THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Facing the team that ended its
season in 2009, the No. 25 Cal Lutheran football team exacted
revenge with a 47-42 victory over No. 4 Linfield on Saturday at Mt.
Clef Stadium. The Kingsmen overcame a 21-point first half deficit
and received 202 rushing yards and three touchdowns from junior
Daniel Mosier en route to the upset win.
In the fourth quarter Cal Lutheran used 24 points, including touchdown runs of 45 and 49 yards from Mosier to complete the comeback.
"Our inexperience playing together showed in the first half. Linfield came out and punched us right between the eyes," CLU head coach Ben McEnroe said. "We went in at halftime and told our guys to relax and have fun."
At halftime Mosier had eight yards on eight carries and he came back with 10 carries 194 yards in the second half.
After Linfield scored 28 unanswered points during the first half, the Kingsmen responded by scoring in bunches themselves. They scored the next 24 points of the game including a 17-point run in just over seven minutes of game time. Late in the fourth, CLU posted 17 more unanswered points with just over five minutes ticking off the clock.
The two teams combined for 932 total yards of offense with the Wildcats racking up 507 and the Kingsmen accounting for 425.
Trailing 28-7 with five minutes to play in the first half, CLU junior quarterback Jake Laudenslayer orchestrated a 10-play, 67 yard drive that included three consecutive first down passes with completions of 18, 20 and 22 yards. Mosier capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, his first score of the contest.
Laudenslayer completed 11-of-21 passes for 173 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his CLU debut.
Momentum seemed to switch to CLU's sideline when the Kingsmen forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and it was recovered by junior kicker Jackson Damron. With a chance to cut the halftime lead to 11, Damron missed a 32-yard field goal attempt wide right at the end of the half.
On its second possession of the third quarter, Cal Lutheran displayed effectiveness with its run game as Mosier and junior Bobby Rodrigues accounted for 72 yards on the drive, highlighted by a 59-yard carry from Mosier down the right sideline that would eventually setup a 29-yard field goal by Damron and cut Linfield's lead to 28-17.
"Against a great rush defense like they have you just have to be patient and take the opportunities," McEnroe said. "I thought Clay Richardson did a great job getting our quarterbacks ready and calling the right plays at the right time."
After a pair of first downs for the Wildcats on their next drive, CLU junior linebacker Loren Powers intercepted Aaron Boehme for the second time and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown and after a failed extra point, the Kingsmen trailed by five.
Although Boehme finished with 361 yards through the air and four touchdown passes, the Kingsmen intercepted him three times. Powers accounted for two and the other came on Linfield's first drive of the game after it held the ball for over seven minutes, CLU senior defensive back Brett Lewis snagged a batted pass and returned it 97 yards to the one-yard line, setting up the first score of the game, a one-yard touchdown run by Rodrigues.
CLU forced a punt and took eight plays to go 84 yards for the go-ahead score on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Laudenslayer to Richard. The quarterback found sophomore wide receiver Eric Rogers for a two-point conversion and CLU led 31-28.
Richard and Rogers each hauled in three passes for the game and they totaled 53 and 50 yards, respectively.
Linfield quickly ended the celebration as Aaron Williams took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage and scampered 71 yards down to the CLU three and two plays later he scored and reclaimed the lead for the Wildcats.
A Damron field goal on the next CLU drive cut the Kingsmen deficit to 35-34 and then a three-and-out forced by CLU setup Mosier's 45-yard touchdown run for a 40-35 lead after a failed two-point attempt.
Another three-and-out gave the Kingsmen the ball back and on the second play from scrimmage, Mosier was at it again with a 49-yard scoring run to put CLU up 12.
Senior defensive end Jordan Barta, who had been a pest in the Linfield backfield all day, helped put the game away as he sacked Boehme and forced a fumble that was recovered by junior Sean Post.
Barta had three sacks on the day, part of his 6.5 tackles to go along with two pass breakups.
The Wildcats would add a late touchdown to account for the 47-42 score, but the ensuing onside kick attempt was handled by CLU senior safety Wes Garwood to seal the victory.
CLU sophomore safety Broc Galbreth led the Kingsmen with seven tackles and Erik Chavez tallied six.
The season-opening victory for CLU was the first since the 2006 campaign and the first under McEnroe. With the win the Kingsmen snapped Linfield's 21-0 record against teams from California since joining the NCAA in 1998.
"We like to play a tough game early and we've been close the last couple of years in that opener but just haven't found a way to get it done," McEnroe said. "Today we made some breaks and got it done."
Cal Lutheran (1-0) will hit the road next week for another Northwest Conference opponent as it faces Pacific Lutheran on Sept. 18 in Tacoma, Wash. Kickoff is slated for 12:30 p.m.