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Last Week Linfield 42, Cal Lutheran 26, NCAA Division III playoffs, first round
This Week Linfield at St. Thomas, O’Shaughnessy Stadium, St. Paul, Minn., 10 a.m. PST
Next Week NCAA quarterfinals, Saturday, Dec. 4, pairings, location to be determined
The Game Linfield and St. Thomas (Minn.) meet for the second time on Saturday, Nov. 27, in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs...St. Thomas advanced to the second round with a 57-10 home-field victory over Benedictine (Ill.)…Linfield overcame an early 6-0 deficit at home to defeat Cal Lutheran 42-26 in its first-round contest…Saturday's winner advances to a quarterfinal matchup against the winner of the other West Region game between Bethel (Minn.) and Wheaton (Ill.).
The Records Linfield is 9-1…Linfield completed the regular season with an 8-1 overall record and a spotless 6-0 mark in the Northwest Conference…the Wildcats claimed their second consecutive NWC championship and 34th title overall…the ‘Cats have won nine straight games and 21 of their last 23… St. Thomas, 11-0 overall, is champion of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference...UST knocked off perennial MIAC champion St. John’s in overtime on the way to clinching its first outright league title since 1983 (the Tommies shared a MIAC title in 1990)…last season, St. Thomas reached the playoffs for the first time in 19 years and advanced the NCAA quarterfinals for the second time in its 105-year history…the Tommies’ storybook 2009 season came to an end in McMinnville when they suffered a 31-20 loss to the Wildcats…Linfield advanced to the 2009 national semifinals where they dropped a 27-17 decision to eventual national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater.
The Streak With a 35-20 victory five weeks ago over Pacific Lutheran, Linfield clinched its 55th consecutive winning season, extending the program’s all-divisions national record…the streak began in 1956 under late coach Paul Durham…Linfield has had just five head coaches during the streak…the streak of winning seasons spans six decades and the terms of 12 U.S. presidents…the Wildcats came close to finishing with a below .500 record three times during a 26-year span that began in 1971…each time, in 1971, ’87 and ’96, the Wildcats rose to the occasion and won a game or two to finish 5-4 and ensure a winning campaign…this fall, perennial winner Nebraska Wesleyan saw its active streak of consecutive winning seasons ended when the Prairie Wolves finished 4-6.
The Polls Linfield concluded the regular season ranked No. 8 in the d3football.com poll and 12th in the American Football Coaches Association poll…the Wildcats began the season ranked No. 4…UST is currently ranked No. 4 by D3football.com and fifth by AFCA.
The Series Second meeting…Linfield won the only head-to-head matchup 31-20 last season in McMinnville...in the sport of softball, the two schools have met three times previously with Linfield winning twice…both schools have won NCAA Division III softball titles and remain national powerhouses...Linfield won the Division III softball title in 2007.
The Playoffs No stranger to the postseason, Linfield qualified for the playoffs for the 22nd time in school history…the Wildcats are making their seventh appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs since changing affiliation from the NAIA to NCAA 13 years ago…Linfield won three NAIA Division II national championships in 1982, 1984 and 1986 and captured the 2004 NCAA Division III title…the Wildcats also played for the NAIA crown three other times (1961, 1965 and 1992)…Linfield takes a 28-17 postseason record into Saturday's game and is 13-5 in NCAA playoff contests…St. Thomas is making its fourth playoff appearance in program history (1983, 1990, 2009, 2010)…including last week’s playoff victory, the Tommies are 4-2 all-time in the NCAA playoffs and 4-3-1 all-time in the postseason.
The Coaches Fifth-year coach Joseph Smith (Linfield ‘93) is 39-11...he was named NWC Coach of the Year for the second straight season…in 2009, he also garnered West Region and American Football Monthly Division III Coach of the Year honors…Smith’s winning percentage of .780 is comparable to former Linfield coaching greats Jay Locey (.824), Ed Langsdorf (.774), Ad Rutschman (.788) and Paul Durham (.694)…Smith served as an assistant coach at Linfield for 13 seasons, including six as defensive coordinator…he was an NAIA All-America defensive back under Langsdorf and Linfield’s male athlete of the year in 1992, leading the Wildcats to the NAIA Division II national championship final… UST coach Glenn Caruso (Ithaca ‘96) is in his third season in charge of the Tommies program…he brings a career record of 29-5 into Saturday’s game…before Caruso’s arrival, St. Thomas went 2-8 in 2007…the Tommies then completed the third-greatest turnaround in Division III history by finishing 7-3 in 2008…Caruso has developed a national reputation for program turnarounds, helping Macalester double its number of wins in two seasons from 2006 to 2007…he also spent time as offensive coordinator at Division II South Dakota (two years) and North Dakota State (six years), helping elevate both those programs to prominence.
Last Meeting - Wildcats 31, Tommies 20 (Dec. 5, 2009 at McMinnville, Ore.): Linfield made enough big plays to turn away a talented and well-coached Tommies team…tailback Simon Lamson scored on three short touchdowns runs, gaining a career-high 85 yards on 23 carries…quarterback Aaron Boehme completed 18 of 36 passes for 256 yards and one TD to Trevor Patterson…in all, the Wildcats totaled 356 yards, 220 of those coming in the first half when Linfield built a 24-14 advantage…defensively, the Wildcats forced the Tommies into giving up a season-high five turnovers, including two interceptions by monsterback Christian Hanna…linebacker Paul Partlow and rover Kole Krieger each recorded eight tackles and safety Drew Fisher had seven tackles and blocked a punt that set up Boehme’s 12-yard TD toss to Patterson late in the second quarter…linebacker Alex Tkachuk and cornerback Nate Dixon both pounced on fumbles…cornerback Taylor Skore intercepted his fourth pass of the season while also contributing three solo tackles…kicker Maika Kunioka booted a career-best 41-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
Audiocast The game will be broadcast live on radio station KLYC (1260 AM) with Bill Johnson and Dave Hansen calling the action…the broadcast can be heard over the telephone via TEAMLINE, a pay-per-listen service…call 1-800-846-4700 and enter code 9712…internet users can hear the game via broadcast Stretch Internet…visit the Linfield Athletics Web site at www.linfield.edu/sports and click on "Listen Live.”
