McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Aaron Boehme threw for two touchdowns and
ran for another as Linfield built a 49-point halftime lead on its
way to a 66-14 Northwest Conference blowout victory over Pacific
Saturday afternoon at sun-splashed Maxwell Field. The lopsided
triumph on Homecoming weekend set up a crucial conference showdown
for first place next Saturday at Pacific Lutheran.
Linfield (4-1, 3-0 NWC) continued its dominating defensive play with a solid all-around effort against Pacific (0-5, 0-3 NWC), which recently jumpstarted its program after a 20-year hiatus. The 'Cats limited the Boxers to 273 yards of offense and 10 first downs. All-star end Eric Hedin spearheaded the Linfield defense with seven tackles and four sacks to a match career-high.
On the offensive side of the football, the Wildcats rolled up 557 yards of total offense. Before being replaced midway through the second quarter, Boehme completed 10-of-12 passes for 171 yards.
Linfield got to work early and often, scoring less than two minutes into the game. Following two Boehme passes that moved the ball into Pacific territory, Simon Lamson gashed the Boxers defense for a 39-yard touchdown run.
Pacific answered back, tying the game at seven on a 79-yard touchdown pass from P.J. Minaya to wide receiver Jordan Fukumoto. Having to beat just one level of Linfield defenders, Fukumoto caught a short pass on the sideline before racing free for the Boxers long play from scrimmage of the season. The long scoring strike was the second-longest pass play in Pacific history.
Provided with an early wakeup call, the 'Cats rode the hot hand of Boehme on their second drive. The senior started the game 5-of-6 passing on the Wildcats' first two drives, throwing for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Following Fukumoto's touchdown reception, Linfield took a 14-7 lead four plays later. Chris Slezak, who had 52 yards of receiving on the drive, hauled in a 23-yard TD pass from Boehme at the 10:41 mark of the first quarter.
After Pacific went three-and-out, Linfield kept the heat on with a four-play, 55-yard scoring march. Deidre Wiersma capped it off by slipping free on a wide receiver screen pass for a 27-yard touchdown score.
The Wildcats prevented the Boxers from getting any rhythm on offense. During the first quarter, Pacific ran only one play inside Linfield territory. Quarterback T.C. Campbell, who was forced into action after Minaya suffered a game-ending injury, was victimized by first-quarter interceptions from Taylor Skore and Brandon Funk.
Leading 21-7, Boehme gave the 'Cats a lead that would never be challenged with a 37-yard touchdown run at the 1:49 mark of the first quarter.
From there, the blowout was on. Wildcats tailback Taylor Avritt slammed home a 5-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the second quarter to extend the Linfield lead to 35-7.
With the Linfield offense and defense clicking on all cylinders, the special teams joined the action with a blocked punt by Eric Biege midway through the second quarter. Giving the 'Cats the ball on the 10-yard line, backup quarterback Cole Bixenman got Linfield in the end zone with a 4-yard scoring toss to Conner Varnell.
A 9-yard touchdown throw from Bixenman to Joe Kloucek with 1:38 remaining in the half pushed the score to 49-7.
Linfield's 340 first-half yards resulted in 17 first downs and no punts.
With the game out of reach, the Linfield reserves saw all of the action in the second half. Josh Hill finished the game with a team-high 54 yards on seven carries in the second half.
Bixenman completed 3-of-3 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown, while Mickey Inns completed 2-of-5 passes for 32 yards. Inns gave the Wildcats a 59-7 advantage with a 9-yard touchdown pass to David Hurn.
With 12:52 remaining in the fourth quarter, Josh Yoder became the fourth Linfield quarterback to throw for a touchdown, hooking up with Michael Chopp for a 20-yard score.
Wiersma was the Wildcats top receiver, tallying five catches for 82 yards and a score.
Campbell completed 7-of-15 passes for 88 yards in the loss. Fukomoto grabbed a team-high four catches for 106 yards.
'CAT SCRATCH: Saturday's announced attendance was 3,276. . .14 Wildcats carried the ball in the game and five different quarterbacks saw action. . . Linfield's 66 points was three short of equaling the modern-era scoring record of 69 points set against Menlo in 2004.
NEXT: Linfield resumes action Saturday with a road game against Pacific Lutheran at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Wash. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m.