Two comebacks and a big interception with less than 30 seconds to play helped Menlo College hold on to a 24-17 football victory over Whitworth University on Saturday in Spokane, Wash. The Oaks are now off to a 4-0 start in 2011.
Junior defensive back Anthony Bendana intercepted a pass by Whitworth's Bryan Peterson in the end zone with just 28 seconds to play to seal the victory.
Menlo quarterback Matt Pelasasa marched the Oaks down the field for a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes. A 23-yard touchdown toss to Robert Adan gave the Oaks a 24-17 lead with only 1:43 left.
Adan continued his standout season with five catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He has caught seven TD passes in four games.
Pelasasa ended his afternoon going 14 of 32 for 167 yards with two TDs and one interception. Junior running back Kyle Campas rushed for 110 yards on 25 carries to lead the Oaks on the ground, while a swarming Menlo defense was able to seal the deal by accumulating 10 sacks -- three by junior Chris Tosello.
Whitworth picked off Pelasasa and returned it 35 yards to take a 7-3 lead early in the third quarter. Menlo responded with a 28-yard field goal by sophomore Kevin Kurtz, one of his three on the day, to cut the deficit to 7-6 with 10:11 remaining in the third.
Whitworth went back on top, 14-6, with 8:10 to go in the third on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
With the Oaks now trailing by eight, it was time for Pelasasa to atone for his earlier mistake and rally the offense, which had struggled up to that point.
After a short punt allowed Menlo to start the drive on the Whitworth 33, Pelasasa found Adan for a 33-yard TD strike to pull the Oaks within 14-12. Pelasas connected with Adan on the two-point conversion try and it was tied with 3:13 left in the third.
Whitworth's Drew Goranson nailed a 29-yard field goal to give the Pirates a 17-14 fourth-quarter advantage, but Menlo answered with Kurtz kicking a 40-yarder for a 17-17 tie to set up his team's eventual winning drive.
Menlo will be home for the first time since August 27 when the Oaks celebrate homecoming weekend on Saturday against Southern Oregon at noon.