November 30, 2013

Linfield fends off upset bid, advances to quarterfinals

More news about: Linfield

McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Scoring 28 unanswered points to avoid a major upset, second-ranked Linfield fought off opportunistic Hampden-Sydney 31-21 to prevail in a thrilling second-round NCAA Division III playoff clash Saturday at chilly Maxwell Field.

Linfield (11-0) advances to a quarterfinal matchup against fellow unbeaten Wisconsin-Whitewater (12-0), a 33-3 winner Saturday over Franklin (Ind.). The game site, expected to be in Whitewater, Wis., will be confirmed Sunday by the NCAA.

Like a good war film, Saturday's back-and-forth battle featured drama, intrigue and more than a few casualties for both sides.

Unranked Hampden-Sydney, champion of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time in program history. And facing the playoff-seasoned Wildcats, the Tigers felt firmly in control throughout the first half before Linfield's edge in experience keyed a reversal of fortune in the late going.

Linebacker Dominique Forrest was the difference maker for Linfield. The senior All-American piled up a game-high 12 tackles, a sack, forced two fumbles and recovered his own stripped ball in the end zone with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter to all but seal the victory for the favored Wildcats.

Forrest's heroics overshadowed a brilliant 387-yard passing performance from Nash Nance, the one-time University of Tennessee recruit who threw for two scores and ran for another with little resistence, all during the game's initial 20 minutes.

With Nance at the controls the Tigers drew first blood, marching 78 yards in eight plays after the opening kickoff. Halfback Chris Shembo was on the receiving end of a 3-yard shovel pass from Nance that gave H-SC a quick 7-0 lead.

Linfield's initial drive went 28 yards before stalling and the Wildcats were forced to punt. Nance followed with a 70-yard touchdown bomb to Holton Walker and suddenly, the Wildcats were facing a 14-point deficit.

Linfield drove to the H-SC 23-yard line on its next possession, but the H-SC defense held and the 'Cats settled for a 40-yard field goal by Josh Repp that trimmed the margin to 14-3 with 1:49 left in the first quarter.

Facing third-and-1 at the Wildcats' 41, Nance was stopped cold for no gain and on fourth down, he threw incomplete, turning the ball over on downs. Needing to get some offense generated quickly, Linfield quarterback Josh Yoder passed 21 yards to Colin Nelson and an unsportsmanlike conduct on Hampden-Sydney put the ball at the Tigers 23. Yoder took a shot at the end zone but was picked off at the goal line by Sidney Henry, squashing a prime scoring opportunity for the 'Cats.

Starting from his own 1, Nance moved the Tigers down the field for yet another TD, passing first to Walker for a 42-yard gain and capping the drive himself with a 1-yard sneak. The extra point by Paul Boydoh made it 21-3 in favor of the visitors from Virginia with 9:43 left in the half.

Yoder and the Wildcats continued to fight, driving 72 yards for a major score with 5:51 left in the second quarter. Charlie Poppen pulled in a 33-yard pass from Yoder down to the H-SC 3 and Josh Hill plowed over for the first of his two short touchdown runs, bringing Linfield to within 11 points.

Linfield continued to misfire offensively in the first half, even when chances presented themselves. Moments after scoring, Kyle Wright picked off Nance and returned the ball to the H-SC 45. But again, Yoder's lofting pass found its way into Henry's hands in the end zone, once more taking wind out of the Wildcats' sail.

Hampden-Sydney outgained Linfield 194-78 during the opening quarter and 329-195 for the half. Nance accumulated 303 of his 384 passing yards before the break, with four of his 19 completions going to Walker, Division III's receptions leader.

Yoder, the Northwest Conference's Offensive Player of the Year, was a subpar 9-for-21 for 140 yards at the half, including two costly interceptions.

Midway through the third quarter, the Wildcats snatched momentum from the Tigers. Spencer Payne returned a punt 39 yards up the right sideline to the H-SC 32, benefiting from three crushing blocks along the way. Linfield advanced to the 15 before Hill, running out of the Wildcat formation, was halted short of a first down on fourth-and-1. Wildcats rover Mike Nardoni recovered a Joey Kernan fumble at the 32 and six plays later, Hill clawed his way across the goal line. Repp's extra point pulled the host to within 21-17.

Hampden-Sydney, known for its gambling style of play calling, attempted a pass out of punt formation from its own 27. Nance's toss hit the turf incomplete and the Wildcats took over on downs. Riding a groundswell of home-field energy, Hill tossed the ball two yards to tight end Westly Meng for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Wildcats led for the first time, 24-21.

Linfield's defense corralled Hampden-Sydney once more, giving the Wildcats the ball back with 8:25 to play. From the Tigers 27, Yoder suffered his third interception, this one to Zach Morgan at the 1.

Through all of its miscues, Linfield continued to cling to a 24-21 lead, bouyed by a defense that slowly, yet surely, asserted its influence on the game.

