McMINNVILLE,Ore. – Mickey Inns threw for two touchdowns and caught a 17-yard scoring pass, and Josh Hill rushed for 113 yards to power fifth-ranked Linfield past Menlo 30-9 Saturday in the Wildcats' season-opener at Maxwell Field.
Though the teams slogged through a scoreless first quarter, the Wildcats never trailed in the contest, opening up leads of 14-0 and 30-3. The 'Cats kept their record against Menlo perfect (14-0) in what could well have been the final meeting between the two programs.
Safety Colin Forman totaled a game-high 10 tackles, and end Brynnan Hyland had two sacks among his five stops for the Wildcats (1-0), who held the Oaks (0-1) to 265 yards of offense, including just 118 through the air.
Two unsuccessful field goal attempts by Josh Kay in the first quarter kept the Linfield offense muted in the early going. Hill, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a junior, carried the ball 18 times, though the senior tailback never reached the endzone. A former quarterback at Westview High School, Hill did connect with Inns for a sneaky halfback pass in the third quarter that gave the hosts a 23-3 advantage.
Menlo struggled to sustain drives, going 4-for-15 on third-down plays. The Linfield defense piled up four sacks, forced a safety, and recovered two fumbles, including a 79-yard return by Michael MacClanathan for a touchdown. MacClanthan's game-clinching play in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter stands the second-longest fumble return on record at Linfield.
Menlo came away with a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown with 7:13 to play, when quarterback Matt Pelasasa scooted over from the 4 to to make it 30-9. Pelasasa led the Oaks with 118 yards passing while adding a team-high 51 yards rushing.
Wildcats punter Josh Repp averaged a stellar 44.5 yards per attempt, including a long effort of 51 yards.
Whistled 10 times for 98 yards in penalties, Linfield was its own worst enemy at times. And with just three third-down conversions in 12 tries, the Wildcats' execution was typical of an early season game.
COMING UP: Linfield hosts Hardin-Simmons of the American Southwest Conference Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Wildcats and Cowboys have met four times previously with each team winning twice.