Oct 10, 2017

Game Preview: No. 21 Bruins Host Bearcats Oct. 14

A Winning Tradition

 
  • One post-season appearance (1960 Crusader Bowl)
  • 20 All-NWC Athletes 
  • 6 NWC Student-Athlete of the Week Awards 
  • 2 D3Football.com Team of the Week (Justin Leatherman, 2014; Lenana Meekisho, 2015)
  • 1 D3Football.com All-West Region Team (Nolan Schuler, 2016)
  • 2 NSCA All-American (Justin Kruse, 2015; Dane Jensen, 2017)
  • 2 NFL Draft Picks 
 

By: Alex Plusquellec

NEWBERG, Ore. --- The Bruins made history last weekend, breaking into the Top 25 teams among the nation for the first time in school history after a convincing win over No. 22-ranked Whitworth University. The final score was 43-23.

The No. 21 Bruins (4-1, 2-0 NWC) have now won four in a row and will look to remain atop the Northwest Conference standings as they set their sights on the Willamette Bearcats (0-4, 0-2 NWC).

In their defeat of Whitworth, the Bruins' stout defense passed their toughest test to date against the Pirates' offense, ranked top in the conference.  Whitworth amassed just 359 yards of total offense against the Bruins—nearly 120 yards less than their season average—and quarterback Ian Kolste was held to 162 yards passing on 28 attempts before exiting in the third quarter with a non-contact injury.

On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Grant Schroeder has continued to elevate his play. Facing a Whitworth defense that was giving up just 15 points per game, Schroeder had his way with the Pirates through the air as well as on the ground. He threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 82 yards and another two touchdowns. Running back Wesley Riddell will look to provide the one-two punch with Schroeder out of the backfield after coming off his best game of the season, in which he rushed for 121 yards and two scores.

While Willamette doesn't boast a favorable record, the Bearcats do have players who rank among the best at their position in the NWC. Quarterback Mathew Castaneda is averaging 222 yards passing over three games, third-best amongst conference quarterbacks. The sophomore did not play in the Bearcats' matchup with Linfield College due to injury, and was replaced by senior Ryan Knowlton. In his first start, Knowlton completed 8 of 16 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, along with two interceptions, in the loss.

Defensively, the Bearcats average giving up roughly 180 yards rushing per game, leaving the door open for opponents to use the run to set up the pass. However, the Bearcats are led by one of the Northwest Conference's top tacklers, sophomore linebacker Alec Stevenson. Stevenson ranks just behind Charles Riga with 11 tackles per game. In addition, Bearcats defensive lineman Benjamin Jahn was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week two weeks ago after a 13 tackle, 1.5 sack performance against Lewis and Clark.

The Bruins and Bearcats will square off at Stoffer Family Stadium Saturday, Oct. 14, with kickoff set for 1 p.m.