McMINNVILLE, Ore.- Tailback Josh Hill (Sr., Portland, Ore.) ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns and No. 7 Linfield pulled away in the second half for a 24-14 victory over 16th-ranked California Lutheran Saturday at Maxwell Field.
Linfield (1-0) generated 409 yards of total offense while the Wildcats' defense held the Kingsmen to 342 yards, including 160 in the second half. Both teams fought fatigue throughout the game as temperatures soared into the upper 90s.
Early on the Kingsmen (0-1) outplayed the Wildcats, scoring on their opening possession to take a quick 7-0 lead. Lanky receiver Eric Rogers scored on a 28-yard run to cap off a six-play, 58-yard drive. The extra point made it 7-0 Cal Lutheran with 3:11 left in the first quarter.
Linfield caught a break from its special teams midway through the second quarter but was unable to convert their good fortune for points. On a fourth-and-10 play, punter Josh Repp (Sr., Alta Loma, Calif.) passed 31 yards to James Testa to push the Wildcats deep inside Kingsmen territory. Linfield drove to the CLU 10, but Kingsmen defensive back Loren Powers intercepted quarterback Mickey Inns end the scoring threat.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, their experienced defense came up with a key stop as well.
Kalae’ Parish intercepted a Jacob Laudenslayer pass and returned it 10 yards to the CLU 25. This time, the 'Cats made the most of the turnover.
Five plays following the turnover, Hill rushed 1 yard into the end zone, tying the game at 7.
Cal Lutheran threatened again with a 24-yard pass completion and a short drive into Linfield territory, but it was Parish again who came up with a crucial sack to force fourth down and an eventual delay-of-game penalty on the Kingsmen.
The subsequent punt by Zach Shultis pinned Linfield at its own 1, but that wasn't enough to stop the 'Cats. Inns marched the team 94 yards in 11 plays to the CLU 5 where the Wildcats settled for a 22-yard field goal from Josh Kay. Linfield led 10-7 at the break.
Linfield's defense stiffened to start the second half while the offense began knocking on the door again.
Although Cal Lutheran picked off Inns once more inside the red zone, the Kingsmen continued to sputter on offense, allowing the Wildcats prime field position.
Hill, who gained 102 yards in the second half, found the end zone on a 3-yard run with 4:24 to play in the third quarter.
Feeling the pressure, Cal Lutheran answered right back.
Laudenslayer completed a pass to Rogers for his second touchdown of the game, pulling the visitors within a field goal at 17-14.
In the fourth quarter, Linfield seemed to kick it into another gear.
Inns marched the Wildcats 75 yards in six plays, a drive that included a career-long 43-yard run by Hill, and finished with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Inns to tight end Jacob Priester (Sr., Patterson, Calif.). With 8:07 left in the game, Linfield took a two-score advantage at 24-14.
Cal Lutheran marched back down the field but an interception by All-America safety Drew Fisher at the CLU 11 with less than three minutes to play was the final dagger for the Kingsmen.
Linebackers Dominique Forrest (Sr., Portland, Ore.) and Tim Edmonds (Sr., Portland, Ore.) were both solid in their first career starts for the Wildcats, combining for 19 tackles and two sacks. For the Kingsmen, Chris Carr totaled a game-high 13 tackles, including an 8-yard sack.
Inns, who began the game 1-for-6 with an interception, completed 9 of 23 passes with one touchdown and two interceptions in his starting debut.
NEXT UP: The 'Cats are idle in the coming week, giving them an extra week of preparation before hosting La Verne on Sept. 24. Kickoff is noon at Maxwell Field.
Sparks offense in second half
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