McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Two nationally ranked programs faced off to begin the season with No. 7 Linfield getting the better of No. 16 Cal Lutheran by a 24-14 score at Maxwell Field on Saturday afternoon.
Box Score: LIN 24, CLU 14 - F
The series between these two teams has been one of trends and at least a pair of those continued on Saturday.
Cal Lutheran has opened the scoring in each of the past four meetings since the 2009 season. After Eric Rogers torched the Wildcats for 216 yards and two scores in the previous matchup, the wide out scored on CLU's opening possession Saturday on a 28-yard run.
The second and more important is the home team had been victorious in the previous five meetings. Linfield made it six straight for the home side scoring 10 second quarter points to take a three point lead into halftime.
Cal Lutheran had an opportunity to add to its 7-0 lead after driving down to the Linfield 17-yard line. On the Kingsmen attempt to convert a fourth-and-one running back Dan Mosier lost yardage and CLU turned the ball over on downs.
It would be the lone red zone scoring chance for Cal Lutheran on the day while Linfield took the ball inside the Kingsmen 20-yard line six times.
Defensive red zone interceptions snatched by Justin Haulcy-Bateman and Loren Powers turned away a pair of scoring chances and kept Cal Lutheran within striking distance. However the Cal Lutheran offense was unable to capitalize going three-and-out on one possession and Linfield returning the favor three plays later with a pick of their own on the other.
The Wildcats cashed in on the other four opportunities with two touchdowns and a pair of field goals. The running game did most of the damage going for 256 yards and an average of 5.8 yards per carry.
Linfield running back Josh Hill led the way with 24 carries, 164 yards and two touchdowns. His second rushing touchdown at the 4:24 mark of the third quarter made it 17 unanswered points for the Wildcats.
His CLU counterpart Mosier did not have the same success as he had in his previous game against Linfield in which he rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. On Saturday the Wildcats held him to only 55 yards on 16 carries and CLU to a total of 122 yards on the ground.
Trailing 17-14 Cal Lutheran forced a punt and had possession near midfield facing a third-and-one. Again the running game was unable to gain yardage and forced to punt the ball away. On the ensuing Linfield possession quarterback Mickey Inns' four-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Priester capped off a 75-yard drive and pushed the margin back to 10 points.
The Wildcats defense also contained the aerial assault to a degree but CLU quarterback Jake Laudenslayer did find Rogers for a 28-yard touchdown that pulled the Kingsmen to within three points late in the third quarter. Laudenslayer completed 19-of-30 passes for 220 yards and found Rogers four times for 91 yards including the TD that cut the deficit to three points.
Defensively it was an impressive Cal Lutheran debut for Chris Carr who led the team with 13 tackles (10 solo) including the lone Kingsmen sack.
Cal Lutheran (0-1) will host Pacific Lutheran (1-0) on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. Location for this game will be announced no later than Monday, Sept. 12.