’Cats fumble in Calif.
The Wildcats appeared to be picking up right where they left off at California Lutheran University to begin
the 2010 season, following a 12-1 finish a year prior. But after going up 28-14 in the first half, the ’Cats were
outscored 33-14 the rest of the way, en route to losing their first regular season game, 42-47, in more than
Kingsmen tailback junior Daniel Mosier led CLU down the stretch with 202 yards rushing and three
touchdowns, and the normally water-tight Wildcat offense choked up the ball five times down the stretch.
“It’s an emotional loss for us,” head football coach Joseph Smith said. “We couldn’t put the game away,
and it gave them life in the second half. We turned the ball over, and they got their running game going.”
Normally rock-steady senior quarterback Aaron Boehme was intercepted on Linfield’s opening drive
following a 64-yard march down the field to the CLU 4-yard line. The pick was returned 97 yards to the
Linfield 1-yard line, and Kingsmen running back Bobby Rodriguez blasted in for a touchdown on the
following play to go up 7-0. Boehme finished the day with 361 yards in the air and four touchdowns, but
was intercepted three times and lost a fumble. These are uncharacteristic numbers for the defending
Northwest Conference Offensive player of the year, who went several games at a time last season without
surrendering a turnover.
“I’m very disappointed
with my performance. I just need to get the job done and take care of the football,” Boehme said.
Linfield answered with a 71-yard drive of its own, capped by a 1-yard charge into the end zone by
senior running back Taylor Avritt to tie the score at seven apiece. Boehme’s woes continued with another
interception on the ’Cats’ next drive, but junior cornerback Taylor Skore picked off a CLU pass shortly after
to bring the offense back on the field.
From there the Wildcats took control of the half. Linfield scored on three successive drives, capped
by 18-, 21- and 27-yard touchdown strikes to junior Deidre Wiersma, Avritt and junior Buddy Saxon,
respectively. After Moser scored his first touchdown, a 1-yard scamper with about two minutes left in the
half, the Wildcats led 28-14.
“Offensively I’d give us a ‘B’ in the first half,” junior center Hayden Mace said. “We marched the ball down
their throats the entire first half, and realistically the game should’ve been 42-7 at halftime.”
Mace was one of three offensive linemen who got a career start last Saturday. Others included seniors
Kaninau and Travis Tocher. The offensive line protected Boehme in the first half, but as CLU began to fight
back in the second half, things began to unravel.
“We were beaten man-to-man on offense,” Smith said. “I was not pleased with how our offensive line
played, and that’s something that will get better.”
Following punts by both teams, the Kingsmen surge began with a 29-yard field goal by CLU junior kicker
On Linfield’s next drive, a Boehme pass from scrimmage at the Wildcat 40-yard line was tipped,
intercepted and ran back 45 yards for a touchdown. The score stood at 28-23, Wildcats.
“CLU’s rushing attack really took off in the second half,” Avritt said. “And their defense brought the
pressure to Boehme, too.”
The Kingsmen struck again less than a minute after the fourth quarter and took the lead for the first time
at 31-28. The Wildcats answered on a 71-yard explosion by junior running back Aaron Williams to set up
a 1-yard touchdown run on an ensuing play. The ’Cats would not find the end zone again until the game’s
closing minutes, and Boehme was sacked twice in the final period.
“I felt very sick at the end of the game when I looked at Boehme’s jersey and saw how dirty it was,” Mace
said. “Our goal up front is to keep him off the ground, and we didn’t do a very good job of that in the second
half on Saturday.”
CLU added a 42-yard field goal and two touchdown runs by Moser of 45 and 49 yards to buff their lead to
47-35. The ’Cats’ last real chance to change the game, with 3 minutes, 35 seconds
left on the clock. It ended with a Boehme sack and fumble, which was recovered by Kingsmen junior
defender Sean Post. Boehme would score again, with 28 seconds left, on a 28-yard pass to freshman
receiver Conner Varnell.
Despite the loss, there were many positive notes to take from the contest. Smith said racking up more
than 500 yards of total offense and over 40 points is always a good thing. But, he added there were many
problems with fundamentals that he intends to fix in the coming two weeks before the Wildcats go on the
road again Sept. 25 to University of La Verne in California.
“I questioned our readiness a bit,” Smith said. “Mid-week, I was concerned we weren’t up to full intensity.
We had some over-exertion issues, and once the game turned into a dogfight many of these things came to
the surface.”With a painful loss under their belts, the Wildcats will use the game and the feelings it produced as
motivation as the season goes on.
“I won’t forget that feeling as we prepare for the rest of the season,” Mace said.
Chris Forrer can be reached at email@example.com.