By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
TACOMA, Wash. -- Willamette University wide receiver Max Andersen (So./Fr., Chico, CA/Pleasant Valley HS/Butte College) set a school record with 16 pass receptions for the Bearcats, while gaining 235 passing yards and scoring two touchdowns, but the University of Puget Sound defeated the Bearcats, 56-14, on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Baker Stadium. Andersen broke the record of 14 catches originally set by Jeff Jones against Western Oregon University on Oct. 5, 1985 and tied by Andersen earlier this season at Lewis & Clark on Oct. 26.
Andersen's touchdowns against the Loggers on Saturday covered 2 yards and 36 yards. For the season, Andersen leads Willamette with 41 catches for 681 yards and is tied with Jordan Jenkins (Gr., WR, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) for the team lead with eight touchdowns. Jenkins played sparingly at Puget Sound due to an injury.
In his first start after Mathew Castaneda (Sr., QB, Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) was injured in last week's game, Willamette quarterback Aidan Kuykendall (So., San Pedro, CA/Palos Verdes Peninsula HS/L.A. Harbor College) completed 20 of 46 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns against the Loggers. He was intercepted four times in the first half and threw five interceptions overall.
Also for the Bearcats, Alec Stevenson (Sr., LB, Malibu, CA/Calabasas HS) led the WU defense with 15 total tackles (12 solo), including 2.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Stevenson also recovered a fumble.
Puget Sound quarterback Murdo Rutledge was 12 of 22 passing for 268 yards and six touchdowns. Colli Heimbach caught six passes for 152 yards and four touchdowns, while Jewell Day hauled in four passes for 129 yards and one score. Duncan Varela gained 136 rushing yards on 18 carries for the Loggers. Michael Zabran of Puget Sound topped the defensive chart with 11 total tackles, including nine unassisted tackles. Zabran also broke up three passes.
Each team broke up 11 passes during the game. Andrew Allen (Fy., DB, Oxnard, CA/Calabasas HS) and Andrew Rodriguez (Sr., DB, Santa Clara, CA/Wilcox HS) each broke up four passes for the Bearcats, including an interception by Allen. For the Loggers, Zabran's three pass break-ups were matched by Brody Pearman. Heimbach, who also played on offense and defense for Puget Sound, intercepted two passes.
The Loggers scored a safety on WU's fourth play due to special teams miscue. After the ensuing kickoff, the Loggers took over at the Willamette 40. Eight plays later, on 4th-and-7 at the WU 9, Rutledge ran with the ball and scored the game's first touchdown. Alex Everett converted the extra point to give Puget Sound a 9-0 lead.
Neither team earned points on the next five combined possessions, including back-to-back single-play drives that included Jason Clayton intercepting a pass for the Loggers and Stevenson recovering a fumble for the Bearcats.
Puget Sound took a 16-0 lead with 4:28 left in the first quarter when Rutledge threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Heimbach, completing a 9-play, 76-yard drive. A bit later in the quarter, Rutledge hit Heimbach with a 13-yard scoring strike at the 1:56 mark.
Late in the second quarter, the Bearcats drove 50 yards in four plays for Willamette's first score. After an incomplete pass, Kuykendall connected with Ty Benny (Jr., WR, St. Louis Park, MN/St. Louis Park HS) on a 37-yard throw to the Puget Sound 13-yard line. Kuykendall completed an 11-yard pass to Andersen, and then hit Andersen with a 2-yard toss for the touchdown. Kyla Gordon (Fy., PK, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) kicked the PAT with 2:41 left in the half.
Anderson's second touchdown was scored with 9:28 remaining in the third quarter after the Bearcats used just four plays to drive 66 yards. A 5-yard penalty to start the drive created 1st-and-15 at the WU 29, but Benny easily picked up the first down on the next play, when he hauled in a 33-yard pass from Kuykendall. Two plays later, Kuykendall found Andersen with a 36-yard touchdown pass. Gordon made the extra point.
Willamette will close out the season with a home game against Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Nov. 16. Game time at McCulloch Stadium is set for 1 p.m. (PST).