked the extra point.

Whitworth added five touchdowns in the third quarter, and the Pirates scored two touchdowns and a safety in the fourth quarter. Two of Whitworth's touchdowns in the second half were scored after  turnovers, including a 30-yard interception return by Jamaal Edwards for the final touchdown. The last two points were scored on a safety when a Willamette punt was blocked and the Bearcats recovered the ball in their own end zone.

Castaneda was 20 of 41 passing with one touchdown and three interceptions. Jenkins' seven catches and 85 yards led all receivers on both teams. For Willamette, Kodiak Hussey (So., WR, Idaho Falls, ID/Skyline HS) added four catches for 65 yards. Caine Farmer (Sr., WR/RB, Kit Carson, CO/Kit Carson School) rushed five times for 31 yards (6.2 avg.) for the Bearcats.

Johnson was 7 for 7 passing for 91 yards and four interceptions on the day for Whitworth, while Ericksen finished 11 of 18 with two touchdowns and one interception. Ericksen passes for 108 yards. Kolste was the Pirates' top receiver with five catches for 72 yards and two scores. Brayden Corona carried the ball 10 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns for Whitworth.

Alec Stevenson (Sr., LB, Malibu, CA/Calabasas HS) and Keaton Adams (So., DL, Colorado Springs, CO/Doherty HS) topped the Willamette defense with eight total tackles apiece. Stevenson registered  seven unassisted stops and one-half of a sack, and also forced a fumble. Adams earned 1.0 tackle for loss, including one-half of a sack.

Whitworth's defense forced Willamette into seven turnovers, while the Pirates lost the ball two times. Colten Chelin and Gunnar Swannack each led Whitworth with six total tackles. Barnes earned two interceptions for the Pirates.

The Bearcats will host Pacific University at Homecoming and Family Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 12. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PDT).