By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University quarterback Mathew Castaneda (Sr., Salinas, CA/Salinas HS) threw a school record 95-yard touchdown pass to Max Andersen (So./Fy., WR, Chico, CA/Pleasant Valley HS/Butte College) during Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 16 at McCulloch Stadium, but Pacific Lutheran University defeated the Bearcats, 45-20, in the final game of the season for both teams. The 95-yard scoring strike set the new record by a single yard. The previous Willamette record for longest completion was 94 yards on a throw from Todde Greenough to David Shirley against Whitworth University on Oct. 8, 1988.
Pacific Lutheran ended the season with a 2-7 record, including 1-6 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette concluded the year at 2-8 overall, 0-7 in the NWC.
Castaneda finished the game 20 of 39 for 334 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Andersen caught six passes for 171 yards and scored on two pass receptions, including a 23-yard pass from Aidan Kuykendall (So., QB, San Pedro, CA/Palos Verdes Peninsula HS/L.A. Harbor College) in the first quarter that pulled WU within 7-6. Caine Farmer (Sr., WR/RB, Kit Carson, CO/Kit Carson School) hauled in eight passes that gained 126 yards for the Bearcats.
PLU quarterback Bryce Missey was 18 of 30 in the air for 319 yards and five touchdowns. Jace Keim caught four passes for 118 yards and one touchdown. Alex Rendon grabbed four passe sfor 41 yards and three touchdowns.
The Lutes had a lengthy pass of their own that went for the game's first touchdown. Pacific Lutheran began the drive after forcing WU to punt from the PLU 45. On the third play for the Lutes at their won 6-yard line, Missey hit Keim on a mid-range pass between the hash marks, and Keim raced the rest of the way to the end zone for a 94-yard pass completion. Alex Brost kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Willamette answered quickly with a 8-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Kuykendall's 23-yard touchdown pass to Andersen. The drive also featured passes to Farmer that covered 6 yards, 22 yards and 11 yards, plus two 6-yard runs by Thomas Wirth (So., RB, Basalt, CO/Basalt HS). The extra point kick by Kyla Gordon (Fy., PK, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) hit the right upright and bounced out with 5:42 left in the first quarter, leaving PLU in front by a single point.
Laakea Ane scored for Pacific Lutheran on a 7-yard pass from Missey with 3:10 to play in the quarter to increased the Lutes' advantage to 14-6. PLU added a 22-yard touchdown pass from Missey to Rendon early in the second quarter for a 21-6 lead.
Pacific Lutheran tacked on 14 more points before halftime on two safeties, a field goal, a touchdown pass and an extra point kick. The scoring happened with WU trapped inside its own 25-yard line throughout the quarter. Willamette's defense played well during the quarter despite being on the field for much of the period.
The Lute's first safety was scored after a high snap by Willamette from punt formation on 4th-and-12 at the WU 23. PLU then drove from its own 48 to the WU 19 before the Bearcats forced the Lutes to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Brost. On the next play for WU, the Lutes forced a fumble and took over at the 20-yard line. Four plays later, Keaton Adams (So., DE, Colorado Springs, CO/Doherty HS) of Willamette blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt by Brost.
The Bearcats had to punt from their own 14 several plays later, and the Lutes gained possession at the WU 43. Pacific Lutheran eventually scored on a 17-yard pass to Rendon that was nearly intercepted by Albert Ramon (So., DB, Hesperia, CA/Northview HS). Ramon almost controlled the ball, but it slipped through to Rendon, who grabbed it while barely in-bounds near the right edge of the end zone. Brost kicked the PAT for a 33-6 lead.
An interception by Jackson Intlekofer gave the Lutes the ball again with 3:33 left in the half, and PLU moved from the WU 36 to the WU 10 in three plays. A two-yard loss on a run by Cody Brown and a false start penalty moved the ball back to the WU 17. On third down, Missey hit Jacob Revell with a 16-yard pass. On 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Marcus Wiley was stopped by Zach McLellan (Fy., DB, Vacaville, CA/Will C. Wood HS) and Andrew Allen (Fy., DB, Oxnard, CA/Calabasas HS) for no gain.
Willamette took over at the 1-yard line after the goal line stand. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, the Lutes recorded a tackle in the end zone on the next play for their second safety and a 35-6 halftime advantage.
PLU increased its margin to 42-6 on Rendon's third touchdown of the game on a 3-yard catch in the third quarter. Willamette's 95-yard pass completion went from Castaneda to Andersen down the left sideline with 11:07 remaining in the fourth quarter. Gordon kicked the extra point.
Brost kicked a 23-yard field goal for the Lutes with 8:00 to go in the fourth quarter. Jordan Jenkins (Gr., WR, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS) scored the Bearcats' last touchdown of the game with 4:30 left on an 11-yard pass from Castaneda. Gordon added the PAT.
McLellan of Willamette led all defensive players with 12 total tackles. Alec Stevenson (Sr., LB, Malibu, CA/Calabasas HS) added 11 total tackles for the Bearcats, while Allen recorded eight tackles. Adams earned six tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, while Tommy MacDevitt (Sr., LB, Santa Clara, CA/Saint Francis HS) produced six tackles and was credited with 1.0 tackle for loss. Nicholas Bautista topped the PLU defense with eight tackles.