It was a tale of two halves in Ashland, Oregon on Saturday night but our Linfield Wildcats prevailed with a ball hawking defense and an offense made the plays when it counted to overcome the host Southern Oregon Raiders 30-22. It was a roller coaster of emotions in witnessing the Wildcats storm out to a commanding 24-3 half time lead and then watch SOU climb right back into the game and get with 2 points midway in the 4th. However, when it all looked to be going SOU’s way Linfield made the big plays down the stretch to seal the victory.
It felt like “that” game. You know the game that exposes what a team is really made of and where their season might go from that point. We made some errors that allowed SOU to get back in the game but this ‘Cat team seemed to find the way to reach deep and make the plays to put the Raiders away. It was gritty hard-fought win. So let’s review The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Saturday’s victory.
The ‘Cats were living in the SOU backfield the whole 1st half and were able to put heat on during the critical 4th quarter stands. The defensive line and linebackers were very physical and I think they found their calling card in terms of their style of play. That pressure set up two takeaways that put the offense on the front door of the end zone. It was an outstanding performance up front.
SOU quarterback, Bryan Lee-Lauduski did throw for 3 TD’s on the night but was only 16-36 and threw 4 interceptions. The Wildcat secondary did a very solid job in breaking up plays when it mattered and in the playmaking department with the interceptions. SOU was only 4 for 16 in 3rd down conversions and the defensive backfield had a large hand in that.
4 for 4 in the Red Zone. It was an outstanding job on a night where the Linfield offense could have had a better performance in some areas. But the point is when the ‘Cats had the ball in the RZ they got the job done and I’d rather have that then a team that races between the 20’s and can’t punch it in.
The SOU defense was very physical and did a nice job vs the ‘Cats. However, when the game was on the line our offense made the plays it needed to extend the lead and then ice the game. Nice play calling and great execution.
Special Teams Coverage:
I though the coverage teams did a great job on Saturday. SOU had a very fast weapon that shook loose for one decent return but the rest of the night the Purple Pain crew had a great night.
4 turnovers were not an ideal number. I don’t need to keep hammering this but we know this will be a very key component next week.
I knew that SOU was going to come out with guns blazing but we really helped them out in the 3rd quarter. In fact, I don’t think we’ve played a very good 3rd quarter this season.
Getting home at about 4 AM:
All that leads to was a very unproductive Sunday.
SOU’s pre-game Chant/Stare Down:
Right before kickoff Linfield has the tradition of gathering on the sideline at the 50 and reciting the Lord ’s Prayer on bended knee. I’m not a very religious person but out of respect to the players on the team and my Linfield family I always took part and would look forward to that moment. Saturday was no exception but right before the team gathered the SOU players were gathered on their sideline at the 50 yard line and started jumping up and down while chanting “WILDCATS”. That wouldn’t be super tacky but half of their team turned towards our sideline and proceed to mean mug the ‘Cats while hooting and hollering.
Look Linfield has been around numerous big games and have played many excellent teams. That kind of junk isn’t scaring or intimidating anybody or winning you a game. All it did was make Linfield fans watching this go down chuckle and say “Looks like they won pre-game again.”