SALEM, Oregon – Parker Brisebois caught the go-ahead touchdown with 1:17 left in regulation and Ronnie Espedal III's second interception of the game sealed the Puget Sound football team's 24-20 triumph at Willamette on Saturday.
The Loggers (2-1, 1-0 NWC) began their game-winning drive on their own 21-yard line with 3:06 clock while trailing, 20-17. Quarterback Hans Fortune connected with wide receiver Peter Bell for three consecutive completions and 20 yards before Brisebois hauled in the 22-yard go-ahead touchdown with 1:17 on the clock.
Willamette's (0-3, 0-1 NWC) ensuing drive included a couple of incomplete passes before Espadal, who made his first start of the season, picked off Trent Spallas. The Loggers' victory is their first road win to start conference play since Puget Sound beat Willamette, 17-14, in 2000.
"I'm very proud of the way the guys grinded out this win," said Puget Sound head coach Jeff Thomas. "The defense did a phenomenal job all game. They were clutch."
The high-octane Logger offense, which entered Saturday ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division-III for passing yards per game, scored a touchdown in its first possession of the game. Puget Sound capped off an eight-play, 58-yard drive when Fortune connected with Kevin Miller for a 10-yard touchdown to put the Loggers ahead, 7-0.
Both sides played lockdown defense through the rest of the first half. The Loggers and Bearcats exchange field goals and Puget Sound held a 10-3 lead entering halftime.
Puget Sound opened the second half with possession, but Willamette returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown to even the score, 10-10. The Bearcats claimed their first lead late in the third quarter with a 69-yard touchdown completion.
Brennan Schon, who entered the weekend ranked No. 2 in the nation in yards per catch, hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass down the sidelines to tie the game, 17-17, midway through the fourth quarter.
Willamette answered right back with a go-ahead field goal with 4:35 left in regulation. Puget Sound's next possession resulted in a turnover after it failed to convert on fourth-and-one with 3:34 to go. The Loggers' defense buckled down and coaching staff utilized its timeouts well as Puget Sound forced the Bearcats into a three-and-out while running just 28 seconds off the clock. The Loggers were left with plenty of time of time to put together its come-from-behind victory.
Fortune threw four 337 yards and three touchdowns, while Miller caught 12 passes for 97 yards. Bell set a career-record with 94 receiving yards on nine receptions.
Puget Sound returns to Baker Stadium when it hosts Whitworth on Saturday, Oct. 10. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
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