As if on cue, Forrest delivered the game-changing play. Nance dropped back to pass in his own end zone where a furious pass rush enabled Forrest to jar the ball loose. The senior dropped on the bouncing ball for the clinching touchdown, putting Linfield in front 31-21 with 6:18 to play.

Linfield steadily tightened the clamps on Hampden-Sydney in the fourth quarter, piling up three sacks. Nance, who began the game with 11 completions in his first 15 throws, went 5-for-11 for 33 yards in the final 15 minutes. The Tigers were 0-for-4 on third down in the final period.

Walker, who looked every bit like an All-American in the first half with 137 receiving yards, was a non-factor in the second half, catching four passes for 27 yards.

Hampden-Sydney outgained Linfield 415-375 for the game, though the Wildcats did limit the Tigers' running game to 27 net yards on 20 attempts.

Yoder ended the day 17-for-35 for 243 yards, but the senior was sacked three times and served up a career-high three interceptions, all inside the H-SC 2-yard line. Hill was the game's leading rusher with 55 yards and two touchdowns. Tavon Willis added another 42 yards on seven carries.

'CAT SCRATCH: The Wildcats are 14-0 at home in the month of November, a streak that spans six seasons. . . the Tigers came into the game averaging 35.5 points and 447 yards per game…the Wildcats entered the game leading Division III in scoring at 53.7 points per game. . . Nance completed passes to 11 different receivers. . . Linfield last faced Wisconsin-Whitewater in the 2009 NCAA semifinals.

comments powered by Disqus
Sep. 4: All times Eastern
8:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Tex. A&M-Commerce
Sep. 5: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Anna Maria at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Albright at Kean
7:00 PM
Widener at Rowan
Live Stats Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
WPI at Curry
7:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Bridgewater State
7:00 PM
William Paterson at SUNY-Maritime
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Ursinus at TCNJ
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
Video
7:30 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
Waldorf at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
Sep. 6: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
12:00 PM
Dickinson at Hobart
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Holland College (PEI, Canada) at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Otterbein at St. John Fisher
12:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
12:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at MIT
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Johns Hopkins
12:00 PM
Cortland State at Buffalo State
Audio
1:00 PM
St. Lawrence at Coast Guard
1:00 PM
Thomas More at Wesley
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton State
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Averett
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Kalamazoo
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Wilmington at Olivet
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
1:00 PM
Alfred State at Morrisville State
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Brockport State
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Montclair State
1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Methodist
1:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Bluffton
1:00 PM
Marietta at Kenyon
1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Apprentice
1:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Sewanee at DePauw
1:30 PM
Adrian at Defiance
1:30 PM
RPI at Norwich
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Alma at Heidelberg
1:30 PM
Berry at Maryville (Tenn.)
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Bridgewater (Va.) at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
St. Vincent at John Carroll
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Bethany
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
Audio
2:00 PM
Franklin at Illinois Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Rhodes at Austin
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
UW-Platteville at Buena Vista
2:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Washington U.
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at St. John's
2:00 PM
Crown at Gustavus Adolphus
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Simpson at Iowa Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Hope at Monmouth
Audio
2:00 PM
Lawrence at Rockford
2:00 PM
Aurora at Illinois College
2:00 PM
Carroll at Lakeland
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
2:00 PM
Coe at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
Presentation at Luther
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Maranatha Baptist
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Culver-Stockton
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
2:00 PM
UW-Stout at Dakota Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
Ripon at St. Scholastica
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Hendrix at Westminster (Mo.)
2:10 PM
UW-Eau Claire at St. Thomas
3:00 PM
St. Norbert at Carthage
4:00 PM
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Puget Sound
4:00 PM
Lewis and Clark at Whitworth
4:00 PM
College of Idaho at Pacific
4:30 PM
Arizona Christian at George Fox
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Salisbury at Christopher Newport
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
7:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Case Western Reserve
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Stevenson at N.C. Wesleyan
7:00 PM
Butler at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Audio
7:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Taylor (Ind.) at Anderson
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Denison at Earlham
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
7:00 PM
Albion at UW-Stevens Point
7:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at North Park
7:00 PM
Beloit at Chicago
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Howard Payne at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Millsaps
7:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Texas Lutheran
7:00 PM
Robert Morris-Chicago at UW-Oshkosh
7:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Dubuque
Live Stats Video
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:30 PM
Central at Benedictine
Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
St. Olaf at Northwestern (Minn.)
8:00 PM
Hamline at Minnesota-Morris
8:00 PM
Lake Forest at Wisconsin Lutheran
8:00 PM
Wartburg at Augsburg
Audio
8:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Dec. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at UW-Whitewater 52, Mount Union 14
@ Salem Stadium; Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 16, at Mary Hardin-Baylor 15
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 41, North Central (Ill.) 40
Box Score Recap Recap Photos

What We're Reading