Story and photo courtesy of Linfield Athletics
TACOMA, Wash. – Linfield quarterbacks Mickey Inns (Sr., Gresham, Ore.) and Josh Yoder (Jr., Hubbard, Ore.) 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 (Sr., Roseburg, Ore.) caught eight passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns and Charlie Poppen (Soph., Oregon City, Ore.) 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 (Jr., Eugene, Ore.). Tackle Jeremy Girod (Soph., Vancouver, Wash.) 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 (Sr., Salem, Ore.). The drive stalled when John Shaffer (Fr., Aloha, Ore.) 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 (Soph., Bellevue, Wash.) 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 (Soph., Roseburg, Ore.). The extra point failed.
Tailback Stephen Nasca (Sr., Sammamish, Ore.) led the Linfield ground game with 56 yards rushing on nine carries. Shaffer had 23 yards on 11 touches. Tight end Westly Meng (Soph., Gresham, Ore.) caught three passes for 74 yards. Lucas Jepson (Sr., Aloha, Ore.) 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.