Willamette jumped out to a 29-0 first quarter lead and never looked back in a 64-34 win over Hardin-Simmons in the football season opener for both teams on Friday night in Salem, Ore.
The Bearcats’ Terrell Malley took the opening kickoff 94 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown and Willamette converted a two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
The Cowboys had to punt on its initial possession and Josh Dean capped a 94-yard drive with a 33-yard run for a touchdown at the 12:00 mark. Another two-point conversion made it 22-0.
After another drive stalled Willamette went 68 yards in seven plays and Taylor Wyman scored from 21 yards out. The two-point conversion failed and Willamette scored again with 1:53 to play in the first quarter on a Joseph Harmon three-yard pass from Dean.
HSU got on the board at the 11:43 mark of the second half when Tevin Mitchell scored from eight yards out. Mike Hursh’s PAT missed and it was 29-6.
Tyson Giza returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to make it 36-6. Bryce Johnson capped a 72-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 36-13.
HSU forced a quick three-and-out, but Josh Christian was picked off and WU went 32 yards in three plays with Dylan Jones scoring from 1-yard out with 7:38 to play. Kyle Derby hit a 23-yard field goal to make it 46-13 with :24 to play in the half.
The Cowboys had 287 yards in the first half, including 183 yards on the ground. Tevin Mitchell had 109 yards on 16 carries and Bryce Johnson had 70 yards on 14 carries. WU had 325 yards in the half.
Christian hit Nick Runkles on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 6:23 to play in the third quarter. It capped a 12-play, 72-yard drive. WU answered with an Anders Mintz 43-yard field goal.
Jarvas Morris cut the Willamette deficit to 49-34 with a 4-yard touchdown run with 9:09 to play. HSU forced a third and long, but De’zhon Grace got open on busted coverage and went 66 yards for a touchdown.
Christian was intercepted on the next possession and the Bearcats cashed it in for a Derek Trager 9-yard touchdown pass from Dean. The Bearcats went for two and converted to make it 64-34 with 6:33 to play.
Christian was 15-for-37 for 167 yards in his debut as the Cowboys’ starter. He had three interceptions and a touchdown.
HSU rushed for 344 yards in the game and outgained the Bearcats 534-506. Johnson had 173 yards and two scores and Mitchell had 169 yards and a touchdown.
Jonathan Wilder led the defense with 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss.
Josh Dean was 24-of-32 for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Grace had 13 catches for 205 yards and a touchdown and Tait Stephens had 15 tackles.
HSU will next be in action on Sept. 14 when it hosts Linfield at noon.