Linfield passes Puget Sound dizzy
TACOMA, Wash. – Linfield quarterbacks Mickey Inns and Josh Yoder combined for a school-record 541 passing yards, leading the third-ranked Wildcats to a 47-7 demolition of winless Puget Sound Saturday at Peyton Field.
Rolling up a season-high 692 yards, unbeaten Linfield (8-0, 5-0 NWC) clinched at least a share of a fourth consecutive NWC title and sewed up the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III playoffs beginning Nov. 17.
Puget Sound (0-8, 0-5 NWC) was held to 209 yards, including just 58 in the first half.
Linfield receiver Deidre Wiersma caught eight passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns and Charlie Poppen pulled in five passes for 88 yards and one score.
Inns threw for three touchdowns and a career-high 422 yards, 294 coming in the first half. The senior, who threw for two scores in the third quarter, completed 27-of-39 passes before turning the game over to Yoder, who went 5-for-8 for 119 yards and two TDs.
Linfield's defense was again tough to penetrate, racking up five sacks, two by Brynnan Hyland. Tackle Jeremy Girod had 1½ sacks among his six total tackles.
The first half unfolded in fits and starts for the Wildcats. Linfield piled up 346 yards, but produced just 13 points during the game's opening 30 minutes.
Linfield marched 10 plays to the UPS 15-yard line on its initial drive, but had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Josh Kay. The drive stalled when John Shaffer rushed for no gain on first down and Inns threw incomplete on successive plays. Another long Linfield drive to the UPS 15 resulted in a missed field goal in the opening minute of the second quarter.
The Loggers went three-and-out on their next series and the Wildcats moved quickly into UPS territory. Inns found Wiersma for a 47-yard hookup down the middle of the field and six plays later, Shaffer plowed over from the 1 for a 10-0 Linfield advantage. Kay booted his second field goal of the game at the 4:42 mark of the quarter and Linfield took a 13-0 lead into the locker room at the break.
Inns and Yoder combined for three touchdown passes in the third quarter as the 'Cats blew the game wide open.
Linfield methodically drove 55 yards into the end zone with the opening kickoff. Inns passed 9 yards to Wiersma for a touchdown and later connected with Poppen on a 28-yard strike. After Kay kicked the extra point, the Wildcats led 27-0 with 8:28 left in the third period. Inns hit Wiersma with a 23-yard pass in the end zone 4½ minutes later and the Linfield coaching staff soon began to empty the bench. Yoder then made it 41-0 with 29-yard pass to Evan Peterson in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
UPS got on the scoreboard with 10 minutes left in the game when Austin Wagner rushed 19 yards for a touchdown. Two minutes later, Linfield was in the end zone once more after Yoder tossed a 19-yard TD to Derek Priestley. The extra point failed.
Tailback Stephen Nasca led the Linfield ground game with 56 yards rushing on nine carries. Shaffer had 23 yards on 11 touches. Tight end Westly Meng caught three passes for 74 yards. Lucas Jepson contributed four receptions for 36 yards.
Loggers quarterback Braden Foley completed 13-of-25 passes for 125 yards. Adam Kniffin, the Loggers' do-everything receiver, caught eight passes for 75 yards but was held without a touchdown.
'CAT SCRATCH: Saturday's attendance was 1,160. . . the Loggers lost their 17th consecutive contest. . . the Wildcats exceeded by one yard the single-game record of 540 passing yards set against Occidental in the 2005 NCAA playoffs. . . Inns surpassed 5,000 career passing yards in the game, moving up to No. 6 on Linfield's career passing ladder. . .the senior from Gresham now has 5,148 aerial yards. . . his 56 career touchdown passes ranks fifth all-time at Linfield. . . with 10 points in the game, Kay inched closer to the 200-point plateau. . . among kickers, Kay (192 career points) trails only former Wildcats All-American Greg Gulliford's 206 points. . .Linfield extended its regular-season road winning steak to 15 games. . . the Wildcats beat the Loggers for the 23rd straight time, raising their series record against UPS to 26-12-1. . . UPS did not commit a single turnover in the game. . . the Wildcats were penalized nine times for 95 yards. . . Linfield converted 10-of-15 third-down plays . . .reserve Tavon Willis accounted for 108 all-purpose yards, rushing for 30, catching 48 yards in passes and returning a kickoff 30 yards. . . 12 Wildcats caught passes in the game.
AHEAD: Linfield closes the regular season with the annual AT&T Hall of Fame game Saturday at Maxwell Field against the Pacific Boxers. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.