Videocast St. Thomas is making available a live video broadcast stream free of charge via the Minnesota Sports Broadcast Network…no special software is required to view the broadcast.
Travel The Wildcats depart Thursday for the Twin Cities and will practice Friday in St. Paul…the team is expected to return to Oregon immediately following the game and should arrive at Portland International Airport by 8 p.m. Saturday night.
Lodging The team is staying Thursday and Friday nights at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul Riverfront...discounted rooms are available for families and fans by using group booking code A08.
CAL LUTHERAN GAME NOTES
After falling 47-42 to Cal Lutheran in the season’s opening weekend, Linfield evened the score Saturday with a 42-26 win over the Kingsmen. For the second time in as many seasons, Cal Lutheran’s season ended with a first-round playoff loss at Maxwell Field. Simon Lamson and Eric Hedin were the difference makers for the ‘Cats. Lamson tallied 99 yards rushing and four touchdowns, giving him 15 TDs this year and equaling the fourth-highest total in a single season. Running the football proved to be a key difference in the game. The ‘Cats gained 197 yards on the ground while holding the Kingsmen to just 97 yards rushing. Hedin, the NWC Defensive Player of the Year, led Linfield with 10 tackles, including three sacks and three other tackles for loss. Cal Lutheran got off to the start it had hoped for, scoring on a 39-yard touchdown reception by Eric Rodgers less than six minutes into the game. Linfield responded with a Buddy Saxon 27-yard touchdown catch four minutes later. Lamson extended the lead to 14-6 with a short run at the 10:16 mark of the second quarter. With both teams exchanging blows, the Wildcats won the game with two key drives, one to close the first half and the other to start the second half. Following a Cal Lutheran score which cut the Linfield lead to 14-12 with 1:36 remaining in the first half, the Wildcats answered back with a five-play, 59-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Aaron Boehme, who surpassed 6,000 career passing yards in the game, started the drive with four straight completions, two of which gained more than 20 yards. With 34 seconds left, Simon Lamson pushed the ‘Cats to a 21-12 halftime advantage with a 4-yard touchdown run. Linfield opened the second half with a seven-play, 62-yard scoring scoring march. Deidre Wiersma, who caught two passes for 52 yards, opened the drive with a 52-yard reception. Lamson capped off the drive with his third touchdown run. On a day in which he caught nine passes for 103 yards, Buddy Saxon put the game away with a third-quarter score, his second touchdown reception of the afternoon.
Complete Game Story and Statistics
ST. THOMAS GAME NOTES
There is no mistaking the challenge the Wildcats face in their second-round matchup with the Tommies in the sub-freezing climate of St. Paul, Minn. Not only must the ‘Cats deal with a St. Thomas club that has steamrolled through its schedule, but they now must contend with frigid cold of the Midwest. With wind-chill readings below 20 degrees last Saturday, the Tommies rolled up an impressive 644 yards of offense on the Eagles. Scoring 36 first-half points was all St. Thomas needed to cruise into the second round. Leading an offense that comes into Saturday averaging 434.5 yards per game is a dynamic running game that features a two-back system. Senior Ben Wartman and junior Colin Tobin have combined to rush for 1,693 yards and 23 touchdowns. The two have shared the load equally, as Wartman has gained 887 yards and Tobin has rushed for another 808. Behind center for the Tommies is dual-threat quarterback Dakota Tracy, who has thrown for 1,497 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 335 more yards and five scores. Completing 64.9 percent of his passes, Tracy has averages 149.7 yards passing per game. Tracy has one of the best wide receivers in the country in junior Fritz Waldvogel, a returning All-American. Waldvogel has caught 67 passes for 979 yards and seven TDs, all team highs. He is also the x-factor in the return game. At 6-foot-4, lanky wideout Rickey Margarit is another viable option and the junior comes in averaging 21 yards per catch. The heart and soul of the St. Thomas machine is found on the defensive side of ball. The defensive unit has given up just 10.9 points per game, allowing the Tommies to outscore their opponents 463-120. St. Thomas has piled up an eye-popping 27 sacks and 17 interceptions. With a team-high 60½ tackles, junior linebacker Tony Danna is the heart of the defense. Danna has also added three sacks and three other tackles for loss. The Tommies like to place pressure on the quarterback with junior linebacker Willy Baregi, who has a team-high six sacks among his 10½ tackles for loss. Lurking in the secondary is playmaker Brady Ervin. The senior defensive back has a team-best six interceptions while ranking third on the club with 32 tackles. Sophomore Tim Albright handles the kicking duties for the Tommies. Albright has made 3-of-6 field goals, with his longest conversion coming from 36 yards away. Freshman Garrett Maloney comes in averaging 39.3 yards per punt. Seven of Maloney’s punts have been downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Linfield's 'other' end has seven sacks in nine games
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