Far away game, close score

by Caitlin Finneran McCarthy

The Sewanee Tigers traveled 2,500 miles last weekend to Salem, Oregon to play the Willamette Bearcats and, unfortunately, did not return to the Mountain with a win. After opening the season with a win on the redone Hardee-McGee field over DePauw University, the Tigers were pumped up to play their second game of the season against the Bearcats.

Halfway through the first quarter the Willamette team scored a touchdown, riling up the Tigers. Ready to retaliate, the Tigers took the ball 65 yards over the course of seven plays. With 8:12 minutes left in the quarter, fullback Andy Moots (C’16) took the ball 26 yards and scored a touchdown for Sewanee. Callum Wishart (C’16) made the extra point, giving the Tigers a 7-6 lead.

The Tigers’ success began to wane at this point, and Willamette scored back-to-back touchdowns during the second quarter. But the Tigers were not discouraged, and with a mere 22 seconds before halftime, quarterback Cody Daniel (C’16) sent the ball soaring to the back of the end zone and into the hands of receiver Stephen Jackson (C’17). At halftime the score was Willamette to Sewanee, 19-14.

Hyped up after their impressive score, the Tigers kept the Bearcats at bay and, after 12 plays, they scored yet another touchdown. The Willamette team undoubtedly began to worry at this point, as this brought the score to Willamette-Sewanee, 21-19.

With 11:04 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Bearcats scored another touchdown, but this did not deter the Tigers. Sewanee’s own Powers Spencer (C’17), playing in his first college away-game, raced the ball 72 yards past the Bearcats. After this huge gain, Curtis Johnson (C’14) finished it off with a one yard touchdown run. The game then took a negative turn, even after this stellar display by the Tigers.

Touching on the back and forth nature of the matchup, running back Devante Jones (C’ 16) said, “It was a very close game, we just have to stop with the unnecessary penalties. Penalties are major drive killers.” The Bearcats regained their lead with a last minute touchdown. With only 1:36 left on the clock, and a score of 33-28, an incomplete pass by the Tigers sealed the W for the Bearcats.

Asked about his thoughts on the game, Johnson had some thoughtful words, “We were extremely fortunate we had the opportunity to fly across the country and represent our school in what was a great match up. Smash-mouth football of the South vs. the a gun slinging west coast, two offenses with big play potential every snap of the ball. The game was a battle. Touchdown for touchdown, when they scored, we would answer, when we scored, they would answer.”

Despite this very close game and devastating loss, the Tigers outrushed the Bearcats with 378 yards to 108 yards, showcasing their offensive prowess. Quarterback Cody Daniel performed well with one touchdown and 27 passing yards. Fullback Andy Moots had a career-high 122 yards on 22 carries. Safety Quentin Jones (C’14) had a team-high eight tackles on the defense. Linebacker Brice Garrett (C’15) showed his prowess with seven stops, two tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.

Despite this tough loss, the Tigers are ready to take on upcoming opponents and make this the second best season after the undefeated season of 1899. As Curtis Johnson puts it, “Team 119 plans to do something special this year, something the Mountain hasn’t seen in a number of years.”