By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
NEWBERG, Ore. -- George Fox University scored on two punt returns and a fumble recovery in the first two quarters to build a 37-7 halftime lead and the Bruins went on to defeat Willamette University 44-14 at Stoffer Family Stadium. Joseph Castillo (Fy., RB, Alta Loma, CA/Northview HS) and Max Andersen (Sr., WR, Chico, CA/Pleasant Valley HS/Butte College) each scored a touchdown for the Bearcats.
The Bruins advanced their record to 2-2 on the season, 2-0 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 1-4 overall, 0-2 in the NWC.
Castillo scored on a 1-yard run and led the Bearcats with 18 carries for 87 yards during the game. Andersen crossed the goal line on a 42-yard pass thrown by Dante Chaney (So., QB, Arlington, TX/Mansfield Legacy HS).
George Fox opened the scoring with a 75-yard drive on the game's first possession. The drive began with a 49-yard pass from Haiden Schaan to Leon Johnson III. Overall, the Bruins used six plays to create the touchdown which was scored by Adam Hawker on an 11-yard pass from Schaan. Jason Santoni kicked the extra point to give GFU a 7-0 lead with 12:00 to go in the first quarter.
At the end of Willamette's first possession, Justin Montijo of GFU returned a punt 61 yards to the end zone. Santoni kicked the PAT. A bit later in the quarter, the Bruins completed a 55-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Austin Davis. The extra point kick failed, leaving GFU in front, 20-0.
Near the end of the quarter, WU linebacker Dylan Hall (So., Erie, CO/Peak to Peak Charter School) sacked Schaan at the GFU 14 while forcing a fumble. Hall recovered the ball at the 12-yard line. Willamette scored on the third play following the turnover, as Castillo rushed into the end zone from the 1-yard line with seven seconds on the clock. Camdin Dirnberger (Fy., PK, Missoula, MT/Sentinel HS) kicked the extra point, pulling the Bearcats within 20-7.
GFU scored 17 points in the final three minutes of the half. At the 2:00 mark, Kiegan Schaan scored on an 11-yard fumble recovery return. The Bruins regained the ball with 1:28 remaining at the WU 40 following a short punt. GFU added a 41-yard field goal by Santoni with 48 seconds on the clock. Willamette gained just eight yards after the kickoff and punted on the final play of the half. Montijo returned the ball 70 yards from the GFU 19. Montijo gave the ball to Lucas Schwin who went the final 11 yards to complete the punt return with a touchdown. Santoni's extra point gave the Bruins a 37-7 lead at the break.
Ethan Kassebaum added a 5-yard touchdown run for the Bruins with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter at the end of a 58-yard drive. Michael Wong (Fy., LB, Apple Valley, CA/Apple Valley HS) of Willamette forced a fumble by Josiah Smith on the first play of the drive, but Schmidt recovered the ball and GFU eventually scored nine plays later.
Willamette recorded its second touchdown on the ensuing possession, as the Bearcats moved 78 yards on six plays. Key plays were an 11-yard run by Castillo, a 12-yard pass from Chaney to Noah Niblett (Fy., TE/WR, Coos Bay, OR/Marshfield HS), and the 42-yard scoring strike from Chaney to Andersen with 3:35 on the clock that completed the drive. It was Andersen's 13 touchdown catch in two seasons with the Bearcats.
Neither team scored during the rest of the game, as the defenses controlled the action.
Aidan Kuykendall (Sr., San Pedro, CA/Palos Verdes Peninsula HS/L.A. Harbor College), who started the game at quarterback for the Bearcats, was 13 of 24 through the air for 66 yards. Chaney completed 4 of 10 passes for 61 yards, a touchdown, and one interception. For GFU, Haiden Schaan was 12 of 16 for 201 yards and one score, while Davis finished 1 of 2 for 12 yards.
Top receivers for Willamette were Justin Genovia (Jr., WR, Aiea, HI/Iolani School) with five catches for 23 yards, Niblett with four catches for 38 yards, and Andersen with three receptions for 46 yards. Johnson III led George Fox with three catches for 112 yards. Kassebaum of GFU rushed for 32 yards on seven carries.
Hall was the Bearcats' leading tackler with eight total stops on five unassisted tackles and three assists. He had two tackles for losses of 12 yards, including a 10-yard sack with a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Wong and Christian Tovar (Sr., LB, Covina, CA/South Hills HS) each registered five tackles. Joe James was the Bruins' top tackler with nine stops, including six unassisted tackles.
The Bearcats will take on Lewis & Clark College at McCulloch Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 16. Kickoff in Salem, Oregon, is set for 1 p.m. (PDT).