Playing for a packed Homecoming-day crowd at Maxwell Field on Oct. 8, the No. 05-ranked Linfield Wildcats put on a clinic in a 73-7 rout with the University of Puget Sound Loggers.
The ’Cats dominated every aspect of the game, amassing 490 yards of offense while limiting the Loggers’ high-octane passing game to only 201 yards, four interceptions and two fumbles. The Wildcats did not surrender a turnover.
“I was really pleased with how our guys prepared all week,” head coach Joseph Smith said. “They had great focus. This was certainly as good a performance as a team as we’ve had in a long time.”
The scoring started early and continued at a staggering pace for the entire contest. Junior tailback Josh Hill darted 12 yards for the first Linfield touchdown to cap a drive that only took 1:01 off the clock.
On UPS’ next drive, sophomore linebacker Dominique Forrest sacked Logger quarterback George Ka’ai and caused a fumble, which was scooped up by sophomore linebacker Tyler Robitaille. A handful of plays later, junior tailback Aaron Williams scampered in for a four-yard touchdown to make the score 14-0.
“Our coaches did a good job of telling us where the holes would be,” sophomore receiver Charlie Poppen said. “They called the right plays at the right times.”
After another sack of Ka’ai gave Linfield another opportunity to score, junior kicker Josh Kay hammered a 49-yard field goal to boost the lead to 17-0.
Kay also set the all-time Linfield record for extra points in a single game by finishing with a perfect 10 for 10.
Junior quarterback Mickey Inns added a one-yard touchdown toss to sophomore tight end Jacob Priester at the start of the second quarter, his first of three on the day.
Robitaille and Forrest each had interceptions of Logger quarterbacks, the latter setting up a 45-yard dash to the end zone by junior tailback Stephen Nasca to put Linfield ahead 31-0.
“I pride myself on making the best of every opportunity I’m given,” Nasca said. “When my name’s called I always want to be prepared.”
Senior cornerback Christian Hanna sparked a scoring frenzy in the final six minutes of the first half by picking off a pass by Loggers quarterback James Korn and returning it 33 yards for a touchdown.
Senior rover Taylor Skore picked off another Korn throw on UPS’ next series, and Inns fired a 37-yard touchdown pass to Poppen on the next play.
Senior defensive tackle Tommy Patrick fell on a fumble by UPS receiver Ross Zuhl to set up Inns’ final touchdown throw, a 25-yard bomb to junior Lucas Jepson.
Robitaille added to the Loggers’ struggles by blocking a punt that was run in 3 yards for a touchdown by sophomore safety Colin Foreman.
At the half, the ’Cats already lead 59-0.
“With a veteran secondary, it’s a lot easier to keep the pass coverages up,” Forrest said. “Turnovers are always something we want to improve on in-game.”
The starters left the field in the second half and gave way to the younger Wildcats, but the scoring continued nevertheless.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Yoder had a 10-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Colin Nelson and freshman tailback Trevor Gomez scooted in for a score on a four-yard run, making it a 73-0 margin.
The Loggers finally found the end zone with third-string quarterback Braden Foley tossing a 7-yard score at the end of the third quarter.
Neither team scored in the fourth to leave the score at 73-7.
“You just love seeing the young guys get a chance to go play,” Smith said. “They get to enjoy the fruits of their labor after working so hard for us.”
Next week, the ’Cats travel to Forest Grove to compete against the Pacific University Boxers, a team still seeking its first victory of the season.
“We need to strive for perfect technique,” senior center Hayden Mace said. “Coach Smith preaches that it’s not who we’re playing, we’re playing ourselves.”
Chris Forrer/Sports columnist
Chris Forrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.