Linfield Scores Early in Each Half, Holds off Willamette's Rally, 20-10

Freshman Dylan Jones Rushes for 108 Yards and a TD for Bearcats

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Linfield College scored a touchdown on its first possession in each half on its way to a 17-0 lead, but the Wildcats had to fend off a rally by Willamette before defeating the Bearcats, 20-10, on Saturday, Oct. 1 at McCulloch Stadium. Linfield, ranked #6 in the D3football.com Top 25, improved to 3-0 on the season. Willamette fell to 1-3 overall, with all three losses to nationally ranked teams.

The rivalry game, played in front of a sellout crowd of 2,755 spectators, also was the first Northwest Conference game of the season for both teams. Linfield is 1-0 and Willamette is 0-1.

WU freshman tailback Dylan Jones (Santa Maria, CA/Ernest Righetti HS) excited the home crowd with several lengthy runs, including a 20-yard run for a touchdown. Jones finished with seven carries for 108 yards.

Josh Hill of Linfield ran 36 times for 110 yards. Linfield quarterback Mickey Inns completed 20 of 37 passes for 329 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Linfield drove 78 yards on 10 plays to put a touchdown on the scoreboard at the end of the Wildcats' first drive. Hill carried the ball eight times during the drive for 54 yards, including a 25-yard scamper. He scored the touchdown on a 2-yard run off right tackle. Josh Kay kicked the extra point.

Kay also tacked on a 35-yard field goal with 10:32 left in the second quarter. WU had a chance to reduce the lead on its next possession, as the Bearcats drove from their own 26 to the Linfield 25. On the sixth play of the drive, Matt Williams (Jr., FL, Encinitas, CA/La Costa Canyon HS) fumbled a the Linfield 21 after a four-yard gain. Christian Hanna recovered the ball for the Wildcats and returned it 35 yards to the WU 44.

Linfield continued to hold a 10-0 lead at halftime.

The second half opened with the Wildcats in possession for what proved to be a 7-play, 63-yard drive. Quarterback Mickey Inns completed 3 of 5 passes during the drive, including a 21-yarder to Charlie Poppen and a 24-yarder to Buddy Saxon. Inns connected with Lucas Jepson on a 13-yard pass for the touchdown at the 12:57 mark. Kay added the PAT for a 17-0 advantage.

On its next two possessions it appeared Linfield might put the game out of reach. First the Wildcats drove from their own 39-yard line to the WU 22, but Kay missed a 39-yard field goal on fourth down. Jones gained 28 yards for Willamette on the next play, but WU had to punt four plays later.

The Wildcats responded by taking the ball 75 yards on 11 plays. On the 11th play, facing 2nd-and-goal at the WU 3-yard line, Hill gained one yard before Harmon Bruno (Sr., OLB, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley) forced a fumble. Daniel Wakam (Fr., CB, Ventura, CA/St. Bonaventure HS) fell on the ball for Willamette in the end zone.

WU's takeaway seemed to inspire the offense, which devoured 80 yards on three plays to get on the scoreboard. Jake Turner (Jr., FL, Ontario, OR/Ontario HS) rushed for 25-yards on the first play. Jones dashed for 35 yards on the second play and scored on a 20-yard run to complete the drive in just 1:14.

The extra point was kicked by Kyle Derby (So., PK, Oakdale, CA/Oakdale HS) with 3:17 remaining in the third quarter. Linfields' lead was 17-7.

Mitch Rowan (Sr., PK/P, Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS), who provided excellent punting throughout the game, helped set up the next scoring drive for the Bearcats early in the fourth quarter. On 4th down at the Linfield 40, his punt of 47 yards was fair caught by Drew Fisher who temporarily lost the ball, but fell on it at the 3-yard line.

Four plays later, Josh Repp punted for just 20 yards. WU took over at the Linfield 27-yard line.

Jamiere Abney (Sr., TB, Bremerton, WA/Bremerton HS) carried for seven yards on the first play, but the Bearcats lost one yard on each of the next two plays. On the fourth play, Rowan successfully kicked a 40-yard field goal. It tied for the longest field goal of his WU career. With 8:18 left, Willamette had reduced the deficit to a single possession at 17-10.

Linfield clinched the win by driving 65 yards on 13 plays to set up a 24-yard field goal by Kay with 3:17 remaining. The drive benefited from three penalties on Willamette for a total of 38 yards. It appeared that WU might have the Wildcats stopped 33 yards from the end zone on a fourth down incompletion, but the Bearcats were called for defensive holding on a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage.

The penalty gave the Wildcats a 1st-and-10 at the WU 23 yard line. A personal foul penalty following the next play moved the ball to the 12-yard line. Kay booted the field goal four plays later.

Willamette ended the game with 12 penalties for 112 yards. Linfield was called for five penalties for 46 yards.

The Wildcats gained 433 total yards. Most of the yards were in the passing game, as Linfield rushed for just 104 yards on 50 carries. The 329 passing yards for Inns, included five passes to Deidre Wiersma for 110 yards and four to Poppen for 87 yards.

Willamette achieved 316 yards, with 209 rushing yards on 37 carries. Quarterback Brian Widing (Jr., Canby, OR/Canby HS) was 7 of 18 passing for 81 yards and one interception. Turner went 1 for 1 on a halfback option pass to tight end Doug Gilmore (Jr., Portland, OR/Beaverton HS) for 26 yards. Jake Knecht (Jr., WR, Issaquah, WA/Skyline HS/Illinois State Univ.) led Willamette's receivers with three catches for 34 yards.

It rained heavily for much of the second half. The weather contributed to a combined 11 fumbles during the game, with six by Linfield and five for Willamette. Each time lost two of the fumbles.

The teams also had one interception apiece. Kole Kreiger intercepted a pass for Linfield and Dominic David (Jr., S, Salem, OR/South Salem HS/Portland State Univ.) intercepted a pass for the Bearcats.  David also recovered a fumble. Bruno of Willamette led all players with 13 total tackles, while Cody Pastorino (Jr., S, Glenn, CA/Willows HS) earned 10 tackles for WU. Krieger topped Linfield's tackle chart with eight stops.

Willamette will host Pacific University on Saturday, Oct. 8. Game time at McCulloch Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORE

Linfield College 20
Willamette University 10

Mitch Rowan kicked a 40-yard field goal and placed three punts inside the 20-yard line.

Mitch Rowan kicked a 40-yard field goal and placed three punts inside the 20-yard line.