'Cats put the squeeze on the Oaks, win 38-0

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McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Tailback Simon Lamson scored three touchdowns, the Linfield defense held Menlo to 187 yards of total offense on the way to its first shutout of the season and the Wildcats rolled through the Oaks 38-0 in a nonconference game Saturday at Maxwell Field.

Linfield (6-1, 5-0 NWC) held Menlo (3-6) to just 10 first downs, while pitching its first shutout since the ninth game of the 2008 season. The Oaks had trouble generating a running game, rushing for only 94 yards on 37 carries.

The Wildcats clicked on all cylinders, slashing the Oaks for 457 yards of total offense, 291 of which coming through the air.

Linfield scored early and often, finding the end zone at the 12:27 mark of the first quarter. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Lamson went untouched into the end zone. Quarterback Aaron Boehme, who finished with a game-high 92 yards rushing, sparked the drive with a 34-yard run deep into Menlo territory.

After the two clubs exchanged punts, the Linfield defense had to overcome a special teams miscue. A 15-yard punt gave the Oaks the ball at the Linfield 28 but the Wildcats defense stiffened, forcing Menlo into a three-and-out.

On Linfield's next drive, the 'Cats were able to move the chains on third down, converting all four of their third-down attempts during the 13-play, 80-yard drive. Taylor Avritt caught two passes during the drive, the first coming on a screen play that went for 28 yards. Avritt put the 'Cats ahead 14-0 on a 3-yard touchdown reception.

The Menlo offense struggled to get in synch during the first 15 minutes, netting just 13 yards and two first downs. Linfield racked up 215 yards in the first quarter, while making 11 first downs.

Early in the second quarter, the Linfield defense bailed out another special teams miscue. After a muffed punt gave the ball back to Menlo at the Linfield 44, the 'Cats forced the Oaks to punt after three plays.

Taking over inside their own 5, the Wildcats pieced together a 10-play, 96-yard scoring drive. After making a first down at the 18, Boehme quickly shifted field position with a 47-yard pass to Chris Slezak. With one step on a Menlo defender, Slezak made a contested diving catch.

With 3:06 remaining in the half, Lamson capped off the drive with his second touchdown run of the afternoon, putting Linfield up 21-0 with a 1-yard score.

The Oaks appeared to have their first touchdown of the game with 41 seconds left in the half. After being flushed from the pocket, quarterback Cruz Castillo lofted a 34-yard pass to Michael Alexander in the end zone. Unfortunately for Menlo, the play was nullified by a holding penalty.

Linfield racked up 335 yards in the first half with Boehme leading the way with 202 passing yards. The senior quarterback added another 61 yards on the ground during the half.

With both teams struggling to move the ball during the third quarter, Linfield found the end zone for the fourth time at the 4:20 mark. A six-play, 63-yard drive was capped off by another Lamson scoring run, this time from five yards out.

Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter the Wildcats put the game on ice with Avritt's touchdown reception. Avritt's 14-yard score and second touchdown of the afternoon gave Linfield a 35-0 advantage.

Linfield added a late 45-yard field goal by freshman Jordan Walker.

Wildcats defensive end Eric Hedin continued his assault on quarterbacks, tallying three sacks. The senior now has a conference-best 16 sacks on the season, two short of the Linfield single-season record of 18. Linfield linebacker Dominique Forrest led the club with a team-high seven tackles in the win.

Boehme converted 20-of-37 passes for 287 yards. The dual-threat pivot added a team-high 92 yards rushing. Samson carried the ball 16 times for 60 yards.

Slezak topped the 'Cats with three catches for a team-high 70 yards.

Menlo running back Payton Bell led the Oaks with a team-high 85 yards rushing on 17 carries. Bell averaged 5.0 yards per carry.

NEXT: Linfield returns home Saturday for the annual AT&T Hall of Fame Game against Northwest Conference foe Whitworth. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.