Linfield had their chances but Western Oregon did enough late in the game to pull out the win at the Catdome. The ‘Cats were superior over WOU in just about ever statistic on the day except for the one that mattered the most…the scoreboard. Faithful of the ‘Cats, while disappointed with the loss, had to be a happy with the effort versus a Division II program with all the built-in advantages (scholarships, red-shirting, full contact spring football, cost of tuition, lighter admissions standards, etc). While WOU might have been a bigger physically in a few areas of the game there wasn’t much difference at all in terms of skill, speed, or ability.
Defensive Effort: Linfield held the Wolves to their second lowest scoring output of the season (1st- Portland State, I-AA), only allowed 11 first downs, and only gave up 240 total yards on the day. Linfield’s defensive front was outstanding in swarming WOU quarterback, Josh Riddell, all game long. Riddell was held to 5-19 passing and was picked twice. The ‘Cats defensive backs deserve a great deal of praise in limiting a potent group of Western Oregon receivers.
Taylor Summers: The Senior defensive end was a force for the ‘Cats demanding constant double teams and was making or in plays from sideline to sideline. Summers, to me, has played like an All-American this season and it would be a crime if Taylor isn’t the named NWC defensive player of the year and doesn’t garner All-American recognition.
Taylor McCann and Paul Partlow: McCann, a Senior Safety, was critical for the ‘Cats defensive game plan and came up with two clutch interceptions. Partlow, Jr. Linebacker, also was huge for the ‘Cats in leading Linfield with 11 tackles, a sack, and another tackle for loss. The physical nature of the game vs WOU fit Paul’s style perfectly and he shined.
Offensive Line: A traditional strength of Western Oregon is the play of their defensive line, and while the Wolves had their moments, I thought the ‘Cats offensive line was fantastic in providing plenty of time in the passing game and did a good job in moving wolves around throughout the game.
Cole Franklin: Cole and the Catdome just agree with each other. The Sophomore signal caller had a fine game behind center with netting 85 yards rushing and was 19-24 throwing the ball.
Missed Red Zone opportunities: In a tight game every red-zone opportunity is huge and Linfield missed on two chances to overtake and apply the pressure on the Wolves. Coming away with touchdowns instead of empty chances in that 3rd quarter was the difference between victory and defeat.
Blocked PAT/Field Goals: Linfield suffered a blocked PAT and a blocked field goal on Saturday and that is the ‘Cats 4th blocked kick the past two weeks. When the ‘Cats have a weapon like
Scott Birkhofer booming kicks we have to get the job done to allow him to covert on easy kicks. The blocks were pivotal on Saturday.
Kick/Punt Coverage: WOU had a very talented return man but this has been an area that has hurt Linfield consistently during the year and it bit Linfield again on Saturday.
None for Linfield but I want to write about something else here.
As a former Wildcat player I was filled with pride after Saturday. Now don’t get me wrong I wanted to win and thought it was a few mistakes that the ‘Cats made that resulted in the loss rather than it was something spectacular WOU did to win. But when I say I was proud it was because of the way this group of young men carry themselves as football players and as people. In victory and in defeat Linfield plays with absolute dignity and respect for the game and themselves. The ‘Cats won’t celebrate by stomping on somebody else’s logo while turning towards and taunting the team they just defeated. The ‘Cats won’t stand 5 yards away from the other team’s sideline running smack while a big play is breaking 40-yards downfield. Our ‘Cats don’t stand around in pre-game talking junk to the other team warming up. The ‘Cats just strive to play Linfield football and that respect and character they play with now as young people will carry on in their lives after college and into their professional/adult lives.
So while others may taunt, preen, and really just embarrass themselves, their families, and their college. I’ll continue to be proud of Linfield and how they handle the adversity along with the victories. Go ‘Cats!