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LOS ANGELES — The Occidental football team played well on defense for a big portion of its home opener, but surrendering too many short fields and some offensive struggles cost Oxy in a 25-6 loss to Willamette at Jack Kemp Stadium on Saturday.
Sam Meinhard had a big day for the Tigers, leading the game with 10 tackles in the middle of Oxy's defense. Jackson Caudle made eight tackles, Raffi Tatizian and Garrett Pittman each made seven, and Harrison Wakefield and Sean Crotty each had five.
John Gayden and Conor Saludares each had a sack for Oxy.
Lucas Savoie was the highlight on offense for Oxy, catching six passes for 88 yards and Oxy's touchdown in the fourth quarter. Oxy quarterback Josh Greaves finished the game 14 for 26 for 157 yards and one touchdown, and running back DJ Adams had five receptions for 43 yards.
Jeremiah James led Willamette with seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. Willamette quarterback Matthew Castaneda had 262 passinig yards with one touchdown pass and one rushing touchdown.
First Half: Oxy's defense looked sharp and held Willamette scoreless for the first 26 minutes of the game, including a pair of stops on fourth down with the Bearcats threatening from inside Oxy's 10-yard line. The first stop was the first play of the second quarter on 4th and Goal from the 2-yard line, and the second was a fake field goal attempt from the 8-yard line.
After Oxy got the ball back with 3:59 to play, the Tigers coughed up a fumble and Willamette's Caine Farmer scored the half's only touchdown on the next play.
Oxy looked like it might get out of the first half down just one score, but Willamette countered on their next drive with a nice 2-minute drill, ending with KayLyn Stirton making a 21-yard field goal as time expired.
Oxy had a pair of plays that looked like they might go for touchdowns, but each time the ball fell incomplete. Savoie took a double reverse pass and nearly hit Adams down the field, but his pass caught some air and was a touch underthrown. Early in the first quarter Greaves looked like he had Adams behind the defense, but the pass was broken up nicely on a diving effort by Marcus Cutler.
Second Half: Preston Boyle scored Willamette's first points of the second half, blocking an Oxy punt that went out of the end zone for a safety in the third quarter.
The Tigers' best scoring drive of the game came midway through the fourth quarter. Greaves was able to find Adams on a couple of shovel passes and Savoie down the field for multiple completions. The scoring drive ended with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Greaves to Savoie.
Jeramiah James had a 12-yard touchdown reception and Castaneda ran in a score on a quarterback keeper for the Bearcats.
Season Impact: The Tigers fall to 1-1 on the season. Oxy beat CETYS of Mexicali, Mexico in its season opener.
Willamette improves to 1-1. The Bearcats played NCAA Division II Simon Fraser of Canada in their opener.
Next Game: Oxy is back in action next weekend, playing at Cal Lutheran on Saturday. The Tigers' next home game is the Battle for the Shoe against Whittier on Oct. 6 at 1 p.m.Follow Oxy Athletics on Twitter Sign Up for Newsletters Watch on Youtube Follow us on Instagram