McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linebackers Dominique Forrest and Tyler Robitaille were wrecking balls on defense, leading the fifth-ranked Linfield Wildcats to a record-breaking 73-7 demolition of winless Puget Sound Saturday at sunny Maxwell Field during a Homecoming weekend filled with tradition and pageantry.
The Wildcats scored the game's first 73 points, pouncing on the Loggers for 10 touchdowns and scoring every way imaginable, including an interception, blocked punt and a near record-breaking 49-yard field goal.
The 73-point outburst marked the second-most points scored in a Linfield football game and the most since the resumption of football following World War II. Only the 1927 Wildcats scored more points in a single game, piling up 83 against Oregon Normal (now Western Oregon).
Linfield shut down Puget Sound in its first possession, giving the Wildcats great field position to start their first offensive drive. The 'Cats needed only four plays to find the end zone. Tailback Josh Hill scored from 12 yards out on his first run of the game and Linfield led 7-0 with 12:06 to play.
UPS answered back with a drive on its second possession, but Linfield linebacker Forrest jarred the ball loose from Loggers quarterback George Ka'ai. Robitaille then pounced on the recovery to give the 'Cats big momentum. The shift resulted in another Wildcats touchdown, this time from tailback Aaron Williams from the UPS 4. Williams' touchdown, his first of the season, capped a 10-play, 59-yard march.
An illegal touch penalty on the ensuing kickoff gave the Loggers great field position and a chance to answer back. But Linfield once again bottled up the UPS offense and the Loggers turned the ball over on downs.
After Linfield's next drive stalled at midfield, kicker Josh Kay nailed a 49-yard field goal to give the 'Cats a 17-0 lead with 2:33 left in the quarter.
The Loggers' next drive proved fruitless, this time ending on an interception by Robitaille at the UPS 33.
Feeding off the momentum, Linfield quarterback Mickey Inns led the 'Cats on an eight-play, 45-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard pass to tight end Jacob Priester. That made it 24-0 with 9:35 left before intermission and the rout was on.
Forrest intercepted Ka'ai on the following drive and Inns launched a 35-yard bomb to the endzone for Charlie Poppen. But the play was called back on a holding penalty.
It mattered little. Backup tailback Stephen Nasca scampered 45 yards to the end zone on the very next play to put Linfield ahead 31-0.
Christian Hanna took his turn in the spotlight, intercepting backup QB James Korn and returning the ball 33 yards for another Wildcats touchdown. With 6:21 still to play in the half, Linfield found itself in front 38-0 .
To everyone's amazement, the Wildcats were just getting started.
Korn tossed another errant pass that was intecepeted Taylor Skore at the UPS 37. The next play, Inns hurled a 37-yard missle to Poppen that put Linfield up 45-0.
Taking advantage of a UPS fumble, Linfield drove 40 yards before Inns hooked up with Lucas Jepson for a 25-yard touchdown pass that put the Wildcats up by 52 points with 3:05 still to play in the half.
Sophomore Colin Foreman put Linfield into the record books when he recovered a blocked punt by the 'Cats' special teams ran three yards in for the score.
In the third quarter, backup quarterback Josh Yoder found freshman Colin Nelson in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown that put the 'Cats up 66-0. The scored finished off a seven play, 38-yard drive for Linfield.
Yoder led another impressive drive that spanned 13 plays plays and 67 yards, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run from Trevor Gomez that put the hosts on top 73-0.
With 22 seconds left in the third quarter, UPS finally found the end zone. Third-string QB Braden Foley lobbed a high pass into the corner for Thiesen Chang, averting the shutout for the Loggers.
Linfield finished with 490 total yards of offense, including 227 on the ground. Inns completed 14 of 23 attempts for 214 yards and three TDs. Nasca was the game's leading rusher with eight carries for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Micheal Link recorded a team-best five tackles, nearly all on kickoff returns. Forrest have five tackles, including a sack and another for loss. He also forced a fumble and had an interception. Robitaille had four tackles, a fumble recovery, an interception and blocked a punt that led to a Linfield touchdown.
Foley led the Loggers statistically, completing 5 of 7 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Cornerback Nate Adams had a game-high eight tackles for UPS.
'CAT SCRATCH: The Wildcats limited the Loggers to 21 yards on 16 plays in the first quarter. . . Saturday's Homecoming attendance was 2,681. . . Kniffin came into the game leading the NWC in receiving yards and catches but finished with four catches for 28 yards. . . Puget Sound turned the ball over six times in the first half, including four interceptions. . . the Wildcats did not suffer a single turnover. . . Ka'ai entered the game as the NWC's leading passer at 349.2 yards . . . he left Maxwell Field with 55 yards passing and -33 yards rushing. . . Linfield's previous highest scoring output in the post-war was 69 points against Menlo in 2004. . . the victory also matched the widest margin of victory (66 points) in post-war history. . . Wildcats backup quarter Josh Yoder completed 5 of 6 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. . . Kay's 49-yard field goal was four yards shy of the school record of 53 set by Scott Birkhofer in 2007.
AROUND THE NWC: Pacific Lutheran defeated Whitworth 20-17 and Willamette defeats Pacific 49-7.
NEXT: The 'Cats travel to Forest Grove to take on Pacific (0-5) at Lincoln Park Stadium starting at 1:30 p.m.