Last week the NCAA released its first set of regional rankings for Division III football, and Linfield checked in at first place in the West region. The Wildcats didn’t disappoint in their first week atop the regional ranking, sending the winless University of Puget Sound to a 0-8 ranking in a 47-7 victory.
The Linfield defense throttled the Loggers throughout, forcing five sacks and denying the opposition a touchdown until long after the starters had left the game.
Senior quarterback Mickey Inns had his most impressive game of the season, amassing 422 yards through the air to go with three touchdowns and a 69 percent completion rating.
Combined with a sharp game from junior backup quarterback Josh Yoder, Linfield quarterbacks set a single-game record with 541 total passing yards.
In the early going, it was senior kicker Josh Kay who got things going for the Wildcats, opening scoring with a 32-yard field goal to stake Linfield to a 3-0 lead.
Kay’s second attempt of the day was wide left from 32 yards, but freshman running back Jon Shaffer darted into the end zone from one yard shortly after to expand the lead to 10-0.
Kay got another opportunity late in the first half and capitalized, splitting the uprights from 27 yards to send the ’Cats into the locker room up 13-0.
The second half belonged to Inns, who tossed all three of his touchdown passes in the third quarter.
Inns found junior receiver Deidre Wiersma for a short nine-yard strike on Linfield’s first successful drive of the quarter. After more defensive dominance on the other side of the ball resulted in a punt, sophomore receiver Charlie Poppen hauled down a 28-yard lob from Inns to cap a seven-play drive that took less than two minutes.
Shortly before the end of the quarter, Inns and Wiersma hooked up again, this time on a 23-yard connection that ballooned Linfield’s lead to 34-0.
Wiersma topped 100 yards for the first time in several games, finishing with 133 yards to go with his two touchdown catches.
Yoder picked up right where Inns left off, tossing a 29-yard pass to freshman receiver Evan Patterson less than a minute into the fourth quarter. Puget Sound tailback Austin Wagner responded by scoring the Loggers’ only touchdown of the day on a 19-yard run on the ensuing drive.
Yoder had one more trick up his sleeve, hitting sophomore receiver Derek Priestly with a 19-yard missile to cap the score at 47-7. The backup quarterback’s final line was impressive: 58 passes completed, 119 yards and two touchdowns. Senior tailback Stephen Nasca led Linfield’s running back corps with 56 yards on the ground in his second game back from injury, although Shaffer scored the game’s only rushing touchdown.
The ’Cats retained their hold on the No. 3 spot in www.d3football.com’s Top 25 poll this week in addition to their No. 1 overall ranking in the West region. Should Linfield win its season finale at home against Pacific University, it would be in prime position to receive a No. 1 seed in the Division-III playoffs and secure the home-field advantage that comes with it.
For the Review
Photo courtesy of Sports Information
Junior defensive end Jeremy Girod fights off a block during the Puget Sound game on Nov. 3. Girod had six tackles and two sacks during the game.