Pios reclaim Wagon Wheel on last-second field goal

Pios reclaim Wagon Wheel on last-second field goal

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Freshman kicker Obed Eriza kicked a 33-yard field goal, a career long, as time expired leading the Lewis & Clark Pioneers to a 24-21 home victory over the Willamette Bearcats on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon at Griswold Stadium.

It was the Northwest Conference opener for both schools.

The win was the first for the Pioneers (2-1, 1-0 NWC) over the Bearcats since the 2000 season, breaking a 15-game skid to claim the "Wagon Wheel" awarded each year to the winner of the game. The game also marked the first time the Pios' have won back-to-back games in a season since 2012 when they won their first four games.

The Bearcats (0-3, 0-1 NWC) dropped their third consecutive game and fifth straight dating back to last season.

After a scoreless opening quarter and for much of the second, the home team finally broke the ice on the scoreboard with a 12-play, 67-yard drive covering 5:41 as sophomore Heisman Hosoda scored the first of his two touchdowns on the day with a 1-yard end-around. The balanced offensive attack was a series of eight rushes and four passes.

Freshman running back Michael Abraham was the Pios' workhorse of the drive, recording 40 of his team's 67 yards on the ground, highlighting a 22-yard gallop up the middle on a 2-and-6 to the Willamette 18-yard line.

For the game, Abraham was the team's leading rusher with 70 yards on 16 carries.

As the second half began and the rain continued to fall, the scoring heated up with a back-and-forth struggle, setting the tone of who had the ball last, was going to win the game.

After Willamette tied the score midway through the third quarter at 7-7, highlighted by an 83-yard by Willamette quarterback Matthew Castaneda (25 of 42, 220 yards), the home team moved ahead on freshman quarterback Sawyer May's 2-yard run. The drive originally began on WU's 9-yard line after the offensive snap sailed over the punter's head setting up a short field.

With the score 14-7 and entering the fourth quarter, the Bearcats' played catch up, again evening the score at 14-14.

Lewis & Clark regained its lead once again with under nine minutes to play as Hosoda caught a deflected 60-yard pass off the hands of teammate tight end Dallas Garreaud for a 21-14 lead. The play took a mere 25 seconds. 

Hosoda caught 5 passes for 98 yards on the day, while May connected on 18-of-28 passing for 197 yards.

Not to be denied, the Bearcats rallied once again as Castaneda, who threw for 220 yards and rushed for 140 on the ground for 360 of his team's 441 yards of total yards of offense, tossed a 40-yard touchdown pass to Joey Thurman to even the score at 21-21 with 2:17 remaining in the game.

Both team each had a possession over the next minute with failed four-and-outs, setting up the Pios' final drive heroics with 55 seconds remaining.  Lewis and Clark's final drive of 9 plays and 42 yards of five passes and three rushes with two time outs, pushed its possession to WU's 16-yard line setting up the game's winning tally.

Both teams combined for 24 points in the final 12 minutes.

On the defensive end, Pios' were led by freshman defensive back Makana LaBoy with a team-best eight tackles, while junior linebacker James Tostado had 6.5 tackles.

The Pioneers continue conference play traveling to Puget Sound on Oct. 7 at 1 p.m.