Pios win third straight Wagon Wheel

Photo by Cole Petters
Photo by Cole Petters

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers scored the first 26 points in Saturday's 49-34 win over the Willamette Bearcats at Griswold Stadium. In doing so, the Pios defended the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy for a second consecutive year and picked up their third victory in a season for the first time since 2012.

Senior quarterback Caden Voges went 24 for 39 for 275 yards and three touchdowns as the Pioneers scored 40 points in the first half for the first time since at least 2007. Voges added a 1-yard sneak for another TD and threw a completion to eight different receivers.

Roger Hernandez, Deriontae Green and Makana LaBoy each had an interception with Hernandez returning his 23 yards for a touchdown. Lewis & Clark (3-3, 2-2 NWC) had three sacks, including the first of Ari Blemur's career, and four takeaways total.

Lewis & Clark's 49 points are its most against the Bearcats since winning 51-41 in 1991.

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Key Moments

Nine plays into Willamette's opening possession, Keola Palau knocked the ball free from Bearcats running back Miles Bryant. While trying to scoop it, LaBoy rolled the fumble into Willamette territory and Lewis & Clark started with the ball at the Bearcats 44. Set up by his 31-yard catch and run on a screen pass, Michael Abraham scored a 9-yard rush on the fourth play of the drive and the Pioneers led 7-0.

After failing on fourth down the drive before, Willamette's third possession ended when Hernandez picked off quarterback Mathew Castaneda and ran it back for a 23-yard score, the first of his career. Voges ran a sneak for a touchdown that moved the Pios up 20-0 at the end of the first and then threw a screen to Evan Powers who scored his first career touchdown pass, a 7-yarder, and the Pioneers led 26-0.

"Caden played really well," wide receiver Kevin Johnson said, who had career highs with eight receptions for 95 yards. "He doesn't get enough credit for what he does. He takes shots and continues to deliver the ball. He's the MVP of our season so far."

Voges and Castaneda entered Saturday tied for third in the Northwest Conference in touchdown passes and both increased their number. Castaneda finished 34 for 71 for 424 yards and five touchdowns, all of which are the most against the Pioneers this year. Max Andersen caught 14 of his passes, three for touchdowns, and totaled 247 yards. The Bearcats (1-5, 0-4 NWC) scored twice before halftime, both Andersen TD receptions, and added two more on their first two possessions of the second half. From the 13:36 mark of the second quarter until 5:33 left in the third, only two combined possessions ended without points: one because of halftime and the other a Lewis & Clark punt.

Willamette pulled to within 40-27 on Andersen's third touchdown of the game, but on the extra-point try by Kyla Gordon, Anakin Mares blocked the kick and LaBoy returned it the length of the field to score two points for the Pioneers and a 42-27 edge. Abraham scored his eighth rushing touchdown of the season on the ensuring drive and Lewis & Clark led 49-27.

Deeper Look

  • In addition to matching their highest win total since 2012, when the Pios went 4-5, Lewis & Clark has three wins for just the fourth time since 2003
  • Lewis & Clark's three-game winning streak over Willamette is its longest against the Bearcats since winning four-in-a-row from 1989-92
  • Saturday was Lewis & Clark's third three-interception game in the last two seasons including the Pios' 39-21 at Willamette in 2018
  • Mares had 10 tackles and five pass break-ups, both career firsts
  • He is tied for fourth in the NWC with 10 pass break-ups on the season
  • Voges completed 61 percent of his passes for the fourth time this year and third time with more than 35 attempts
  • Abraham had 24 carries for 91 yards, his third game this season with 20 or more carries
  • The Pioneers are 3-0 when this happens (and 3-1 when Voges completes 61 percent or better)
  • LaBoy has had a fumble recovery and an interception in back-to-back games against the Bearcats
  • Huero Lopez totaled 5.8 yards per attempt on his four carries and caught a pass for 22 yards
  • Sophomore transfer Jalen Lewis had a career-high four receptions for 40 yards
  • Caine Farmer added 10 catches for 88 yards and a score for Willamette
  • Bearcats linebacker Alec Stevenson, who is one of the best tacklers in the NWC, had a season-high 15 tackles
  • Willamette entered the game allowing the most yards of any team in the country this season, but outgained the Pioneers 441-380 and set a new season high

Looking Ahead

Lewis & Clark plays its next two games on the road starting on Nov. 2 against first-place Linfield.