Courtesy of Willamette Athletics
STEVENS POINT, Wisc. -- Willamette University got off to a slow start in its battle of nationally-ranked NCAA Division III teams at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Saturday, Sept. 4, but the Bearcats rallied for a 33-14 victory. The season-opening win moved Willamette, ranked #18 in the D3football.com Top 25 Preseason Poll, to 1-0, while UW-Stevens Point, ranked #16, fell to 0-1.
Stevens Point scored on its first two drives and held Willamette to limited offense on the Bearcats' first two possessions, as the Pointers took a 14-0 lead. The Bearcats recovered to take a 27-14 lead into the halftime break and added one more touchdown in the second half to earn the final 33 points of the game.
A key drive for Willamette ate up the end of the first half and resulted in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brian Widing (So., QB, Oregon City, OR/Canby HS) to Jake Knecht (So., WR, Issaquah, WA/Skyline HS/Illinois State Univ.) with three seconds left on the clock in the second quarter.
The Bearcats gained 344 total yards on 56 plays, compared to 309 yards on 69 plays for UW-Stevens Point. Willamette rushed for 244 yards on 44 carries. Four runners each gained at least 40 yards for the Bearcats, led by Matt Williams (So., FL, Encinitas, CA/La Costa Canyon HS), who ran for 65 yards on just two carries (long of 59).
Willamette will play its second consecutive road game against a Top 25 team when the Bearcats take on Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) on Saturday, Sept. 11. Game time in Abilene, Texas, against #15 HSU is set for 4 p.m. (Pacific)/6 p.m. (Central).