McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Quarterback Mickey Inns passed for three scores and receiver Deidre Wiersma hauled in a game-high seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown to lead No. 6 Linfield to a smothering 52-3 nonconference victory Saturday over La Verne at sunny Maxwell Field.
Linfield moved to 2-0 on the young season while La Verne dropped to 0-2.
Defense set the tone for Linfield in the first quarter, pinning La Verne deep in its own territory. The 'cats began their opening drive at the ULV 36-yard line. Six plays later, fullback Bryan Anderson pounded his way into the endzone from one yard out, giving Linfield an early 7-0 lead.
Inns led the 'Cats on a seven-play, 60-yard march to the ULV 17 on the next possession. The drive was highlighted by an acrobatic catch by Deidre Wiersma on a 38-yard toss from Inns. But the Leopards were able to stop Linfield in its tracks, holding the hosts to a 34-yard field goal by Josh Kay. With 7:26 left in the quarter, the 'Cats led the Leos 10-0.
The Leopards put together a decent drive on their third possession, eventually setting up a fourth-and-goal play from the Linfield 4. Senior cornerback Nate Dixon deflected a La Verne pass and the Leopards turned the ball over on downs.
Inns opened the second quarter with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Poppen, capping a five-play, 69-yard drive and put Linfield comfortably in control 17-0.
While the Wildcat defense continued to make big tackles and clutch fourth down stops, the rhythm for the offense was up and down throughout the second quarter.
Linfield ended the half with Inns passing to Erik Koczian for a 2-yard score. The methodical drive spanned 63 yards across eight plays.
Linfield didn't waste any time at the start of the second half. Stephen Nasca returned the opening kickoff 61 yards down to the La Verne 9. The offense needed only one play to find the end zone, as Wiersma made a tiptoe catch in the endzone. La Verne remained scoreless as Linfield extended the margin to 31-0.
The Wildcat offense looked like a well-oiled machine in the third quarter. Nasca scored on a 1-yard run to complete a 59-yard drive to put the 'Cats up 38-0.
With 1:47 left in the quarter, La Verne got on the scoreboard with a 34-yard field goal by Alex Miller. The score completed a 12-play, 55-yard drive by the Leos.
With the outcome firmly in hand, reserves played out the fourth quarter. Sophomore quarterback Josh Yoder connected with Lucas Jepson for a 29-yard touchdown, then found Evan Peterson for a 30-yard scoring strike to put the Linfield up 52-3 with just over nine minutes to play in the game.
With 3:40 left to play and the La Verne offense driving inside the Linfield 10, Erik Knapp intercepted a ULV pass to put the exclamation point in the win for the Wildcats. The interception was typical of Linfield's defensive play throughout the game.
Wildcats safety Drew Fisher led the 'Cats on defense with 10 tackles and linebacker Tyler Robitaille had five tackles, including three sacks totaling 22 yards in losses.
Fillip Marcelin totlaled 10 tackles, including a 5-yard sack, for La Verne.
Inns played with precision, completing 18-of-27 passes for 210 yards and a career-best three touchdowns. Linfield's trio of fleet-footed running backs rushed for 162 yards, including a team-high 61 yards on five carries by sophomore Jordy Romick. Starting tailback Josh Hill gained 47 yards on 13 carries and Nasca finished with 45 on 11 rushes.
The Wildcats did not surrender a turnover in the game and easily won the statistical yardstick, 461-312.
NEXT WEEK: The Wildcats open Northwest Conference play Saturday against the Willamette Bearcats in Salem. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.