WOU football wins home opener in dramatic fashion
MONMOUTH — Western Oregon’s first home football game since November 2019 was thoroughly entertaining, and completely thrilling at the end.
The Wolves (2-3) scored with 17 seconds left to cap an 89-yard drive and edge West Texas A&M 41-38 at McArthur Field.
The lead changed hands seven times in a wild battle that looked good for the Buffs after they scored on Khalil Harris’ 75-yard run to take a 38-34 lead with 4:38 remaining.
Moments later, Western Oregon faced a fourth-and-9 at its 12-yard line. Down to one timeout, the Wolves went for it, and junior quarterback Ryan Worthley connected with senior running back Andrew Valladares for 15 yards.
Worthley hit Valladares for 13 yards and senior Justice Murphy for 29 yards as the drive continued to the West Texas A&M 8. From there, and on second-and-7, Valladares used his quickness to get outside and into the end zone on a run play that lifted WOU into the lead.
The defense sealed the victory on the final play, with junior Joey Sinclair intercepting a Hail Mary at the Wolves’ 12.
Worthley passed for 379 yards (28 of 35) and two touchdowns. Five receivers had three or more catches, with junior Thomas Wright hauling on a 56-yard TD throw and Murphy scoring on a 19-yard reception. Junior Omari Land rushed for 98 yards and three touchdowns, and Valladares had 68 rushing yards and six catches for 95 yards.
Western Oregon had 553 yards of total offense, while the Buffs had 533.
The Wolves (1-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference) will be back on McArthur Field at 1 p.m. Saturday for their Homecoming game against Central Washington. The Wildcats are 3-2 after their 30-20 home upset of then-No. 11 Midwestern State Saturday at Ellensburg, Washington. Central Washington is 1-0 in the GNAC, owning a 36-14 win over Simon Fraser, which lost 24-7 to WOU.
Western Oregon and CWU will meet in another league game on Oct. 23 at Central Washington. Both teams have a bye next week.
Western Oregon got a huge victory on Thursday, stunning seventh-ranked Seattle Pacific 1-0 on an overtime goal by freshman Lilly Nowatzke at the WOU Soccer Field.
Two days later, WOU played visiting Montana State Billings to a 1-1 draw.
“This young team is growing so much with every game,” Western Oregon coach Kacey Bingham said of her squad, 2-5-1 overall and 1-2-1 in the GNAC.
Sophomore Chloe Smith fed Nowatzke in the box for the winning shot against Seattle Pacific in the 96th minute.
SPU came into the game 5-0-0 overall and came back Saturday with a 3-0 win at Saint Martin’s.
Against MSU Billings, freshman Piper Matson scored unassisted in the 52nd minute, after the Yellowjackets had gone up 1-0 in the first half.
Sophomore Emily Wheeler was in goal for both games, making four and five saves, respectively.
The Wolves have two GNAC games this week, at Central Washington on Thursday and at Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.
After GNAC losses last week on the road against Montana State Billings and Seattle Pacific, the Wolves are home to face Western Washington on Thursday and Simon Fraser on Saturday. Both matches start at 7 p.m.
Western Oregon took MSU Billings to five sets on Thursday and lost 3-0 to SPU on Saturday. The Wolves threatened to force a fourth set against Seattle Pacific, but SPU pulled out a 26-24 win in the third.
For the Wolves, sophomore Isabel Hurliman and freshman Bailee Hartsook each totaled 20 kills in the two matches. Hurliman added 27 digs.
The Wolves’ first race since Sept. 24 is Saturday in Romeoville, Illinois, in the Lewis Crossover hosted by Lewis University.