McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linfield rolled up a big margin in total yards and took advantage of four Pacific Lutheran turnovers in running past the Lutes, 45-7, in a Northwest Conference football game played Saturday afternoon at Maxwell Field.
In beating PLU for the 10th straight time, the longest winning streak in the series, the fifth-ranked Wildcats improved their overall record to 6-0 and their conference mark to 4-0. They also took another major step toward their third consecutive NWC title. Pacific Lutheran, meanwhile, suffered its second loss of the season against four wins, and it is now 2-1 in the conference.
Linfield wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, intercepting a pass on PLU's first play of the game and driving 43 yards in five plays, capping the short-field drive on a 20-yard pass from Mickey Inns to Lucas Jepson. Just 1:43 into the game, Linfield held a 7-0 lead.
Pacific Lutheran's second possession ended like the first when Zack Halverson was intercepted for the second time, though the PLU defense forced Linfield to punt.
After PLU gave the ball back following a three-and-out, Linfield drove 50 yards to score on Josh Hill's 5-yard run, making the score 14-0. The 'Cats added Josh Kay's 32-yard field goal and Taylor Skore's 23-yard touchdown run to take a 24-0 lead into the halftime break.
Any hope of the PLU comeback pretty much ended on Linfield's opening possession of the third quarter when it drove 68 yards on seven plays, scoring on Hill's 11-yard run. The hosts added two more touchdowns on 6- and 5-yard passes from Mickey Inns to Buddy Saxon, to take a 45-0 lead just 14 seconds into the final period.
The Lutes got a bit of redemption late in the fourth period, driving 80 yards on 12 plays and scoring on Daniel Herr's 1-yard sweep around end.
Linfield dominated the game in every offensive category with 25 first downs and 460 total yards on 81 plays to 12 first downs and 183 yards on 59 plays for the Lutes. Hill carried 18 times for 100 yards to lead Linfield's ground game, and quarterbacks Mickey Inns and Josh Yoder combined to complete 26-of-37 passes for 326 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Jepson had six catches for 85 yards and 11 different players caught at least one pass each.
Brandon James led the PLU ground game with 45 yards on 12 carries, and Halverson ended up 16-for-30 passing for 137 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Herr had four catches for 33 yards to lead the Lutes in that category.
Steven McDonald was in on 12 tackles and recovered a fumble to lead the PLU defense, which also got 11 tackles, including two for loss, from TJ Suek. Erik Magnussen had two quarterback sacks among his 10 tackles, and the Lutes finished the game with six quarterback sacks for a total of 52 yards in losses.
PLU returns to action next Saturday when it hosts the unbeaten Lewis & Clark Pioneers at 12:30 p.m. in Puyallup's Sparks Stadium. The upstart Pioneers, led by talented quarterback Keith Welch, come into the game 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the NWC.
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