The Linfield Wildcats continued on their recent stretch of domination with a 63-0 blowout of the Lewis & Clark College Pioneers on the road Oct. 20.
The shutout marked the largest margin of victory in the history of the matchup and saw a stifling Linfield defense limit the Pioneers to only 207 total yards, while its high-octane offense rolled up 534 yards of its own.
Freshman tailback John Shaffer continued to dazzle with his play since stepping in for injured seniors Josh Hill and Stephen Nasca, scoring a game-high three touchdowns on the ground.
“It’s a good feeling that our team is firing on all cylinders,” Shaffer said via text message.
Before the offense had an opportunity to showcase its talent, junior middle linebacker Kyle Wright scored Linfield’s first special teams touchdown of the season on a punt return that went 75 yards into the end zone. The next long stretch of play turned into the “Shaffer Show,” as the tailback scored all three of his touchdowns on runs of 14, three, and eight yards in 11 minutes.
“It was nothing out of the ordinary, just a few adjustments here and there,” Shaffer said. “The linemen up front did the rest, paving wide-open holes.”
Senior quarterback Mickey Inns continued to help the offense score at will, floating a three-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Charlie Poppen. As time was expiring in the first half, Inns lobbed a 27-yard strike to senior receiver Lucas Jepson to make Linfield’s lead an insurmountable 42-0. The senior quarterback finished with 265 yards and interception-free. The Linfield defense did their part in the opening half, limiting Lewis & Clark’s powerhouse quarterback Keith Welch to four completions for 50 yards and an interception by junior safety Colin Foreman that was nearly returned for a touchdown.
“With all the three-and-outs, it gave the offense a short field to work with,” Shaffer said. “Makes it much easier on us.”
In the second half, Linfield’s second-string players replaced the starters and continued the rout. Junior quarterback Josh Yoder punched into the end zone on a four-yard run before connecting with sophomore receiver Evan Peterson for a 15-yard touchdown.
Reserve junior running back Mikkel Smythe capped the scoring with an eight-yard run near the end of the third quarter. Neither team would score in the fourth, preserving Linfield’s shutout at 63-0.
“Most importantly, we got the players who work their butts off all week on scout team into the game,” Shaffer said. “They deserve it.”
At 6-0 (3-0 Northwest Conference) the ’Cats remain at No. 3 in this week’s www.d3football.com Top 25 poll. After a loss by in-state rival Willamette, Linfield gains sole possession of first place in the NWC and now firmly controls its playoff fate. The Wildcats face Willamette on Oct. 27 at Maxwell Field before traveling to the University of Puget Sound on Nov. 3.
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Photo courtesy of Sports Information
Junior middle linebacker Kyle Wright rushes past the opposing team at the game against Lewis & Clark on Oct. 20, sweeping the game 63-0.